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Solving the Phosphorus Pollution Puzzle: Synthesis and Directions for Future Research

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  • Cloé Garnache
  • Scott M. Swinton
  • Joseph A. Herriges
  • Frank Lupi
  • R. Jan Stevenson

Abstract

Despite the success of efforts to reduce phosphorus (P) pollution from point sources, P from non-point agricultural sources remains a vexing problem with many U.S. water bodies having impairments. Key to solving the P pollution puzzle is to take stock of progress to date, the puzzle pieces available, and the gaps to be filled. In this paper, we synthesize the state of knowledge on P pollution, discuss the state of existing public programs, and review economists’ contributions to informing P pollution policies. We review the water quality valuation literature, identifying limitations in the linkages to policy-relevant environmental quality metrics. We examine how and why P is used agriculturally, along with recent advances in market-based policy design and field testing. We survey new knowledge in biology and engineering, including improved understanding of the fate and transport of P. In light of recent learning and persistent knowledge gaps, we recommend directions for economic research to add needed pieces to the puzzle of how to protect our water bodies. Puzzle gaps meriting attention include mechanisms to target public funds more effectively in voluntary abatement programs, policy design for emerging mitigation technologies, new ways to implement performance-based policies, means to leverage social norms and behavioral cues, changes in the “pay-the-polluter” paradigm, and application of state-of-the-art evaluation methods to conservation programs. Beyond the realm of public policy lies that of private supply chains, where establishment of environmental standards holds additional promise. Rich research opportunities exist for economists in tandem with biologists, engineers, and others.

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  • Cloé Garnache & Scott M. Swinton & Joseph A. Herriges & Frank Lupi & R. Jan Stevenson, 2016. "Solving the Phosphorus Pollution Puzzle: Synthesis and Directions for Future Research," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1334-1359.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ajagec:v:98:y:2016:i:5:p:1334-1359.
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    Cited by:

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    2. Hongxing Liu & Wendong Zhang & Elena Irwin & Jeffrey Kast & Noel Aloysius & Jay Martin & Margaret Kalcic, 2020. "Best Management Practices and Nutrient Reduction: An Integrated Economic-Hydrologic Model of the Western Lake Erie Basin," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 96(4), pages 510-530.
    3. Hongxing Liu & Wendong Zhang & Elena Irwin & Jeffrey Kast & Noel Aloysius & Jay Martin & Margaret Kalcic, 2020. "Best Management Practices and Nutrient Reduction: An Integrated Economic-Hydrologic Model of the Western Lake Erie Basin," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 96(4), pages 510-530.
    4. Stanley Udochukwu Ofoegbu, 2019. "Technological Challenges of Phosphorus Removal in High-Phosphorus Ores: Sustainability Implications and Possibilities for Greener Ore Processing," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(23), pages 1-38, November.
    5. Moore, Michael R. & Doubek, Jonathan P. & Xu, Hui & Cardinale, Bradley J., 2020. "Hedonic Price Estimates of Lake Water Quality: Valued Attribute, Instrumental Variables, and Ecological-Economic Benefits," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 176(C).
    6. Ndebele, Tom & Johnston, Robert J. & Newburn, David, 2020. "Transaction Costs and Household Adoption of Stormwater Best Management Practices," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304338, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. J. Walter Milon, 2019. "The polluter pays principle and Everglades restoration," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 9(1), pages 67-81, March.
    8. Cohen, Alex & Keiser, David A., 2017. "The effectiveness of incomplete and overlapping pollution regulation: Evidence from bans on phosphate in automatic dishwasher detergent," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 53-74.
    9. Hao Wang & Sander Meijerink & Erwin van der Krabben, 2020. "Institutional Design and Performance of Markets for Watershed Ecosystem Services: A Systematic Literature Review," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(16), pages 1-23, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agriculture; Ecosystem services; Nonpoint source pollution control; Phosphorus pollution; Valuation; Water quality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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