Outstanding Public Service through Economics Award 2018: Marc Ribaudo & Jim Shortle


The 2018 Award for Outstanding Public Service through Economics was awarded to Jim Shortle, Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education at Penn State University, and to Marc Ribaudo, who spent his 35-year career at the Economic Research Service, USDA. Here are excerpts from their nomination letters:


Marc Ribaudo 

Marc is a nationally-recognized expert on the impacts of agriculture on water quality, with a rich and broad publication record that includes over 60 USDA publications, more than 55 peer-reviewed journal articles, 35 book chapters and other publications, and over a hundred presentations and posters.

Marc has a body of well cited research outputs investigating costs and abatement strategies for agricultural nonpoint source pollution, which includes a highly cited work comparing source reduction and interception strategies. Several oft-cited articles -- which appear in journals ranging from the Journal of the American Water Resources Association to Ecological Economics -- consider various policy options, such as allocation strategies for conservation practice funding, non-point source trading, environmental credit trading, and cropland retirement.

Marc has been part of a number of broader research synthesis efforts. His most cited work provides a theoretical overview of the economics of water quality protection. Other well-cited work includes an ERS report and an Ecological Economics article on the use of markets for ecosystem services; a review of how the Conservation Reserve Program’s EBI came to be; and a land retirement tool for reducing agricultural nonpoint source pollution; and book chapters on the impacts of agriculture on water quality and on non-point source pollution control in the USA. Marc has also made direct contributions to natural resource policy assessment with his participation in national and regional teams, including teams sponsored by the White House, the National Academy of Sciences, and USDA.

During his 35-year career in public service, Marc’s research on agriculture and water quality has had far-reaching impacts on the design of U.S. conservation and environmental policy to reduce off-farm pollution. In 2004, Marc was awarded EPA’s Bronze Metal for Commendable Service for creating a regulation that balances environmental and business concerns. Similarly, Marc has received top honor awards from USDA, such as one for his body of work on the economics of animal waste management and one for his economic assessment of policy options to reduce agricultural pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. The AAEA has also recognized the impact of Marc’s public service with their Distinguished Policy Contribution award.


Jim Shortle

After decades of research, Jim is widely recognized as one of a leading authority on the economics of trading programs aimed at water quality. For example, his advice and expertise is regularly sought by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), especially its National Center for Environmental Economic (NCEE). For example, Jim was a key discussant when NCEE was preparing to conduct a benefit-cost analysis of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load program. The EPA has also called on Jim’s expertise and advice through its Science Advisory Board (SAB), where he has served on two panels (the Second Generation Model and Hydrologic Fracturing) and a standing committee (the Environmental Economics Advisory Board). SAB members are not just outstanding scholars; they must also be able to put their advice in a policy context. Jim has this rare ability among academics to provide practical policy advice backed up by scholarly research.

His public service extends beyond EPA and also beyond the topic of water quality, though his expertise in this area is often sought. Jim served on the NRC Committee on Water Quality in Southwest PA (2002-05). His term on the NRC was followed by service on the Pennsylvania Dept. of Env. Protection Subcommittee for Water Quality Trading (2006), tasked with initiating a point-nonpoint trading program in the Susquehanna River Basin. He has continued to work with Pennsylvania and other states on meeting Chesapeake Bay water quality goals. Jim has also advised the American Farmland Trust on Best Management Practices (2008-11). Apart from water quality, Jim spent ten years advising the Governor’s Climate Task Force and farm, environmental, and industry groups on climate change and adaptation. He also led three climate impact assessments for the State. Finally, he has also served on the Department of Energy’s National Technical Advisory Committee’s National Initiative on Global Environmental Change (1998-01), and the National Research Council (NRC) panel Science for EPA’s Future (2011-12).


To view previous recipients of this award, click here.


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