After a long and sometimes heated debate, a new U.S. Farm Bill was passed this week (being in a College of Ag, I'm required to know this for continued employment). Inside the bill is a little provision that is sure to spoil almost no one's holidays next year:
Tucked inside the massive new farm bill, which House Republican leaders are speeding to the floor, is a controversial 15-cent fee the government will collect on every Christmas tree cut in or imported into the U.S.
Dubbed the “Christmas tree tax” by opponents — a term to which industry backers vehemently object — it is an idea that’s been kicking around the Capitol for years, but finally got enough support to land inside the 959-page farm bill.
Nothing to lose? I'm no attorney, but recording a conversation without permission might be illegal. But nevermind, like an idiot, Mark let the battery on his giant cell phone run down before he planted it. So, Mark is going to bluff an obnoxious, and potentially dangerous if you ask me, Big Oil Company lobbyist who is also somehow the "right hand man" for The Senator (isn't it against the rules for someone in Congress to employ a lobbyist?) with a taped conversation that isn't.
What could go wrong? In reverse order of importance:
Johnny Walker teases Mark Trail about the size of his cellphone.
Johnny Walker loses it and beats the heck out of Mark Trail.
The Senator is disgusted by Mark's shady tactics, introduces the Lost National Forest Development Aact and gets rich developing the heck out of Lost National Forest.
Johnny Walker steals Mark Trail's giant cell phone while he is tracking the wounded "old buck" Elk, breaks the antiquated security system is seconds, downloads Mark's embarrassing selfies and shuts Mark up forever.
Mark Trail goes to jail for illegally recording a private conversation.
I continue to obsess about the faulty logic and contrived exclamatory conversations in Mark Trail leading to duel collapses of my research agenda (and I'm using that word loosely) and teaching evaluations, a scolding from the upper administration of the university and a continuation of my public humiliation.
Several dead or dying ash trees dot lawns along Canterbury Road, but only one has drawn the
attention of Upper Arlington city arborists.
Last week, Jim Lekoy and Scott Conover pointed to a dead limb in one backyard that hangs over a
set of power lines.
The city has ordered the homeowner to remove the tree before the limb snaps and falls on the
“They want to take it down in September,” Lekoy said. “We’re here to see if it will last that
Such visits have become more frequent as the emerald ash borer spreads through central Ohio,
where it is expected to kill nearly every mature ash tree by 2018.
Ash borers were first discovered in 2002 near Detroit, where they likely had hitched a ride in
wooden packing crates shipped from China. A minor pest in Asia where ashes are more resistant to
borers, the insects have proved deadly to North American ashes. Borer larvae eat the soft wood
under the bark, cutting off water and nutrients in the trees.
Is there a market failure in the tree nursery industry?
Insurance claim money earmarked for rebuilding a tornado-devastated tree nursery in eastern Kentucky may be spent instead to help close a state government budget gap, putting the nursery’s future at risk.
The nursery, one of two operated by the Kentucky Division of Forestry, was flattened by the March 2012 tornado that raked West Liberty in Morgan County. It produces more than 1 million seedlings a year, all native varieties chosen to match the region’s climate and soil. ...
The nursery offers native trees at a reasonable price, said Henry Duncan of Versailles, a past president of the Kentucky Woodland Owners Association, which has about 200 members.
The bare-root seedlings are available in bundles of 10 or 100 and range from $30 to $48 per bundle, according to the agency’s website.
Duncan said some of the work at the nursery seeks to bring back the American chestnut, which was wiped out by a blight in the early 1900s. The nursery also grows most of the trees for planting on reclaimed strip mines, he said.
The only other state nursery, in Western Kentucky, could not meet statewide demand, he said. Commercial nurseries out of state are more expensive and don’t usually offer seed stock that comes from Kentucky trees, which makes them better suited for survival in Kentucky, he added.
I can't think of any reason not to expect entry into this market by a private Kentucky nursery firm. The resulting seedling price might be higher without government subsidies but there may be little reason to subsidize tree growing.
That is, unless the carbon sequestration benefits exceed the cost of the subsidies. But I'd argue this is a role for the federal government and not the states. And those benefits are likely less than the costs since climate change is a global problem, the difference between the number of subsidized public seedlings and private seedlings is likely to have small climate impacts and the impacts are way down the road.
A recent episode of NPR’s Planet Money discussed Ecuador’s proposed solution to a national dilemma: the fact that a massive oil discovery and a national park happen to be in the same place. Ecuador’s proposal is to forswear drilling – but only if other countries donate half the value of the oil in aid (about $3.6 billion). For the show, Planet Money journalist David Kestenbaum interviewed RFF University Fellow and Duke University professor Billy Pizer, formerly Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment and Energy at the Treasury Department. Here’s how NPR summarized his comments:
“The joke we always used to always talk about was, you know, ‘Give me the money or I’ll shoot the trees,’ . . . Pizer says he’d love to keep the park safe. But he says the proposal worried him as a potential precedent that would encourage other countries to threaten to destroy their own forests unless the world pays up.
The show is worth a listen. But, inevitably, material gets left on the cutting room floor. Here are more of Pizer’s views on the Ecuadorian proposal.
