Stories for February
Dividing Lines—and Common Ground—Between Rural and Urban Voters on Environmental Policy
Rural Americans have an outsized impact on national environmental policy, from strong representation in the halls of Congress to management of vast swaths of lands and watersheds.

A new report, led by the Nicholas Institute, aims to better understand attitudes of this influential voting bloc toward environmental regulation and conservation of natural resources. The report shows clear differences between rural voters and their urban and suburban counterparts over approaches to environmental issues, but it also points to evidence that could guide ways to bridge the divide.
Immersed in the Blue Economy
The balance between protecting ocean resources and still relying on them for livelihoods is at the heart of what is known as the blue economy: sustainable economic development of the oceans that cover 70 percent of the earth’s surface and produce half its oxygen.

Duke Stories explores how scholars across Duke are working to expand humanity’s understanding of the ocean, consistent with the university's mission to seek solutions to the world's most pressing problems. From the Marine Lab at the Nicholas School of the Environment to the Fuqua School of Business, and from Duke Law to the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke researchers are working on the complex regulations governing the use of the ocean, and studying the impact of industry on its teeming diversity of life.
GEMS Develops Metrics to Gauge
Oyster Reef Restoration Progress in Gulf of Mexico
Billions of dollars will be spent on large-scale restoration of Gulf of Mexico ecosystems over the coming decades. GEMS—short for Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Service Logic Models and Socio-Economic Indicators—is an effort by the Nicholas Institute, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, and The Nature Conservancy to develop standardized ways to measure restoration progress.

Now complete, Phase I of GEMS focused on developing socioeconomic metrics for oyster reef restoration with stakeholders from Gulf states, relevant federal agencies, and technical experts.
Report Provides Guidance for Mitigation Policies
on Federal Lands
When designing construction and development projects, it can be difficult to avoid impacts to
natural resources. Rather than prohibiting resource-impacting development altogether, the federal
government allows developers to mitigate their resource impacts.

A new Nicholas Institute report offers considerations and recommendations to U.S. federal agencies creating compensatory mitigation policies for aquatic resources, such as streams and wetlands, on their lands.

Robert Bonnie, Emily Pechar Diamond, and Elizabeth Rowe

Rural Americans matter—a lot—to the fate of U.S. environmental policy. This study explores: 1) the attitudes of rural Americans toward the environment and environmental policy; 2) what accounts for the apparent rural/urban divide on attitudes toward environmental policy; and 3) whether there are alternative policies, communications strategies, or, more broadly, ways to engage rural voters and constituencies that might bridge the urban/rural divide on the environment.

Tibor Vegh and Brian C. Murray

This article from The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development examines the intricacies of environmental credit generation from concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) farm systems, and describes the stacking problem and explores possible solu­tions, such as temporal constraints on credit issuance and discounting credits to account for additionality problems.

Tanya Bryan, John Virdin, Tibor Vegh, Connie Y. Kot, Jesse Cleary, and Patrick N. Halpin

The loss of blue carbon ecosystems results in significant levels of carbon emissions and decreased supply of other ecosystem services. This study aims to provide a first step toward increasing the knowledge of the region’s blue carbon stocks, with a focus on mangroves, and of their financial value based on their carbon storage benefit alone.
Upcoming Events
  • Carbon Pricing in Wholesale Energy Markets. NYU's Institute for Policy Integrity and the Nicholas Institute are hosting this conference to focus on different approaches for carbon pricing in wholesale energy markets. Tuesday, March 3, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Washington, DC.
  • World Ocean Summit. John Virdin is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion about oceanic plastic pollution at this annual event hosted by The Economist Group. Monday, March 9–Tuesday, March 10. Tokyo, Japan.
  • Natural Capital Symposium. This is an annual convening of leaders to advance the science and practice of incorporating nature’s diverse values into decisions. John Virdin and Katie Warnell will be among the speakers. Monday, March 16–Wednesday, March 18. Stanford University, California.
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