Resources

Optional texts

For a concise (affordable) introduction of environmental economics and policy, see Markets and the Environment (2nd edition), by Nathaniel Keohane and Sheila Olmstead.

For a more formal treatment of environmental economics, checkout (less math) The Economics of the Environment (1st Edition), by Peter Berck and Gloria Helfand, or (more math) Environmental Economics (2nd Edition), by Charles Kolstad.

For a fantastic (affordable) introduction to the econometric methods we will use in this class, I highly recommend “Mastering ‘Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect,” by Joshua D. Angrist and Jörn-Steffen Pischke.

All of the empirical tools used are also covered in “Introductory Econometrics: A Modern Approach,” by Jeffrey Wooldridge.


News sources

  • E&E News has several energy, climate, policy and green-tech news dailies. These are accessible to BC students while on campus. Can also sign up for daily emails. 
  • The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both have great energy and environmental coverage. You can sign up for free accounts through BC.
  • Axios Generate also tracks a wide range of stories. I highly recommend signing up for the daily email, which provides a quick overview of the top 2-4 energy stories each day, along with succinct summaries.
  • The Energy Information Administration is the best source for energy statistics in the US. They post (almost) daily on energy topics at Today in Energy, often with easy to interpret graphs/ statistics. [I think this is an ideal source for coming up with a paper topic.]
  • The DOE has a similar Fact of the Week email. This is a good way to come across data and transportation related research questions.
  • The most active spot for news and debate these days is actually probably #EnergyTwitter
  • For additional commentary, here are some of my favorite environmental economics blogs:

Data

SNL

For most groups, I highly recommend you start your data search on SNL Energy.

SNL has extensive data on electricity, coal and natural gas markets, including, but not limited to:

  • Location, type and production of every power plant in the US
  • Emissions from these plants
  • Rate cases from regulated utilities
  • Financials from public companies
  • Prices and consumption quantities of fuels and commodities.
  • GIS (map) data on energy infrastructure locations.

It also has data general economic indicators and demographics, as well as a good archive of industry relevant news articles.

The service is gated, but BC students can sign up for a free account by following the instructions on the BC libraries website. If you have issues with SNL or need additional help, please contact the economics librarian Jason Hall (hallaz@bc.edu).

Once you have an account, please take advantage of SNL’s help service! If you email with a detailed description of the data you are looking for, someone will typically get back to you with clear instructions within 24 hours.

US Energy Information Administration

Collects detailed surveys on every aspect of US energy markets. One way to see exactly what is collected is to look at this description of EIA surveys.

Note that this is the underlying source of much of the data on SNL, but SNL has done the hard work of cleaning the data. So typically it is best to get the data from SNL. But if you just want like one year of data or a simple series, EIA may be faster.

There are a couple interesting data sets here that you won’t find on SNL. For example, the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) conducts a representative survey of home energy use every five years.

DOE

For some reason, data on transportation is housed on a different part of the DOE. In particular, this is a good source of information on hybrid and electric cars, biofuels and charging stations. See the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

California

Based on state GDP, California would rank as one of the the largest economies in the world on its own. In addition to being large, it probably has the most ambitious state-level environmental policies in the nation. These programs are well documented and often detailed micro-data is made publicly available.

Two data sets that I want to flag, which have been used by project teams recently are data on solar installations and electric vehicle purchases, both of which document quantity at the zip code level.

Other sources

  • The US Census is the place to go for demographic information. It also has information on average home and rental prices, income and housing stock, which teams have used recently.
    • If you use R, there are some great packages which will pull this data right in for you. For example, tidy census.
  • [Neighborhood Change Database (GeoLytics) converts decennial Census data into a consistent panel data set, for the years 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000. This is gated by BC students can get access here.
    • If you decide to use this data, or want to conduct a spatial analysis of, for example, polluting plants and Census outcomes, email me for a student tutorial.
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)