Economic Analysis

A substantial part of the work of the Office of Policy Analysis (PPA) requires analysis of the economic effects of natural resource policies and regulations, and the relationship between the economy, environment, natural resource use, and management—especially on issues that cross Interior bureau lines of responsibility and have interagency or intergovernmental implications.

Economics in the Office of Policy Analysis

The Chief DOI Economist is located in the Office of Policy Analysis and leads the economics team.  The mission of the team is to provide high-quality, objective, qualitative and quantitative advice, analysis, data visualization, review, writing, and presentations in a timely manner. Our efforts are often conducted in multi-disciplinary settings and encompass the breadth of Interior's portfolio.

PPA's team of economists brings a wealth of experience and education to help Interior address a full range of complex policy and economic issues related to natural resources, energy, and the environment. The economics team provides leadership and routinely works jointly with economists in Interior's bureaus, as well as with other Federal agencies. Additional information about the PPA economics team is available.

The economics team also has expertise in survey research and works with the Department’s Paperwork Reduction Act Coordinator to review submissions to OMB that contain surveys. This responsibility provides a broad overview of the Department's data collection activities and an opportunity to link data collection to Interior's land management responsibilities.

Extensive and Varied Work Experience

The PPA economics team collectively has years of experience spanning five different administrations, with specialized training in natural resource and environmental economics, economic modeling, benefit-cost analysis, econometrics, policy analysis, business, accounting, political science, sociology and international affairs. PPA economists provide a wide range of perspectives developed through experience with an array of Federal, private, academic, and international settings, including:

  • Interior's Office of Budget;
  • U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA);
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS);
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA);
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis;
  • The U.S Census Bureau;
  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS);
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO);
  • Private consulting (primarily for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency);
  • Academia (Georgetown University, George Washington University, Dickinson College, University of Massachusetts, among others);
  • Non-governmental Organizations (Resources for the Future); and
  • New Zealand Treasury.

Depth and Breadth of Projects

The PPA economics team has addressed a multitude of complex and pressing policy issues, many of a cross-cutting and multi-stakeholder nature. Issue areas where the Team has provided analytic support include; using markets and incentives to facilitate conservation; water banking and water transfers; analyzing data related to BIE-operated school; economic modeling for groundwater valuation; resource equivalency analysis; ecosystem services valuation for decision-making; and developing metrics for resource and habitat equivalency analysis. Some specific examples include:

  • Partnering with Forest Service and the University of Washington to study how social-media data could be used to improve our understanding of visitation on public lands.
  • Supporting the Recreation Fee Program’s activities, including developing options for allocating fee revenue, and developing reports required under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA)Led the preparation of the first ever report analyzing the economic impacts of Interior's activities and programs. The Office completed the third follow-up report in July 2012.
  • Working with the Office of Wildland Fire (OWF) to analyze and model the avoided costs of suppression and fuels management.
  • Inaugurating an annual report quantifying the economic contributions of Interior's activities and programs. Annual Economic Contribution reports are available here.
  • Convening economists from across the Department to share current work, provide training, and address current issues.  In addition to the annual DOI Economic Workshops, the Economics Team leads monthly meetings of the DOI Economics Community of Practice. Reports on the Workshops are here.
  • Bringing together recreation managers from across the Federal Government (Interior, Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and NOAA) to develop recommendations for improving how the land management agencies count and support visitors to public lands.
  • Co-chairing with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the group that undertook economic studies to support the Secretarial Determination on removing four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River.
  • Providing economic analysis to support policy initiates of the Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs.
  • Analyzing the effects of the presence of public lands on the economic growth of rural economies.
  • Preparing and/or commenting on numerous regulatory impact analyses, including: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hydraulic fracturing (fracking) regulations; Bureau of Indian Affairs land leasing regulations; various Office of Surface Mining regulations; BLM hard rock mining regulations; offshore oil and gas drilling safety regulations; regulations related to the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); and Natural Resource Damage Assessment Regulations for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) Hazardous Substances (43 CFR Part 11).
  • Evaluating the extent to which FWS conservation banking activities could be strengthened.
  • Reviewing and analyzing the royalty regime for a variety of resources, including oil shale and renewable energy resources (solar and wind).
  • Leading an evaluation of BLM's implementation of the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act.
  • Preparing a white paper on Native American economic development.
  • Supporting the economic policy development of the DOI Restoration Program and worked on over 200 damage assessment cases across the country, including the development of settlement claims for lost cultural uses, diminished recreational uses, injured species, and injured supporting habitats.  2020 publication available here.
  • Collaborating with USGS and BLM on the economic impact of ecosystem restoration, including a story map.
  • Leading an evaluation of the Bureau of Reclamation's title transfer program.

NRDAR Tribal Cultural Resources Project

Staff Bios

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