This chapter explores how infrastructure arguments apply to environmental resources and contribute to the difficult tasks of valuing and managing these resources. It is organized into four sections. Section A briefly discusses some difficult valuation and management problems that plague economic analysis of environmental resources. Section B applies the infrastructure criteria and delineates environmental infrastructure. It shows how environmental infrastructures are mixed infrastructure and discusses the many different ways in which users generate massive social value, some of which is reflected in markets and much of which is not. Section C considers commons management and various complications. While the demand-side case for commons management is quite strong, there are strong countervailing concerns, including congestion, degradation, and depletion (conventional tragedy of the commons problems); interuse rivalrousness and incompatibilities (e.g., when pollution and swimming conflict); and negative externalities associated with the production of “public bads” that cause harm in interdependent systems (e.g., pollution that causes adverse health effects to people regardless of whether or not they use the resource). This section offers a few insights regarding how environmental regulation addresses these concerns while sustaining commons to the extent feasible. Section D considers how infrastructure analysis relates to the literatures on ecosystem services and multiple-use management.
Keywords: environmental resources; resource management; economic analysis; mixed infrastructure; commons management; infrastructure analysis; ecosystem services; multiple-use management
Chapter. 12444 words.
Subjects: Environment and Energy Law
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