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Your faculty and staff news since 1965
August 16, 2004
Volume 40, Number 1

Brookshire is expert resource for environmental economics


By Steve Carr

More than 33 years have passed since Economics Professor David Brookshire first got his feet wet in water issues. It was 1971 when he was appointed the National Water Commission’s staff economist. It was a fortunate and prescient appointment for the economics graduate, fresh from California State University, San Diego.

A year later, Brookshire joined the environmental studies staff as economist at the Bureau of Economic Analysis in the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Since then, he has been riding the perfect wave of resource and environmental economics.

In the 1970s, several major environmental legislative acts were passed including the Clean Air and Water Acts. This legislation created the need for new approaches and opened the door for the development of non-market valuation or the technique of placing value on environmental services such as air and water quality.

“It was an emerging and wonderful field,” Brookshire said. He was inspired to go back to school and entered the relatively unique and well reputed Ph.D. program at UNM in resource and environmental economics.

Brookshire was fortunate to get an early start in a field not totally embraced by traditional economists at the time.

“We were called on by the federal government to place values on environmental goods and services through the creation of a hypothetical market for changes, which was important for the implementation of the new environmental legislation,” he said.

One of his current projects is SAHRA or the center for the Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (see SAHRA story on page one of water supplement).