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Assessing the potential for food and energy self-sufficiency on the island of Kauai, Hawaii

Food and energy security are major concerns in the Pacific and around the world. They are key planning priorities in the state of Hawaii as well. Approximately 90 percent of energy and food resources are imported to Hawaii from the continental USA or other parts of the world. While food and energy independence is a goal in many jurisdictions, assessment of the potential for local food and energy production is lacking. Research is needed to examine how agricultural lands can be used to meet food and energy demands, particularly on islands where land is limited. The contribution of this paper is the development of a community-orientated method for evaluating and prioritizing lands for food and energy self-sufficiency, based on local preferences and production possibilities. Based on a review of the literature, community meetings, and expert interviews, three scenarios were developed to assess food and energy production possibilities on Kauai. The first scenario considers maximum food production, the second assigns equal importance to food and energy production, and the third scenario maximizes energy production. This work broadens policy discussions regarding the preservation of agricultural lands on small islands.

Published version: Kim, K., K. Burnett and J. Ghimire. 2015. Assessing the potential for food and energy self-sufficiency on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Food Policy, 54, 44-51.

WORKING PAPER


Intergenerational Games with Dynamic Externalities and Climate Change Experiments

Dynamic externalities are at the core of many long-term environmental problems, from species preservation to climate change mitigation. We use laboratory experiments to compare welfare outcomes and underlying behavior in games with dynamic externalities under two distinct settings: traditionally studied games with infinitely-lived decision makers, and more realistic intergenerational games. We show that if decision makers change across generations, resolving dynamic externalities becomes more challenging for two distinct reasons. First, decision makers’ actions may be short-sighted due to their limited incentives to care about the future generations’ welfare. Second, even when the incentives are perfectly aligned across generations, increased strategic uncertainty of the intergenerational setting may lead to an increased inconsistency of own actions and beliefs about the others, making own actions more myopic. Access to history and advice from previous generations may improve dynamic efficiency, but may also facilitate coordination on noncooperative action paths.

WORKING PAPER


Factors Affecting EV Adoption: A Literature Review and EV Forecast for Hawaii

Electric Vehicles (EVs) reduce or negate gasoline or diesel use in vehicles through integration with the electric grid. Both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)—which can draw from a battery as well as liquid fuel—and battery electric vehicles (BEVs)—solely powered through electricity—provide the opportunity for power-sharing with the electric grid and can potentially ease the integration of sources of intermittent renewable energy. This is a potentially important technology to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, local air pollution, and vehicular noise.


In this paper, we review studies informing the factors that affect EV adoption. We also review and harmonize studies that develop forecasts of EV adoption over time. We select a set of forecasts that represent low, reference, and high EV adoption and apply them to Hawaii-specific EV and car sales data to provide a preliminary forecast of potential EV adoption in Hawaii.

Read the full report at the Electric Vehicle Transportation Center.


Do Energy Efficiency Standards Hurt Consumers? Evidence from Household Appliance Sales

We examine the effect of energy efficiency standards on the clothes washers market using a constant-quality price index constructed from same-model price changes for a significant majority of clothes washer models sold in the United States between 2001 and 2011. We find constant-quality prices fell over time, while quality increased, particularly around times energy standards changed. We estimate total welfare changes by assuming the difference between average price and constant-quality price indicates average quality. Further examination shows product entry and exit are associated with changes federal standard for energy efficiency. With policy changes implicitly coordinating entry and exit, average vintage sharply falls when standards change. Controlling for individual model and time effects, we find that lower average vintage is associated with more rapidly falling prices, an effect we attribute to increased competition. We also find a strong relationship between clothes washer prices and average vintage of the same manufacturer, which indicates cannibalism explains much of the declining price of clothes washers over time. We apply the same methodology to other appliances (clothes dryer, room air conditioners and refrigerators) which did not experience simultaneous efficiency standard changes between 2001 and 2011. We see the same cannibalism in the market for clothes dryers, but not for room air conditioners or refrigerators. We also find notable improvements both in the characteristics of clothes washers that directly improve energy efficiency and those that promote convenience and space-saving. Energy efficiency standards appear to facilitate more rapid innovation and price declines.

Revised version, posted December 22, 2016

working Paper


Who Really Benefits from Agricultural Subsidies? Evidence from Field-level Data

If agricultural subsidies are largely capitalized into farmland values then expanding support for agriculture may not benefit farmers who rent the land they farm. Suddenly reducing subsidies may be problematic to the extent that land values already embody expectations about future subsidies. Existing evidence on the incidence of subsidies on land values is mixed. Identification is obscured by unobserved or imprecisely measured factors that tend to be correlated with subsidies, especially land quality and time-varying factors like commodity prices and adverse weather events. A problem that has received less attention is the fact that subsides and land quality on rented land may differ from owned land. Since most farms possess both rented and owned acreage, farm-level measures of subsidies, land values and rental rates may bias estimated incidence. Using a new, field-level data set that, for the first time, precisely links subsidies to land parcels, we show that this bias is considerable: Where farm-level estimates suggest an incidence of 20 to 79 cents of the marginal subsidy dollar, field-level estimates from the same farms indicate that landlords capture just 10–25 cents. The size of the farm and the duration of the rental arrangement have substantial effects. Incidence falls by 5–15 cents per acre when doubling total operated acres, and the incidence falls by 0.1–1.2 cents with each additional year of the rental arrangement. Low incidence of subsides on rents combined with the farm-size and duration effects suggest that farmers renting land have monopsony power.

