Common Resources

Welcome to Common Resources, RFF’s blog, where RFF experts and other professionals examine the economics of environmental and natural resource policies, provide policy-relevant insight and commentary, and unveil new RFF research. 

For questions about the blog, contact Pete Nelson, RFF communications director and managing editor of Common Resources, at

The views expressed in RFF blog posts are those of the authors and should not be attributed to Resources for the Future.

Common Resources

  • The Trump Administration and Climate

    Nov 10, 2016 | Nathan Richardson

    There will be plenty of time for deep thinking on the policy ramifications of last night’s surprising election result. Until then, here’s a quick summary of the likely impact of the Trump administration on climate and environmental policy.

  • Five Climate Guideposts for the Next Administration

    Nov 4, 2016 | David J. Hayes

    President Obama has established important baseline policies that address key aspects of climate change. As we see more and more evidence of climate change and appreciate the urgency of the issue, however, it is becoming clear that the next president will need to devote additional attention to all aspects of this particular challenge.

  • Franchising National Parks? Lessons from the Nobel Laureates

    Nov 2, 2016 | Margaret A. Walls

    A recent story in Outside magazine argued that it might be time to think about privatization of our national parks. With a deferred maintenance backlog that has ballooned to $12 billion, and difficulty prying the necessary funds from Congress in the annual appropriations process, everyone agrees that the parks are facing some serious financial and operational challenges.

  • RFF on the Issues: Providing Emissions Reductions Certainty with a Carbon Tax

    Oct 31, 2016 | Peter Nelson

    As the November election rapidly approaches, a ballot proposal in Washington state (Initiative 732) that would establish the first carbon tax in the nation continues to garner attention.

  • Bakken 2016: Managing a Downturn and Planning for an Uncertain Future

    Oct 28, 2016 | Daniel Raimi

    Western North Dakota is one of the most rural regions of the United States, and has experienced perhaps the most dramatic fiscal impacts of the shale revolution. Oil production from the Bakken and other “tight” formations peaked at more than 1.2 million barrels per day in late 2014, and impacts on city and county governments in the region is hard to overstate.

  • RFF on the Issues: Cross-Border Energy Sector Coordination in North America

    Oct 27, 2016 | Peter Nelson

    Last week, in the final presidential debate ahead of November’s election, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton commented that the United States would benefit from “an energy system that crosses borders.”

  • When Environmental Anxiety Confronted the Energy Crisis

    Oct 24, 2016 | Joel Darmstadter

    At an RFF seminar on October 5, 2016, panelists took up The Energy Crisis of the 1970s:  Looking Back, Looking Ahead. The event featured the recently published book Panic at the Pump: The Energy Crisis and the Transformation of American Politics in the 1970s, by Princeton historian Meg Jacobs, who spoke at the seminar. In addition to a panel discussion of energy security and policy for research and development, RFF Senior Fellow Joel Darmstadter spoke to how the energy crisis of the 1970s spurred greater consideration of environmental challenges.

  • RFF on the Issues: Effectively Managing California's Ongoing Drought

    Oct 21, 2016 | Peter Nelson

    Regulators in California lifted a statewide order to cut water consumption by 25 percent earlier this year, although the drought continues. Across the state, there is widespread concern that the May action to ease the mandatory limit was premature.

  • RFF on the Issues: Putting Carbon Tax Revenue to Work in Washington State

    Oct 19, 2016 | Peter Nelson

    In November, voters in Washington state will cast ballots on Initiative 732, which would establish the first tax on carbon emissions in the United States. As the election rapidly approaches, environmentalists have spoken out both for and against the initiative.

  • A Tool for Meeting Emissions Reductions Targets under a Carbon Tax

    Oct 17, 2016 | Marc Hafstead, Gilbert E. Metcalf, Roberton C. Williams III

    US climate goals are often stated in terms of emissions targets. As part of the recently ratified Paris Agreement, the United States pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. A cap-and-trade program (which sets a cap on aggregate emissions, equal to the target, and allows market forces to set a price on emissions) would be an obvious mechanism to achieve this target (or other longer-term targets).