Welcome!

taylor2_aereWelcome to my homepage!  I currently serve as Director of the Center for Environmental and Resource Economic Policy (CEnREP) and I am a Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Below, you’ll find some highlights of the events, news, research, and other items going on in my world.

Please check the CEnREP website for a lot more information, including summaries of my research and that of my terrific colleagues at NC State!

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Are neighborhoods stigmatized by past environmental contamination?

Photo Courtesy of Bill Benzon

Photo Courtesy of Bill Benzon

The following post is adapted from one written by me for the London School of Economics United States Policy and Politics blog, and is based on the article  “Disentangling property value impacts of environmental contamination from locally undesirable land uses: Implications for measuring post-cleanup stigma” published in the Journal of Urban Economics.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates over 450,000 properties are environmentally contaminated to such a degree that reuse or redevelopment of the property is likely to be hindered.

Many studies have shown that hazardous waste sites negatively impact residential properties that are in close proximity to the site, sometimes reducing property values by over 10 percent relative to comparable homes. Logic would suggest that once a site has been cleaned up, housing values nearby should rebound. However, the evidence has not always shown this to be the case. Some studies have suggested that property values only partially rebound after a site is remediated, indicating long-term stigmatization of neighborhoods is possible from past environmental contamination.

My co-authors, Daniel Phaneuf and Xiangping Liu, and I examined the stigma question by collecting information on all commercial and industrial properties (which I’ll simply call “commercial properties”) in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. We collected location information and environmental status for over 8,000 commercial properties in the region, and matched them to sales data for over 150,000 residential single-family homes.

Using homes that are not near any type of commercial property as our benchmark, we find that homes close to a contaminated commercial site sell for approximately 8 percent less than benchmark homes. However, we believe part of this negative impact is likely due to the fact that the neighbor is a commercial property and not the environmental contamination per se. This is because we also find that homes near clean commercial properties (those that have never had any known environmental contamination) also sell for a discount compared to the benchmark homes, but only by an average of 2 to 3 percent. Together, these results imply that environmental contamination has a significant additional negative influence on nearby residential property values beyond those that are associated with clean commercial properties.

The good news is that we also find that once hazardous wastes are removed from a site, the discount associated with being located close to the site is reduced. Approximately 64 percent of the hazardous sites in our sample were remediated during the study period. We find that sales prices rebounded around sites that were remediated so that they were ultimately no different than sales prices of homes around clean commercial properties. In other words, we could not find any evidence that homes suffered “stigma” from being near previously contaminated sites after the sites were remediated.

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New colleagues!

Spring 2016 was a semester of search committees!  I was on eight (8!) search committees for new faculty.  Yes, that’s a lot and yes it’s time consuming!  But I’m happy to direct my energy in that direction because we are fortunate to be able to bring fantastic new colleagues to campus!

The hiring that I’m involved with is possible because of the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program (CFEP), which has a goal of hiring 75 new faculty into 20 thematic areas.

sustainable-energy

global-washI’m co-leading the hiring in the Sustainable Energy Systems and Policy (SESP) initiative, and a member of the search committee for the Global WaSH (Water Sanitatin and Hygiene) initiative.

Both initiatives are fantastic opportunities that will bring fantastic faculty to campus who are doing impactful research at its best!  Below are three new economists that are coming to NCSU as a result of this spring’s hiring in these two initiatives.

Pic2Harrison Fell was our first hire and will join NC State as an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and a core faculty affiliate of CEnREP.  Harrison’s research focus is on energy and environmental economics.

raymond_guiteras_0

Raymond Guiteras will also be joining the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and will be a core faculty affiliate of CEnREP.  Raymond’s expertise is in development and environmental economics and he is hired as part of the Global WaSH initiative.  Recent work includes estimation of  the benefits of sanitation programs in India and the willingness to pay for clean water in northern Ghana.

Finally, Christopher Galik, is the third new core faculty affiliate joining CEnREP this fall.  Christopher, like me, is an NC State alumni.  He will join the Christopher GalikSchool of Public and International Affairs in the fall and is a public policy analyst with strengths in experimental economic policy focusing on climate and low-carbon energy policy.

 

It was an outstanding hiring season and I’m looking forward to a great fall with lots of new activity!

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October was all about Water

October was a month of water-events!  Public events, workshops, grants and publications — all focused on water — made it a busy water-resources-focused month!

First, great news that our CEnREP team, led by Roger von Haefen, won a major award from the US EPA to value restoration of wadeable streams in urbanizing watersheds!  The grant is highlighted in the News section of the CEnREP website — check it out!

IMG_0543IMG_0546In early October, as part of an RISF grant I received earlier this year, I hosted a workshop in which I sequestered away over 20 of NC State’s outstanding faculty researchers for two days in Wilmington, N.C.  The group represented more than a dozen departments and research units on campus and the purpose was to forge interdisciplinary connections and potential research programs.  It was two days spent facilitating research development & developing actions for moving NC State forward in water resources research over the coming year.  An exhausting two days, but incredibly rewarding!  (A shout out to my Leopold Leadership training for providing me with some great tools for “convening meetings that matter”!)

Laura Taylor at Stewards of the FutureAlso this month, I was busy preparing talks at public events.  NC State hosted a day-long outreach event on Water Stewardship, with a focus on the water/agriculture nexus.  The day included a keynote by Brian Richter, Director of Global Freshwater Strategies for The Nature Conservancy, and I participated in a session highlighting NC State research efforts around water resources management.

Also, the Triangle Land Conservancy hosted Wild Ideas for Clean Water, a terrific public event hosted after work hours at RTP headquarters (with catered local foods and craft beer — the audience was very relaxed!).  Presentations at the Wild Ideas event were “Pecha Kucha” style — 20 slides with 20 seconds per slide (and slides automatically advance, the speaker has no control!).  I practiced more for this talk than I have done in a long time!  You should try a Pecha Kucha talk sometime — it will really help you hone your content and style!  My slides are here and my talk is on youtube (starting at about 16 minutes into the evening).   In the water stewards and wild ideas talks, I highlighted work done to estimate the recreational value of improving water quality in N.C. by Roger von Haefen (CEnREP Associate Director) and some new work I’m doing with Christy Perrin (Water Resources Research Institute) and Zack Brown (CEnREP affiliated faculty @ NC State) on the willingness of homeowners to engage in stormwater BMP retrofits (versus just paying the local utility a stormwater fee to “take care” of the problem).

Rounding out the month of water-work, was finalizing a few revisions to a manuscript that focuses on managing urban water demand during times of drought.  Traditionally, the eastern U.S. has been thought of as a water-rich regime — averaging around 50″ of rainfall each year and seemingly plenty to meet residential, industrial, agricultural and ecological demands (compare our rainfall to 10-15″ for states like Colorado and Nevada and 20″ on average for California).

Drought Monitor 2011However, this notion is quickly changing.  Population and economic growth in the Southeast, combined with significant water quality degradation in lakes, rivers and estuaries — not to mention some crippling droughts over the past decade — are driving water resources to the forefront of the public’s mind.

Recent droughts in NC, and the implementation of voluntary and mandatory watering restrictions in many NC cities, gave us the opportunity to examine the effectiveness of these policies.  The work that I’m doing with Casey Wichman (Resources for the Future) and Roger von Haefen is profiled on the CEnREP website… read more about it here!

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