Environmental Trade Fair Trade & Conference

Today I attended the first trade fair and conference event ever – The Environmental Trade Fair & Conference in May 2018 in Texas. Thus, I thought some materials and experience should be save here.

First up is the academic side of the event. Here are all the presentations of this year and the years before (2018 Agenda is here). Then some thought of the sessions that I attended

  1. Air Quality. The most intriguing presentation was Mr Stephen Dayton on Volkswagen environmental mitigation trust and the Texas emission reduction plan (TERP) – funded by Volkswagen. All plans and programs appear to be voluntary (basically providing incentives, incentive grants to offset the cost of environmentally friendly implementation), which I personally think is a proper approach.
    A good side of this approach is that we can monitor and measure the impact/effect of the implementation. For instance, the TERP Funding have provided over billions dollars and can measure the carbon emission reduction throughout the years.
    In terms of the mitigation trust, it is interesting to see the how the fund is working along with EPA. Also intriguing that the fund is administered by the TCEQ, which was selected by Governor Abbott, due to the fact that the fund is raised by not only VW but also Texas Gov and other govts.
    The TERP grant does encourage the companies to destroy their equipments before getting the grant, but it is ok for the companies to go ahead with buying new equipments and get reimbursed when they get the grant
  2. Water. Patrick Kading on Pubic Notification: transparency with your customers. The main answer for the Why question is: to build trust with customers, which I think it is yet thought of by many water companies in Vietnam.
  3. Water. Jennifer Allis et al. on Water right Permitting. It appeared as a fair and meaningful process. I would love to pilot it in Vietnam.
  4. Air Quality. I am interested in the new Differential Absorption Lidar (DIAL) technology for emission inventory. It was carefully described in Jill Dickey-Hull and his female fellow’s presentation.
  5. Air Quality. Danielle Nesvacil on Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program. Some new updates of the reporting year 2017 should be interesting to know. The HBCD category added; the De Minimis reporting levels updated. Form A and Form B scenarios on slide 28 are great examples to swipe out all the confusion. The TRI program also has a lot of online training, which is so necessary and that Vietnam can learn from.
  6. Air Permitting. Cheryl Covone et al. on Impacts Evaluation Procedure and Navigation of the New Effects Screening Level (ESL) Database.  The Modelling and Effects Review Applicability (MERA) guidance is something to be check out. In addition, they recently changed the convention toxicology database to dynamic database (no more published lists). All reports are submitted online, very much intuitive. Check out the the TOX ESL – Summary report for some demos.
  7. Waste management. Scott Pasternak et al. on the economic impacts of recycling. This was about a new study report in Texas, which impressed me for its well structure.
    – First is recycling rate calculation
    – Then Recycling costs, value and quality to operators and for the city.
    – Respondent expectations on the changes of recyclable materials and other waste.
    – Advancing the opportunities.
    – Grants and funding: funding sources, fostering effective public-private partnership.
    – Estimate the employment, wages and benefits in the recycling industry. Then using the Input-Output model to summary the total economic Impact of recycling on the Texas Economy. An impressive and so intuitive comparison with paper manufacturing, pipe line transportation and broadcasting. Such a good idea!
    It is also very nice of him that during the presentation, he used the term “recyclable material” in stead of “recycle waste”.
    A very interesting news raised for discussion in the session, that is the recycling chaos due to China’s import restriction. I’m gonna ask Scott more about that. Update: So Scott suggested some ways to response to the chaos, including being more careful about the quality of the recyclable materials and extending the market (Texas domestic market has a huge potential and there are more enterprises joining in)
    Then the peanut butter jar issue: can it be recycled? – Yes, but you’d better clean it up before throwing it to the recycle bin.
  8. Environmental quality. Gilberto Estrella on the Environmental Protection in Tamaulipa. It was amazing how they have changed the state from little works such as house repainting to urban images, urban planning, infrastructure and urban mobility. I also like the idea of work from home there.
  9.  Air emitting: Melissa Ruano on Emissions Banking and Trading Rule. So, Texas also has emission banking and trading with very detailed rules.
    – No inelastic source shut-downs and no major change in rule making. Those are good points to not scare out the operators.
    – The example was great (slide 12). The Baseline is the lower of HAE and SIP emission.
    – Step-by-step introduction for electronic submission (e.g. application for credit generation).



Economic valuation methods and CE

Recently I have received many questions from students and research fellows on valuation methods and particularly on Choice Experiment. From searching for them, I realize that I myself don’t have proper learning materials for newbies. Thus, I will start collecting them here.

  1. TCM: ecosystemvaluation.org (good sample exercise), its lecture note and some more exercises; Fast TCM by CBA builder (not accurate but fast)
  2. Wikipedia (don’t under-estimated it)
  3. ECON4910 in UiO. I found this particular lecture note worth reading, especially the NOAA on page 14.
  4. *NYU Stern’s material 1 and materials 2 and labs, data (or data 2) on CE
  5. List of materials on other valuation methods in Cornell Universtiy
  6. Aboutvalues.net: methods and cases
  7. Ecosystem valuation estimator in the Lower Mekong Basin by USAID; and more description here
  8. **APFNet’s course on ecosystem valuation, which links to plenty of valuable works (e.g. =>
  9. CVM: Start with this: Carson, R. T., & Hanemann, W. M. (2005). Contingent valuation. In Handbook of environmental economics (Vol. 2, pp. 821-936).FAO , John Bloomis, Randall* (or this), and the ubc.ca*
    Calculate WTP from  simple CVM1 (old method); simple CVM2 (abit more modern),and double-bounced CVM
  10. *Case studies of valuation method (great for making exercises)
  11. Phuong Duy Nguyen’s writing on the method, and many others

Dam removals

Undamming rivers is a rising trend. In the US, this has become a widespread movement, called a river restoration movement. Up to date, 1,185 dams have been removed and hundreds more are on the way. There are a couple of reasons listed: some dams have been there for more than 100 years, they are too old and facing major safety problems, some others are filled up by huge amount of sediments and turn out not very useful as designed, though their lifespans could be 100 years more. The Glen Canyon dam is just one example. However, the most intriguing reason is that people are having higher awareness on the value of ecosystem. They wish to somewhat recover the natural state of the rivers’ habitat, such as the Elwha’s. A good new, there has been some nice results.

I agree with this movement. I hope it will spread wider to developing countries, so dam removals would be considered even before they are built. Because, as I mentioned elsewhere, the option value, the value of the option to maintain future use, and the quasi-option value, which arising from expected new information from avoiding irreversible losses, are often higher than we think. So let us be cautious about changing the nature.


The term “No-regrets”

I first heard of this term from my supervisor when he talked about climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. In fact, it has been largely used in climate change work such as in IPCC or CSIRO reports. However, I personally think that it is an infeasible term (if you know what I mean, that’s we can theoretically define it, but we will never find it in reality -So what’s the point of using the term in practical decision-making?). I found that WWF did not use the term elsewhere, and now I know why :D. Interesting. We will come back to this topic soon. 

Databases and projects to keep track of in the Mekong delta

Some databases:

Some projects: