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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Benefit-Cost Analysis in a Nuisance Lawsuit: State of North Carolina v. Tennessee Valley Authority

This seminar will be lead by Lisa Robinson, Senior Fellow, M-RCBG. Special guest will be Anne Smith, of NERA Economic Consulting. Enrolled Harvard students, faculty, fellows and staff are welcome to attend. Please RSVP to lisa_robinson@hks.harvard.edu to attend.

Description: In 2006, the State of North Carolina sued the power generating company, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in U.S. District Court to make a suite of emissions control investments at nine TVA power plants in states upwind of North Carolina. Although the nine plants were compliant with all emissions permits and regulations, North Carolina sought additional controls on the grounds that those plants’ emissions were imposing a nuisance on State residents, primarily through increased exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone. North Carolina submitted an environmental benefit-cost analysis to support its case that a public nuisance existed and that the prescribed set of control investments were a justifiable remedy. This litigation setting raised interesting questions about benefit-cost analysis’ appropriate conduct and interpretation, including the scope of the benefits calculation, levels of disaggregation, accounting for uncertainties, and decision criteria.

Presenter: Anne Smith is a senior vice president at NERA Economic Consulting, co-heading its Environment Group. As an economist and decision analyst, she has studied air quality, food safety, nuclear waste cleanup, and global climate change. She conducts policy analyses, provides business advisories, and serves as an expert in litigation and regulatory proceedings. She has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress on numerous occasions, and has conducted training courses in health risk assessment and risk management for staff of corporations and government agencies. Before joining NERA, Dr. Smith worked at Charles River Associates, Decision Focus Incorporated, SRI International, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Smith received her B.A. degree in Economics from Duke University and her Ph.D. degree in Economics from Stanford University, with a minor in Stanford’s Department of Management Sciences and Engineering.

  • Location:
    Hauser Conference Room, Belfer Building lobby level (B-L-4)
  • Date:
    Wednesday, February 12, 2014
  • Time:
    2:40 PM

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