Environment and Forest

Economic analysis to support litigation, regulatory proceedings, and strategic decision making

Focus Areas

  • Climate Change
  • Regulation and Policy Analysis
  • Damages Assessment
  • Utilities
  • Water Resources
  • Agricultural Economics

 

Economic analysis can play a critical role in environmental and natural resource litigation, regulatory proceedings, and strategic decision making.

Analysis Group’s Environment and Natural Resources practitioners bring a broad range of expertise to client engagements. Our strengths in environmental and natural resource economics are complemented by skills in energy, finance, statistics, and industrial organization. We also work with a network of leading academic affiliates, including nationally recognized environmental and natural resource economists.

An interdisciplinary approach to economic analysis can be particularly useful in environmental and natural resource matters, as relevant evaluations often depend on analytical tools and economic expertise beyond the traditional scope of environmental and natural resource economics.

Our staff and affiliates have extensive experience with state and federal regulatory agencies, enabling us to provide a knowledgeable perspective on how economic analysis can influence the outcome of the regulatory process.

 

Regulation and Policy Analysis

Analysis Group helps companies, stakeholder groups, and government entities evaluate the costs, benefits, and risks of policies and regulations and develop strategies to adapt to them. We have consulted on regulatory and policy issues in areas such as:

  • Emissions of criteria pollutants subject to National Ambient Air Quality Standards
  • Greenhouses gases
  • Water use and discharge
  • Energy infrastructure

Our recent casework includes:

  • Projecting the costs and benefits to a large U.S. manufacturer of changes to provisions in Congressional cap-and-trade legislation for controlling greenhouse gases
  • Determining the cost impacts for utilities – and their consumers – of alternative water treatment strategies
  • Assessing the economic impact of combined sewer overflow controls
  • Critiquing economic estimates of the costs of AB 32, California’s “Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006″
  • Analyzing the economic impacts of alternative pollution control technologies for an agricultural operation

 

ssessing damages in environmental and natural resource matters requires advanced techniques not typically encountered in other practice areas, such as the estimation of non-market values. Analysis Group professionals have expertise in using hedonic pricing models, contingent valuation, real-options models, and other quantitative valuation methods to estimate damages.

 

Analysis of Property Values Amid Allegations of Contamination
Analysis Group was retained by a large utility facing a putative class action brought by private homeowners claiming that discharge from one of our client’s facilities contaminated their properties and caused a reduction in their property values.

Drawing on the resources of our varied practice areas, we assess damages and provide litigation support – including expert testimony and critique of opposing experts’ analyses – in a variety of environmental and natural resources related contexts. We have worked on matters involving air and water pollution stemming from hazardous materials such as PCBs, hydrocarbons or heavy metals, non-pollution land use impacts, toxic torts, Superfund designations, and endangered species and wetland impacts.

 

Property Value Impact
Upgrades to and expansions of existing electric transmission systems, and the creation of new transmission corridors, may prompt property owners to allege impacts on property values and intervene in the siting process. Analysis Group’s experts can evaluate possible impacts on property values and assist clients with navigating the regulatory process of siting new transmission line corridors or other utility installations. We can help in the following ways:

  • Public Information – Our experts can lead discussions with community groups or assist in developing communication strategies
  • Regulatory Hearings – We can support the application process by providing testimony at regulatory hearings
  • Right-of-Way Acquisition – We can provide expert testimony addressing the potential impact of the newly expanded or created rights-of-way on property values should the acquisition process result in litigation against the condemning entity

Transmission Lines and Residential Property Values
A utility seeks to transmit renewable energy from remote wind farms to load centers. The planned transmission project will cross multiple state lines, and residents of affected areas are preparing to intervene in the siting process claiming an unfair burden on their communities. Analysis Group experts have published research addressing key issues in the study of high-voltage transmission lines and their potential effect on residential property values.

Cost Allocation and Rate Setting
Our experts have performed analyses on a wide range of issues related to ratemaking. We have delivered expert testimony on ratemaking issues before state and federal regulatory commissions, focusing on such topics as various costs of service, cost allocations, rate designs, performance-based ratemaking, long-term contracts, and revenue decoupling.

We have also provided expertise – in the form of analysis and/or expert testimony – related to utility investment and procurement decisions, and wholesale ratemaking. In various engagements, our experts have:

  • Reviewed regulations for proposed power resources
  • Created integrated resource plans
  • Evaluated and approved procurement results
  • Designed mitigation measures to address concerns arising from transactions
  • Analyzed supporting requests for market-based rate authorities in wholesale electricity markets
  • Developed cost allocation policies for transmission investment

 

Water Resources

Economic analysis can be a critical component of determining the necessary level of environmental control. Analysis Group has significant expertise in performing analyses to evaluate economic criteria associated with environmental permitting and regulations.

We apply our expertise in environmental and natural resource economics to water resource litigation, water transactions, and the development of water resource policy.

Water Resource Management
Analysis Group has performed valuations of water resources and related infrastructure, designed and evaluated alternative water policies and management strategies, and conducted impact analyses of legal decisions and regulatory changes related to water supply and infrastructure. Our clients have included utilities, government agencies, and private land and water rights owners.

Water Quality
In many regulatory contexts, policymakers use economic criteria to determine whether specific permits or standards are appropriate. For example, state regulators can remove specific water body use restrictions if the required pollution controls would cause “substantial and widespread economic and social impact.”

What Is Water Worth?
Changing climate conditions are having both direct and indirect effects on water quality, quantity, and availability. Companies that rely on water in their daily operations are finding it increasingly difficult to quantify the value of this natural resource.

For companies and industry groups, we have conducted studies related to permitting of cooling water intake and discharge at power plants.

Climate Change and Water Resources
Analysis Group professionals have applied their expertise to water resources issues in the context of climate change. We have consulted in engagements involving:

  • Managing water resource use in energy generation
  • Balancing energy use in water resource transport
  • Developing strategic responses to water resource challenges arising from climate change

 

Agricultural Economics

Modern agriculture is being transformed by a host of economic factors including increased consolidation and use of contracting, technological change, environmental regulation, and collaboration in the development and marketing of new products.

Our expertise in agricultural institutions and markets, regulatory policy, business strategy, and litigation enable us to conduct in-depth analyses of emerging issues in this unique sector of the economy.

 

Food Safety Litigation

Our consultants offer a holistic approach to assessing damages in lawsuits that may emerge from food safety incidents.

We team with a number of academic and industry experts in litigation related to agricultural disputes. Our engagements have included:

  • Analyzing class certification, liability, and damages in the context of alleged price fixing of agricultural products
  • Examining the relationship between costs and prices in distribution chains for animal feed and livestock
  • Evaluating futures price data to assess the impact of contamination events on food producers
  • Critiquing models used to determine revenues associated with agricultural product transportation
  • Investigating the effects of fungicide use on orange grove production and profitability
  • Estimating lost wages resulting from hiring practices at food producers
  • Calculating patent infringement damages for genetically engineered crops
  • Assessing the economic impact of trademark infringement arising from the introduction of an enhanced milk product
  • Evaluating an insurance claim for business interruption losses associated with export of an agricultural product