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Outstanding Public Service through Economics Award 2017

NAREA has an annual Award for Outstanding Public Service through Economics. This award honors and recognizes economists who have applied agricultural, environmental, consumer, resource, or community development economics in a unique way that has contributed toward solving an important problem and improving the welfare of society.

Dallas Burtraw
Will Wheeler presenting Dallas Butraw with the 2017 Award for Outstanding Public Service through Economics

The 2017 Award for Outstanding Public Service through Economics was awarded to Dallas Butraw, Darius Gaskins Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future and one of the nation’s foremost experts on environmental regulation in the electricity sector. Here are excerpts from the nomination letter:

Burtraw’s current areas of research include analysis of the distributional and regional consequences of various approaches to national climate policy. He also has conducted analysis and provided technical support in the design of carbon dioxide emissions trading programs in the Northeast states, California, and the European Union. He has also studied and written about regulation of greenhouse gases, nitrogen and sulfur dioxide under the Clean Air Act and has conducted integrated assessment modeling of health and ecosystem effects and valuation, including the estimation of benefits of the value of natural resources in the Adirondack Park and the southern Appalachian region through surveying area residents on their willingness to pay for improvements. Burtraw is particularly interested in incentive-based approaches for environmental regulation and infusing greater incentives into traditional approaches to regulation, with attention to improving the cost-effectiveness of regulation under the Clean Air Act.

Burtraw holds a Ph.D. in economics and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis.

Dallas does not simply publish excellent work in peer-reviewed journals, although he does that. His vita is littered with reports to agencies, participation in workshops, and legislative testimonies regarding the actual design of policies such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, California’s AB32 (cap and trade for greenhouse gas emission), and other, similar programs. He has a bipartisan reputation for integrity, an increasingly rare trait.

It’s one thing to write an op-ed extolling the virtues of market mechanisms for controlling pollution, it is quite another to actually design a program that works, among competing interests that have different preferences regarding, say, pricing and auction allowances, and overlays existing state and federal regulations dealing with air pollution (and utilities!). Dallas does this and it’s exactly the work that this award is meant to recognize.


Previous recipients include:

2002 Bruce Gardner
2003 Adesoji Adelaja
2004 Paul Portney
2005 Sandra Batie
2006 Thomas Johnson
2007 Nelson Bills
2008 Walter Armbruster
2009 James Horne
2010 Tom Tietenberg
2011 Ronald W. Cotterill
2012 Katherine "Kitty" Smith
2013 Al McGartland
2014 Julie Caswell
2015 Stephan Goetz
2016 David Just
2017 Dallas Butraw