Resources Article

Inside RFF: A Look at What’s Happening

Mar 22, 2013

The 2011 Gilbert White Fellow Jintao Xu returned to his work at Peking University, where he will lead the launch of the new China Center for Energy and Development. 

RFF Research Director and Senior Fellow Karen Palmer was elected to the Council of the United States Association of Energy Economics.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, Working Group III, recently added RFF Fellow Sheila Olmstead as a contributing author.

RFF Senior Fellow Dick Morgenstern accepted an invitation to serve on the advisory board for the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law.

RFF Senior Fellow Allen Blackman was appointed to the Applied Sciences Team for NASA’s “SERVIR” centers, which use NASA’s Earth observation data to improve environmental management, disaster prevention and relief, and economic development in developing countries. In his role as principal investigator, Blackman is responsible for responding to short-term requests for advice from the centers and leading a research project that also involves RFF Associate Research Director and Fellow Juha Siikamäki.

RFF Senior Fellow Timothy Brennan was appointed as associate center faculty at the Rutgers Center for Research of Regulated Industries.

Lynn Scarlett, an RFF visiting scholar and co-director of the Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth, has been appointed to the National Research Council Board on Infrastructure in the Constructed Environment.

RFF University Fellow Jim Sanchirico received the 2012 Rosenstiel Award from the University of Miami for his research on the economics and ecology of spatial dynamic processes in renewable resources management and design of marine protected areas.

Meet RFF’s Newest Fellows

Two of RFF’s newest research fellows—Yusuke Kuwayama and Anthony Liu—describe their past, present, and future research interests.

Yusuke Kuwayama

Addressing Water Management Problems 

I first became interested in environmental issues at Amherst College. Although I was an economics major, I took several geology classes that introduced me to a wide variety of environmental issues and scientific approaches. I decided that I wanted to use economics to help understand how human behavior interacts with the environment. I followed up by taking my first environmental economics course at Smith College, and then I went on to study agricultural and applied economics at the graduate level at the University of Illinois.

My dissertation was on the economics of environmental regulation, with an emphasis on water resources and ecosystems—focused on agricultural water use and groundwater pollution. I showed that accounting for the complexity of environmental processes in economic optimization problems yields policy recommendations that are different from those currently offered in the literature, and that management practices reflecting these differences lead to better economic and environmental outcomes.

A new area of research for me since joining RFF is the costs and benefits of water resource impacts from unconventional fossil fuel development. Looking forward, I hope to continue addressing water resource management problems in a variety of contexts, particularly those that involve uncertainty and physical complexity.

Anthony Liu

Examining Environmental Economics in Developing Countries

Environmental and natural resource issues have a real and significant bearing on people in developing countries. Low-income people have minimal opportunities to mitigate the impacts of pollution and growing resource scarcity. At the same time, developing countries have some of the fastest growing environmental problems. I am interested in studying the economics at the intersection of these areas, focusing on issues relevant to the welfare of developing countries.

My dissertation focuses on environmental policy in the unique policy setting that developing countries provide. For example, developing countries have high levels of tax evasion. At the same time, they have rejected carbon taxes on the grounds that these taxes are expensive and unaffordable. I point out that carbon and energy taxes are known to be very difficult to evade, and I show how tax systems in developing countries can benefit by considering carbon taxes as a policy instrument.

I am currently located in Beijing on a joint appointment with the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. I would like to grow my portfolio of China-specific research topics and develop my expertise in China’s economy.

RFF Welcomes a New Board Member

C. Boyden Gray recently joined RFF’s Board of Directors, bringing significant expertise in international affairs and environmental issues to RFF’s leadership.

Gray is the founding partner of Boyden Gray & Associates, a law and regulatory strategy firm in Washington, DC, following many years of service to his nation in both domestic and diplomatic posts. As White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush, he assisted the president’s enactment of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, development of a cap-and-trade system for acid rain emissions, and enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which aimed to decrease American dependence on foreign oil, protect our environment, and promote economic growth. He previously had served as counsel to President Ronald Reagan’s Task Force on Regulatory Relief, and as counsel to Vice President Bush. Later, under President George W. Bush, he served as US Ambassador to the European Union, Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy Diplomacy, and Special Envoy for European Union Affairs. In addition to his public service and private legal work, he also serves on a number of boards dedicated to public health, regulatory reform, constitutional law, and other civic and charitable causes.