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Water quality trading: credit stacking and ancillary benefits

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Title: Water quality trading: credit stacking and ancillary benefits
Author(s): Lentz, Adam T.
Advisor(s): Ando, Amy W.; Brozovic, Nicholas
Department / Program: Agr & Consumer Economics
Discipline: Agricultural & Applied Econ
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: M.S.
Genre: Thesis
Subject(s): Water quality trading credit stacking wetlands nitrogen pollution
Abstract: Ecosystems can provide many services. Wetlands, for example, can help mitigate water pollution from point sources as well as non-point sources, serve as habitat for wildlife, sequester carbon and serve as a place for recreation. Studies have found that these services can have substantial value to society. The sale of ecosystem credits has been found to be a possible way to finance construction investments in wetlands and easements to farmers to take their land out of production. At the same time, selling one ecosystem service credit may not always be enough to justify the investment. Traditionally market participants have only been allowed to sell a single credit from one piece of land, but recently there have been discussions about the possibility of selling more than one credit from a piece of land because it potentially could lead to more efficient ecosystem service provision. Selling multiple credits is sometimes referred to as credit stacking. This paper is an empirical study of the potential for credit stacking applied to the services provided by wetlands in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, specifically nitrogen, phosphorus and wildlife credits. In the setting of our study where costs are discrete rather than continuous we found that wetlands are a cost-effective way to reduce the nitrogen loads from wastewater treatment plants and that stacking nitrogen, phosphorus and wildlife credits may improve social welfare while leading to a higher level of ecosystem services. However, for credit stacking to be welfare improving we found that there needs to be a substantial demand for the credit that covers the majority of the investment in wetlands, while the credit aggregator has a choice between what ecosystem projects to undertake. If the credit that covers the majority of investment is sold first and is the sole basis of the investment decision and the objective is to improve welfare, a sequential implementation of ecosystem credits is not recommended; it would not lead to an increase in the total amount of ecosystem services provided though it would increase profit for the credit producer.
Issue Date: 2011-08-26
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/26362
Rights Information: 2011 Adam Tobias Bank Lentz
Date Available in IDEALS: 2013-08-27
Date Deposited: 2011-08
 

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