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Proxy Variables from Pollution Control

Daines, David R., Heady, Earl O.
Journal of environmental quality 1983 v.12 no.2 pp. 203-208
agricultural soils, environmental policy, farms, models, pollution, pollution control, soil erosion, soil management, taxes, United States
Where the level of pollution from one farm cannot be reliably measured or estimated, environmental policies may be difficult to formulate and enforce. For this situation, a policy approach is suggested, which focuses on variables other than direct output of pollution. The use of proxy variables is illustrated in an analysis of alternative policies for controlling agricultural soil loss in the United States. An interregional programming model of U.S. agriculture is used to analyze and compare the proxy variable approach to direct limits and taxes on gross soil loss, with soil management practices employed as proxy variables. In achieving targeted soil loss reductions, the soil management practice policy would be less costly to society than a direct limit of 12.5 t/ha of soil loss, but a tax on each t of soil loss would be the least costly approach, assuming that soil loss could be easily quantified.