Outstanding Public Service through Economics Award 2017: Dallas Burtraw

The 2017 Award for Outstanding Public Service through Economics was awarded to Dallas Burtraw, Darius Gaskins Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future and one of the nation’s foremost experts on environmental regulation in the electricity sector. Here are excerpts from the nomination letter:

Burtraw’s current areas of research include analysis of the distributional and regional consequences of various approaches to national climate policy. He also has conducted analysis and provided technical support in the design of carbon dioxide emissions trading programs in the Northeast states, California, and the European Union. He has also studied and written about regulation of greenhouse gases, nitrogen and sulfur dioxide under the Clean Air Act and has conducted integrated assessment modeling of health and ecosystem effects and valuation, including the estimation of benefits of the value of natural resources in the Adirondack Park and the southern Appalachian region through surveying area residents on their willingness to pay for improvements. Burtraw is particularly interested in incentive-based approaches for environmental regulation and infusing greater incentives into traditional approaches to regulation, with attention to improving the cost-effectiveness of regulation under the Clean Air Act.

Burtraw holds a Ph.D. in economics and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis.

Dallas does not simply publish excellent work in peer-reviewed journals, although he does that. His vita is littered with reports to agencies, participation in workshops, and legislative testimonies regarding the actual design of policies such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, California’s AB32 (cap and trade for greenhouse gas emission), and other, similar programs. He has a bipartisan reputation for integrity, an increasingly rare trait.

It’s one thing to write an op-ed extolling the virtues of market mechanisms for controlling pollution, it is quite another to actually design a program that works, among competing interests that have different preferences regarding, say, pricing and auction allowances, and overlays existing state and federal regulations dealing with air pollution (and utilities!). Dallas does this and it’s exactly the work that this award is meant to recognize.

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