Denver’s Food Action Plan Program

This program highlights the benefits of a federalist style approach by allowing businesses, non-profits, and residents to work together to accomplish the goal of reducing food waste and food insecurity at a local level.

Montana’s Future Fisheries Improvement Program (FFIP)

In 1995, the Montana State Legislature established the Future Fisheries Improvement Program (FFIP). This program sought to expand project opportunities and funding allocated for fish habitat restoration in the state’s waterways.

State Coalitions and Private Companies Work to Revitalize Forests

With trees being so important, revitalizing areas where deforestation has occurred – the way Appalachian states have by partnering with coal companies and private organizations – key to ensuring the environmental stability of our lands.

Oregon’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program

Recognizing the major contribution that mobile sources have on the state's overall air quality, Oregon has set its sights on incentivizing the purchase of electric vehicles by offering rebates for residents that purchase or lease such vehicles - making them more affordable for low and [...]

Utah Grazing Improvement Program

In Utah, ranchers have strong incentives to maintain rangeland for their livestock, but unfortunately, they do not always possess the resources. Conversely, the federal government usually has the resources but lacks incentives.

Utah’s Cooperative Wildlife Management Units

Cooperative Wildlife Management Units are realistic solutions for the future of wildlife management in Utah.

Mass Timber: For the Forests, For the Homeless

Described as being “made from several layers of dried lumber boards stacked in alternating directions, glued and pressed to form rectangular panels,” Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) – the most popular variant of the Mass Timber construction process – promises to not only provide an outlet for [...]

Public-Private Partnerships in Waste Management

In 2018, China officially removed itself from its role as the world’s “garbage dump” by refusing to buy plastic scrap. Since then, much of the western world has scrambled for solutions to the “bales of trash piled up” in their communities. Subsequently, as attempts to reduce plastic waste, [...]

Colorado’s Water Quality Improvement Fund

By Andrew Rummens Abstract Trying to promote water quality while avoiding placing a burden on taxpayers is a tough juggling act for state and local governments. In Colorado, the Water Quality Control Act aims to mediate this problem by fining individuals and companies who pollute water while [...]

Institutional Adaptation to Water Scarcity in Utah Irrigation Companies

A review of how water institutions in the American West have changed in response to arid conditions as a means of examining the possibility of further change as an adaptation to climate change induced water scarcity. Two institutions are examined, prior appropriation and shares. While much of [...]

Interest Groups and Supreme Court Commerce Clause Regulation, 1920-1937

Did interest groups influence the Supreme Court’s interpretation of federal economic regulatory authority under the Commerce Clause leading up to the Supreme Court’s 1937 reversal? Recent scholarship has begun a renewed study of this tumultuous era seeking alternative explanations for the [...]


Sue-and-settle is the name applied to a federal agency’s use of litigation to create policy outside of the normal regulatory process. This paper discusses the impact that the sue-and-settle policy has had on Congress, the judiciary, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Specifically, this [...]

Politics and Energy

Nearly three-quarters of the USD 1.8 trillion of global energy investment is driven either by direct investing by state-owned enterprises or private-led investments incentivised by policies. In terms of direct investments, we see a growing role by state actors across all sectors in the past [...]

Utah’s Wood Burning Stove Replacement Project

Three areas in Utah exceed the particulate matter air pollution standards set by the EPA. Since 2014 the Utah Legislature has passed 55 bills related to air quality, and air quality has been one of Governor Herbert’s highest priorities. In addition to regulatory changes, some of the state’s [...]

Access to Reliable Energy is Not Just Important, it is Necessary to Prosper

While money may not buy happiness, money, or at least a minimum amount of money, is highly correlated with happiness and satisfaction. Some happiness studies,1 which we believe are relatively poor measures, show that people in rich countries are somewhat happier than those in poor countries. [...]

Federal Land in the United States

Federal lands are owned and managed by the United States government and cannot be owned by private individuals. Almost one-third (640 million acres) of the continental United States is federal land and is primarily located in the Western United States. This STRATA report identifies the division [...]

The Non-Expert Dilemma

Policies about energy production, distribution, reliability, and sources are non-expert problems. Most people want energy to be abundant and affordable. The problem for politicians is to try to sort between competing claims and make decisions, all while knowing they are groping in the dark.

Transaction Costs and Property Rights in the Development of Western Water Law

Irrigation is an art. Ask anyone who has plowed a ditch, set irrigation dams, used siphon tubes, changed sprinkler lines, laid drip line, or programmed center pivot systems. Farmers decide individually how best to practice that art depending on experience, terrain, soil type, elevation, [...]

A Tale of Two States

With the rapid growth of hydraulic fracturing, the Marcellus shale play has become one of the most profitable sources of oil and natural gas in the world.

Stepping On Prayers

The term “Bears Ears” has traditionally been used to refer to twin buttes located in Southeastern Utah. It is also the name of a National Monument that was designated by President Barack Obama in December 2016.