Published Version: Barrett E. Kirwan, Michael J. Roberts; Who Really Benefits from Agricultural Subsidies? Evidence from Field-level Data. Pages 1095-1113 American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

WORKING PAPER VERSION


Vog: Using Volcanic Eruptions to Estimate the Health Costs of Particulates

The negative consequences of long-term exposure to particulate pollution are well-established but many studies find no effect of short-term exposure on health outcomes. The high correlation of industrial pollutant emissions complicates the estimation of the impact of individual pollutants on health. In this study, we use emissions from Kilauea volcano, which are uncorrelated with other pollution sources, to estimate the impact of pollutants on local emergency room admissions and a precise measure of costs. A one standard deviation increase in particulates leads to a 23-36% increase in expenditures on ER visits for pulmonary outcomes, mostly among the very young. Even in an area where air quality is well within the safety guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this estimate is larger than those in the existing literature on the short-term effects of particulates. No strong effects for cardiovascular outcomes are found.

Revised: Posted August 14, 2017

Forthcoming: Halliday, T. J., Lynham, J. and Paula, Á. (2018), Vog: Using Volcanic Eruptions to Estimate the Health Costs of Particulates. Econ J. Accepted Author Manuscript. . doi:10.1111/ecoj.12609

WORKING PAPER


Creating "Paradise of the Pacific": How Tourism Began in Hawaii

This article recounts the early years of one of the most successful tourist destinations in the world, Hawaii, from about 1870 to 1940. Tourism began in Hawaii when faster and more predictable steamships replaced sailing vessels in trans-Pacific travel. Governments (international, national, and local) were influential in shaping the way Hawaii tourism developed, from government mail subsidies to steamship companies, local funding for tourism promotion, and America’s protective legislation on domestic shipping. Hawaii also reaped a windfall from its location at the crossroads of the major trade routes in the Pacific region. The article concludes with policy lessons.

WORKING PAPER


Why Are There So Few Women in Executive Positions? An Analysis of Gender Differences in the Life-Cycle of Executive Employment

“Glass ceilings” and “sticky floors” are typical explanations for the low representation of women in top executive positions, but a focus on gender differences in promotions provides only a partial explanation. We consider the life-cycle of executive employment, which allows for a full characterization of the gender composition of executive management. We establish that there are few women in executive management because they have lower levels of human capital, are underrepresented in lower-level jobs, and are less likely to be perceived as high-productivity employees. We do not find that women have uniformly unfavorable promotion and demotion probabilities.

WORKING PAPER


Benefit-Cost Analysis of Watershed Conservation

The objectives of this report are (1) to review studies that estimate the relationship between watershed conservation activities and groundwater recharge in Hawai‘i and (2) to estimate the volume of freshwater yield saved per dollar invested in conservation at several sites on Hawai‘i Island. We conclude from the literature review that more work should be done to integrate information from smaller-scale studies of invasive-native water use differences into regional water balance models. This would help to inform decisions related to watershed conservation activities statewide. Using budget information obtained from the Nature Conservancy and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife as well as publicly available landcover and evapotranspiration (ET) data, we estimate the gallons of freshwater yield saved per dollar invested in watershed conservation. Under baseline conditions—a 3 percent discount rate and a 10 percent rate of spread for existing invasive plant species—roughly 400 gallons are saved on average across management sites per dollar invested. In other words, about $2.50 in present value terms is required to protect every one thousand gallons of freshwater over a 50 year time horizon. Annual benefits increase continuously as the avoided loss of freshwater yield rises over time, while conservation costs tend to be front-loaded, as a result of high fence installation and ungulate removal costs. Thus, it is important to consider the long run when comparing the benefits and costs of conservation activities.

working paper


An Economic and GHG Analysis of LNG in Hawaii

Hawaii currently meets the majority of its electricity needs through costly oil-fired generation causing rates to be nearly four times the national average (EIA, 2013a). The "shale gas revolution" has led to rapidly declining natural gas prices within the continental U.S. The emergence of a natural gas market that is de-linked from oil prices has renewed Hawaii's interest in natural gas imports. Potentially lower natural gas prices as well as the view that it will help to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions and increase energy supply security through domestic sourcing are major reasons why the State and key stakeholders are deliberating over importing large amounts of natural gas in liquefied form (liquefied natural gas or LNG). This study uses detailed models of Hawaii's electric sector and overall economy to estimate the impacts of Hawaii importing LNG for use in the electric sector.

