Policy Research Shop Testimony: April 21, 2017

PRS Students Testify before the Vermont House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife

On Friday, April 21, 2017, two Class of 1964 Policy Research Shop students, Joby Bernstein ’17 and Bill Kosmidis ’19, traveled to Montpelier to testify before the Vermont House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, chaired by Rep. David Deen.  In a prior PRS testimony before the committee, PRS students had presented a policy brief that placed a valuation on Lake Champlain.  Following that testimony, Chairman Deen requested a similar valuation study for the Connecticut River. 

Bernstein and Kosmidis spent the fall and winter terms developing valuation methodologies for each of the following eight categories attributable to the Connecticut River for Vermont: community value added, tourism and recreation, fishing, managed resources (dams and water withdrawals), river health, flooding, ecosystem services, and intrinsic value. They then produced their report, “The Value of the Connecticut River: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Vermont Clean Water Act Spending,” (PRS Policy Brief 1617-06).  For the community value added section of the valuation, the students employed a hedonic pricing model that demonstrated the impact of the river on property values as well as on household incomes, by comparing property values and household incomes in zip code areas directly adjacent to the river along the entire 287-mile length of the river with those zip code areas one and two zip code areas away from the river.  For dams as managed resources, the students analyzed the assessed values of the eleven working dams on the river and the resulting tax revenues generated as well as the value of the energy produced by each of the dams.  Throughout their testimony, Bernstein and Kosmidis responded to questions from the chair as well as from committee members.   Chairman Deen concluded the hearing by thanking the students for their detailed and comprehensive analysis.  Joby, a senior is a veteran researcher in the Policy Research Shop.  Prior to this project, Joby testified before the New Hampshire Senate Finance Committee on the minimum wage in 2015.  He is an economics major with a double minor in public policy and environmental studies.  For Bill, a sophomore, this was his first testimony experience in the PRS.