I'll be making a site visit to these trees over the holidays:
After more than a decade of work by Kentucky highway officials and more than $850,000 spent in federal and state money redesigning U.S. 42 in Prospect, city officials now say they don’t want the project as it stands.
There is something they want more: Trees.
Trees are one of Prospect’s main attractions, and the state’s widening plan would wipe out at least 200 mature trees, including oaks and maples, on the mostly residential east side of U.S. 42, officials said. The City Council recently adopted a resolution opposing the proposal. ...
The plan called for widening about a mile of U.S. 42 through Prospect — between Harrods Creek and River Road — and originally included a grassy median with turning lanes. City officials, business leaders and residents had pressed for the widening — saying it was needed to handle traffic, which has almost doubled since 1991.
But now Mayor Todd Eberle said the widening would “destroy” Little Hunting Creek Park and move the roadway almost to the doorstep of City Hall. He said attitudes about the widening project have changed as Prospect has evolved during the past decade.
The only alternative — widening the road on the north side — would wipe out parking lots and cost more because utilities would have to be moved, and city officials have said some businesses might have to relocate. ...
The state highway plan budgeted up to $3.3 million for the project, which was also noted as a high priority in the plan. The current widening proposal would cost $2.4 million, transportation officials have said.
Other proposals, which included widening on the north side, ranged from $4.9 million to more than $11 million.
Grrrrr ... HOW MUCH MORE WOULD IT COST!!! Taking the difference and dividing by 200 I could boast that I know how much each tree is worth when I visit my family while driving that stretch of 42.
I do this all the time, read a bit of something I find interesting, excerpt it, write something (that I think is) clever, realize I should read the rest of the article before posting and making a fool of myself, finding that my snark is answered later in the article, delete what I first wrote and then write something not so fun. Well, for some reason I don't have the heart to delete the above text.
Anyway, each tree might be worth between $12,500 and $43,000.
We are glad to announce that the 2012 Sören Wibe
Prize was awarded to Christopher C. Moore, Thomas P. Holmes and
Kathleen. P. Bell, for their article "An attribute-based approach to
valuation of forest protection programs":
The article provides a well-structured, well-written, and innovative
piece of research in applying contingent valuation of welfare effects of
forest conservation in the special case of Eastern Hemlock in the
The article presents an "attribute based" CV method to study the
welfare gains, to carry out cost-benefit analysis, and to inform the
distribution of mitigation effort over land units. One of the key
questions studied is
the preference of the citizens concerning ecologically valuable sites
versus recreational sites. The results indicate, interestingly, that
people are willing to provide "substantial support" to programs that
ecological sites, in spite of their description "difficult for
visitors to access". For practical policy planning, the results are
interesting. First of all, welfare effects from conservation clearly
exceed the low
conservation costs, and almost any program with positive welfare
effects would pass the cost-benefit test. More importantly, when the
welfare effects of the weighted optimal allocation of conservation sites
to the actual program, it turns out that the current allocation is
strongly biased towards human-use sites as compared to a much larger
share of ecological sites of the optimal allocation. The study
although many conservation programs may pass the cost-benefit tests,
significant welfare gains are possible if the preferences of the public
are correctly accounted for in the allocation of conservation measures
forest sites with different environmental benefits.
The 2012 Award Selection committee comprised of: Sashi Kant, Jari Kuuluvainen and David Newman (chair).
Thanks to the support of Sören Wibe's family, the Journal publisher
Elsevier, and the Department of Forest Economics at the Swedish
University of Agricultural Sciences, the prize winners will receive a
cash amount of
€ 2 000, and will be invited to give a lecture at the Swedish
University of Agricultural Sciences.
Runar Brännlund, Ola Carlén, Peichen Gong Editors Journal of Forest Economics
It was billed as a triumphant parade for a big chunk of history, but the space shuttle Endeavour's procession through Los Angeles has come with a catch: the city must chop down 400 trees.
Authorities have started felling some much-loved trees to let Nasa's pride and joy rumble from LAX through streets and boulevards to its final home at the California Science Center.
residents have protested against the sacrifice of pines, myrtles and
magnolias and other species lining the 12-mile route, saying it's a high
price for a two-day parade dubbed "mission 26", following the shuttle's
25 missions orbiting Earth.
"The move of the shuttle allows the city to be a part of this national
endeavor," Sabrina Barnes, Inglewood's director of parks, recreations
and library services, told the LA Times. "And gives the chance to address problematic trees that have eroded the landscape."
I have a feeling "problematic" means "ugly, in my snooty suburban elitist opinion."
**Note, I have nothing against the English, I just get perverse pleasure
from referring to the esteemed English gentleman with whom I work and
who pointed me toward this story in The Guardian, a Brit, and then watching him bristle in his fine English way.
"This blog aims to look at more of the microeconomic ideas that can be used toward environmental ends. Bringing to bear a large quantity of external sources and articles, this blog presents a clear vision of what economic environmentalism can be."
... the Environmental Economics blog ... is now the default homepage on my browser (but then again, I guess I am a wonk -- a word I learned on the E.E. blog). That is a very nice service to the profession. -- Anonymous
"... I try and read the blog everyday and have pointed it out to other faculty who have their students read it for class. It is truly one of the best things in the blogosphere." -- Anonymous