The Future of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in the U.S.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMR) have the potential to transform the nuclear energy industry in the US and across the world. SMR technology rejects the conventional wisdom of economies of scale in favor of a design and manufacturing environment that standardizes component production.

The Current State of Electric Vehicle Subsidies

Despite subsidies, for most consumers EVs remain less cost-effective than gasoline or gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles. However, declining battery prices and the promise of future innovation suggest that adoption rates may accelerate.

The Local Impacts of Environmental Regulations

Affordable and reliable energy allows us to travel quickly, feed large populations, provide modern health care, and keep our homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Yet, the energy we use to create higher standards of living can negatively impact our environment. Measuring [...]

U.S. Nuclear Power: Regulatory Barriers and Energy Potential

This report focuses on existing nuclear reactor technologies and begins by examining the history and science behind nuclear energy, as well as its potential benefits. It then reviews government policies that affect nuclear development, construction, and waste disposal.

Pipelines, Rails, and Trucks

Access to cheap and reliable energy is vital to the continued growth of the U.S. economy. In today’s energy market, oil and gas are both relatively cheap and reliable energy sources. The efficient transportation of these products ensures that Americans are able to fuel their day-to-day lives. [...]

A Bird in the Hand

The greater sage-grouse, a wild bird that lives across the Western United States, has become one of the most controversial species in American history. Over the past few decades, a political movement has worked to place the greater sage-grouse under the protection of the Endangered Species Act [...]

Improving the Endangered Species Act

The federal government protects species on the brink of extinction through the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The law’s goal is to allow these species to recover so that federal protection is no longer needed, but few species have actually recovered. Congress and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife [...]

The Footprint of Energy

Modern society requires a tremendous amount of electricity to function, and one of this generation’s greatest challenges is generating and distributing energy efficiently. Electricity generation is energy intensive, and each source leaves its own environmental and ecological footprint. Although [...]


Electricity generated from hydropower has been the largest component of the United States' renewable energy portfolio for over a century. Small and efficient hydropower installations have the potential to provide added amounts of clean and reliable renewable energy without substantial [...]

Renewable Portfolio Standards: North Carolina

The U.S. has no federal mandate for “renewable” power production. Instead, a majority of states, including North Carolina, have created their own state laws called Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). These laws mandate that electricity generators and utilities provide a certain amount of [...]

The Value of a Statistical Life: Economics and Politics

Government agencies design regulations that are meant to benefit Americans. However, each regulation also comes with costs. Ideally, agencies use benefit-cost analysis to decide whether a proposed regulation is worth the cost.

Endangered Species Act

The ESA is meant to preserve threatened and endangered species from extinction, but biases in funding, research, and public attention mean non-charismatic and lesser-known species are often overlooked. The ESA doesn’t consider the concerns of private landowners, and unintentionally incentivizes [...]

How Good Intentions Backfire

For several decades, federal policymakers have passed environmental laws to limit pollution, preserve environmental quality, and promote human health. Despite seemingly noble intentions, not all outcomes from these laws have been beneficial. The Institute of Political Economy (IPE) at Utah [...]

Water In Utah

Utah is one of the driest states in the country, yet it has one of the highest rates of water consumption. The Institute of Political Economy (IPE) at Utah State University examined the institutional, economic, and political barriers that prevent water from flowing to its most highly valued use [...]

Manufacturing Yellowstone

As the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2016, the Institute of Political Economy (IPE) at the Utah State University examined how NPS officials have made management decisions in Yellowstone National Park over the past century. In the report Manufacturing [...]

It’s Getting Better

Contrary to popular belief, environmental quality in the United States has been improving and continues to improve. Water quality is better than it has been in the last 100 years. The six pollutants that adversely affect outdoor air quality are down significantly. Indoor air quality is much [...]

Unseen Costs of Energy

The Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University released four studies that highlight the unseen costs of producing coal, natural gas, wind, and solar-generated electricity. The overall findings of the studies suggest American consumers are often paying considerably more for their [...]

Unseen Costs of Natural Gas Energy

>Since 2000, natural gas has become one of the largest sources of electricity in the United States. The Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University examined both the explicit and implicit costs of natural gas-generated electricity. The explicit, or seen, costs of electricity [...]

Unseen Costs of Solar Energy

In recent years, US solar power capacity has grown rapidly. Government subsidies and mandates, not market forces, are encouraging the development of solar power. Policymakers at both the federal and state level have enacted incentives for solar power to address constituents' desire to [...]

Unseen Costs of Coal Energy

Coal-generated electricity has both explicit and implicit costs. The explicit, or seen, costs of coal-fired electricity include the costs of power plant development and construction, operation & maintenance, and constructing and maintaining transmission infrastructure. Often overlooked, [...]

Unseen Costs Of Wind Energy

This research explores both explicit and implicit factors that influence the cost of producing electricity from different sources. The explicit, or seen, costs of electricity include the costs of power plant development and construction, operation & maintenance, and transmission [...]