WORKING PAPER


Why Does Real-Time Information Reduce Energy Consumption?

A number of studies have estimated how much energy conservation is achieved by providing households with real-time information on energy use via in-home displays. However, none of these studies tell us why real-time information changes energy-use behavior. We explore the causal mechanisms through which real-time information affects energy consumption by conducting a randomized-control trial with residential households. The experiment disentangles two competing mechanisms: (i) learning about the energy consumption of various activities, the “learning effect”, versus (ii) having a constant reminder of energy use, the “saliency effect”. We have two main results. First, we find a statistically significant treatment effect from receiving real-time information. Second, we find that learning plays a more prominent role than saliency in driving energy conservation. This finding supports the use of energy conservation programs that target consumer knowledge regarding energy use.

Published version: Lynham, J., Nitta, K., Saijo, T., & Tarui, N. (n.d.). Why does real-time information reduce energy consumption? Energy Economics. http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eneco.2015.11.007

Working Paper

 

 


A Hurricane’s Long-Term Economic Impact: the Case of Hawaii’s Iniki

The importance of understanding the macro-economic impact of natural disasters cannot be overstated. Hurricane Iniki, that hit the Hawaiian island of Kauai on September 11th, 1992, offers an ideal case study to better understand the long-term economic impacts of a major disaster. Iniki is uniquely suited to provide insights into the long-term economic impacts of disaster because (1) there is now seventeen years of detailed post-disaster economic data and (2) a nearby island, Maui, provides an ideal control group. Hurricane Iniki was the strongest hurricane to hit the Hawaiian Islands in recorded history, and wrought an estimated 7.4 billion (2008 US$) in initial damage. Here we show that Kauai’s economy only returned to pre-Iniki levels 7-8 years after the storm; though 17 years later, it has yet to recover in terms of its population and labor force. As we document, these long-term adverse impacts of disasters are ‘hidden.’ They are not usually treated as ‘costs’ of disasters, and are ignored when cost-benefit analysis of mitigation programs is used, or when countries, states, and islands attempt to prepare, financially and otherwise, to the possibility of future events.

WORKING PAPER


In the Eye of the Storm: Coping with Future Natural Disasters in Hawaii

Hurricane Iniki, that hit the island of Kauai on September 11th, 1992, was the strongest hurricane that hit the Hawaiian Islands in recorded history, and the one that wrought the most damage, estimated at 7.4 billion (in 2008 US$). We provide an assessment of Hawaii’s vulnerability to disasters using a framework developed for small islands. In addition, we provide an analysis of the ex post impact of Iniki on the economy of Kauai. Using indicators such as visitor arrivals and agricultural production, we show that Kauai’s economy only returned to pre-Iniki levels 7-8 years after the storm. Today, it has yet to recover in terms of population growth. As an island state, Hawaii is particularly susceptible to the occurrence of disasters. Even more worrying, Hawaii’s dependence on tourism, narrow export base, high level of imports and relatively small agricultural sector make Hawaii much more likely to struggle to recover in the aftermath. By thoroughly learning from Kauai’s experience and the state’s vulnerabilities, we hope we can better prepare for likely future disaster events.

WORKING PAPER


Incentivizing interdependent resource management: watersheds, groundwater, and coastal ecology

Managing water resources independently may result in substantial economic losses when those resources are interdependent with each other and with other environmental resources. We first develop general principles for using resources with spillovers, including corrective taxes (subsidies) for incentivizing private resource users. We then analyze specific cases of managing water resources, in particular the interaction of groundwater with upstream or downstream resource systems.

Published version: Burnett, Kimberly, Sittidaj Pongkijvorasin, James Roumasset, and Christopher A. Wada. "Incentivizing interdependent resource management: watersheds, groundwater and coastal ecology". Handbook of Water Economics. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015. Print.

WORKING PAPER


Groundwater Economics without Equations

In many parts of the world, irrigation and groundwater consumption are largely dependent on groundwater. Minimizing the adverse effects of water scarcity requires optimal as well as sustainable groundwater management. A common recommendation is to limit groundwater extraction to maximum sustainable yield (MSY). Although the optimal welfare-maximizing path of groundwater extraction converges to MSY in some cases, MSY generates waste in the short and medium term due to ambiguity regarding the transition to the desired long-run stock level and failure to account for the full costs of the resource. However, the price that incentivizes optimal consumption often exceeds the physical costs of extracting and distributing groundwater, which poses a problem for public utilities facing zero excess-revenue constraints. We discuss how the optimal price can be implemented in a revenue-neutral fashion using an increasing block pricing structure. The exposition is non-technical. More advanced references on groundwater resource management are also provided.

WORKING PAPER


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