“Onsite Characteristics and Diversity Avoidance in Marine Recreational Fishing Demand” with Richard T. Woodward. (2023). Marine Resource Economics, 38(4). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/726025.
“A Coupled Recreational Anglers' Decision and Multi-Species Fish Population Dynamics Model” with Masami Fujiwara and Richard Woodward. (2018). PLoS One, 13(10), e0206537. DOI: doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0206537.
“Strategic Reporting and the Effects of Water Use in Hydraulic Fracturing on Local Groundwater Levels in Texas” [Download]
During the last two decades, oil and gas firms have learned to extract more hydrocarbons from unconventional geologic formations by increasing the amount of water, among other inputs, used in hydraulic well stimulations. Since many unconventional resources are located in relatively arid regions, the industry’s increasing water use has created concerns over the impacts on local availability. In this paper, I study two interrelated issues regarding the water use of the unconventional oil and gas industry in Texas. Using a unique dataset of well-level reports on input use, I show that firms’ propensity to disclose details on water use worsens when a well is located within a groundwater conservation district, and a causal link between reported water use in hydraulic fracturing treatments and declining local groundwater levels. The findings contribute to a growing literature studying responses to disclosure laws and are helpful to inform a variety of discussions on resource management. But welfare questions remain, given that significant mineral owner absenteeism suggests the beneficiaries of development are often not the same individuals facing its negative effects.
“Turning Public Information Into Private Benefits: A Natural Experiment in Oil and Gas Leasing Activity”
Proficiency in oil and gas extraction is dependent on firms acquiring drilling rights in areas with abundant resource stocks and designing an optimal development program. In this paper, I study the first of these decisions using the U.S. Geological Survey’s first large-scale resource assessment of a prolific oil basin as a quasi-natural experiment on leasing activity. I use the assessment's set of geologically-defined boundaries and estimates of oil and gas abundance within to study how firms used its predictions as a meta-level guide to narrow their search radius and acquire drilling rights in areas with better geology. Relative to activity in the unassessed areas of the basin, in the assessed areas I find economically significant changes in the size of a new lease, the number of new leases acquired, and several pecuniary and non-pecuniary terms on leases signed after the assessment was published. Since the areas predicted to have the greatest resource abundance also experienced the largest changes in leasing activity, my findings indicate that firms knew relatively little about the spatial distribution of the basin’s geology during its early development, and that a government-funded project shifted their focus to areas with greater productive potential. Such a change has important implications for resource management from an allocative efficiency standpoint, but it also raises concerns over equity and fairness for less sophisticated private mineral owners in these areas, many of whom were negotiating leases with extraction firms for the first time.
Using data on the site choices of marine recreational anglers fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, we build on previous literature that finds anglers are willing to encumber travel costs to avoid sites located in areas with more predominate Black and Hispanic populations. Upon exploring the nature of this discrimination, we find results that are consistent with the predictions of statistical discrimination theory, as more experienced anglers discriminate less than less experienced anglers. We also find some results consistent with taste-based discrimination, as we observe different degrees of discrimination among anglers from less (more) diverse trip origins. However, the evidence of taste-based discrimination disappears in analyses of a novel dataset containing angler-level race and ethnicity data.
Rapid technological diffusion has led to a heavy reliance on digital communication media, fundamentally changing how people transact and coordinate. This paper studies how adopting digital communication impacts efficiency and welfare distributions in a Coasian bargaining experiment. After replicating seminal face-to-face bargaining experiments, we find that conducting the same experiments in a digital environment leads to a more than doubling in self-regarding behavior and a 22.5 percent decrease in efficient decision-making. As many firms and institutions continue to wrestle with the migration of face-to-face activities to an online setting, our results offer insight into some potential effects of this transition.
“Corporate Power Purchase Agreements and Renewable Energy Growth” with Mathew Brander, Michael Gillenwater, and Charlie Inman
Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are contracts that have become popular among private firms attempting to meet voluntarily adopted climate goals. Using data from the U.S. EIA and Energy Acuity, we construct a dataset on the electricity generation portfolios for U.S. counties over 1990-2021 and estimate two-way fixed effects regressions to explore the effects of spatially and temporally varying PPAs on the deployment of renewables. We find that, in contrast to the voluntary renewable energy certificate market, PPAs have influenced aggregate renewable generation capacity, although the effects are heterogeneous. PPAs signed by non-utility entities (e.g., corporations) generally have a smaller effect than those signed by utilities, but the effects vary by the type of renewable energy project (solar or wind) and spatially based on renewable resource potential, with non-utility PPAs appearing more flexibly used. For GHG accounting purposes, non-utility PPAs are therefore better treated as interventions outside of emissions inventories.
“The Texas Grand Slam: Robbed by Red Tides?” with Yunyi Hu
A bloom of Karenia brevis (KB) cells, more commonly known as a red tide, is a notorious harmful algal bloom (HAB) observed in all coastal U.S. states. KB blooms present significant challenges as the cells emit brevetoxins, which cause numerous adverse health and environmental effects that degrade the function of markets dependent on the quality of local marine resources. In this paper, we estimate lower bounds of the social costs of red tides. In this paper, we study the effects on the behavior of marine recreational anglers that took trips to over 300 fishing sites along Texas’ 367-mile coastline over 2004-2019. Our primary contributions are twofold. First, we exploit a rare panel dataset of monthly site-level fishing pressures, which we use to provide the first estimates of the effects of random KB events in the reduced form, finding that a 1,000% increase in KB cell concentration reduces trips by 19%. Second, we use travel cost models and a rich dataset on fishing trip surveys to estimate the WTP to reduce KB cell concentrations at $22-$34 per angler per trip. Our findings suggest the social costs of red tides are large, and provide an example of where a better satellite prediction, detection, and monitoring program would be useful to inform the public of HAB events.