Managing Water In The West: Private And Public

Functioning markets allow resources to flow to their most highly valued use. Agricultural, commercial, and municipal users all compete for this precious resource. Unfortunately, when it comes to water, markets are often either non-existent or thin. Several legal doctrines present obstacles to [...]

Ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard

Researchers at the Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University released a report that examines the history and impact of government subsidies for the corn ethanol industry on the U.S. economy and, more specifically, “corn belt” counties in the Midwest. The report also shows the [...]

Reliability of Renewable Energy

The Institute of Political Economy (IPE) at Utah State University has released a new set of reports titled: Reliability of Renewable Energy. These reports are an examination of the five most common sources of renewable electricity generation: wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and hydro. The [...]

Reliability of Renewable Energy: SOLAR

Many Americans are looking to limit the use of fossil fuels, and policymakers have responded by subsidizing and mandating solar-generated electricity. These government policies drive the growth of solar power, not market forces. One way to determine whether policymakers have made beneficial [...]

Reliability of Renewable Energy: WIND

Many Americans are looking to limit the use fossil fuels. Policymakers have responded by subsidizing and mandating wind-generated electricity. These government policies drive the growth of wind power, not market forces. One way to determine whether policymakers have made beneficial decisions [...]

Reliability of Renewable Energy: GEOTHERMAL

Many Americans are looking to limit the use of fossil fuels, which has led policymakers to mandate and subsidize renewable energy sources like geothermal power. Despite government assistance, geothermal power only generated 0.4 percent of U.S. electricity in 2014. In the Reliability of [...]

Reliability of Renewable Energy: BIOMASS

Many Americans are looking to limit the use of fossil fuels, which has led policymakers to mandate and subsidize biomass-generated electricity. Biomass is organic matter such as wood, grasses, or crop residues that are burned to produce electricity, much like coal. Despite government [...]

Reliability of Renewable Energy: HYDRO

Americans are becoming more concerned about climate change and environmental quality, and many want to see an increase in renewable energy sources. Hydropower has been an important source of renewable energy in the United States for over a century. About six percent of U.S. electricity came [...]

Equal Access to Justice Act

EAJA reimburses various groups for litigation costs when those groups lack the resources to take on the government. If the government is found to have violated its own policy, the government will pay the litigation costs to the plaintiffs.

Options for the Monetization of the Elliot State Forest

In recent years, environmental litigation has made the financial obligations of the ESF unattainable through timber harvest. The Oregon State Land Board is currently searching for options with which it can balance the legal and financial responsibilities of the forest with the social and [...]

Sharing Renewable Energy Payments

Renewable energy comes at a cost, and too often that cost is born mainly by local governments whose resources are used to facilitate the development. Roads need additional maintenance, water resources are depleted, view-sheds are modified, and wildlife is displaced. The Public Lands Renewable [...]

Energy in National Monuments

The 1906 Antiquities Act made it possible for the President to designate an area a national monument, thus limiting the activities that are allowed within the monument. The act was born out of a growing movement during the late 19th century to preserve archaeological sites, especially those in [...]

Economic Impacts of Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance Litigation on Local Communities

In our analysis, we find the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance's litigious actions often have negative economic impacts on local communities...

Carbon Tax

In politics there are often pressures to “do something” about a perceived problem even if we do not know what is the correct something, what is the correct amount of something, or even if doing something is the correct thing to do?. A carbon tax may be an example—we do not know if it is the [...]

Conservation and Economic Growth

In general, we find that counties with federal lands (especially Wilderness lands) do not have higher per capital income or higher tax receipts. The presence of federally designated Wilderness is associated with a decrease of $679,456.70 per year in total business activity (see Table 1). This [...]

Costs of Land Administration in Utah

The purpose of this report is to develop a metric for comparing costs across land administration entities with land management responsibilities within the State of Utah. For lands to be transferred to the State under the Transfer of Public Lands Act, we estimate the total per annum cost to the [...]

Green vs. Green

Renewable and carbon-neutral energy have been promoted as the future of energy production in the United States. Non-traditional energy sources show promise as alternatives to fossil fuels and may provide a sustainable source of energy in increasingly uncertain energy markets. However, these new [...]

Green Revenue? Local Governments and Wilderness Designation

The goal of this study is to explore the question: Do counties with designated Wilderness areas have more or less property and sales tax revenue than counties without Wilderness areas? Evaluating this question helps understand the larger question: Do designated wilderness areas increase or [...]

Economic Impacts of WildEarth Guardians Litigation on Local Communities

This study explores the economic impacts of legal and political interventions taken by WildEarth Guardians (WEG), an environmental group that specializes in bringing environmental lawsuits against uses of the public lands. We begin by examining empirical evidence of identifiable differences in [...]

Energy Regulation: Impacting Traditional and Green Energy Projects

Widespread and significant development of non-fossil, non-nuclear, non-hydro energy resources such as solar, wind, and geothermal faces three kinds of challenges: technical, economic and political. Each of these is as important to developing these energy resources as each leg of a three-legged [...]

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