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Extramural Research

Funding Opportunities

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Valuation for Environmental Policy

Opening Date: February 5, 2003
Closing Date: May 13, 2003

Summary of Program Requirements
Background
Scope of Research
References
Funding
Eligibility
Standard Instructions for Submitting an Application
Sorting Code
Contacts

Get Standard STAR Forms and Instructions (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/)
View NCER Research Capsules (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/publications/topical/)
View Research Awarded Under Previous Solicitations (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/archive/grants/)

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information

Program Title: Valuation for Environmental Policy

Synopsis of Program:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications for research to develop methods, models, and empirical estimates to improve the valuation of human health and ecological endpoints at risk from environmental harm. EPA is emphasizing two focus areas: results that can be widely applied or transferred from one situation to another and research that improves the accuracy of benefit transfer. This solicitation has two parts: Part 1-Human Health Valuation and Part 2-Ecological Valuation. The two focus areas are common across both parts.

Contact Person(s):

Will Wheeler; Phone: 202-564-4422; email: wheeler.william@epa.gov. Email inquires are preferred.

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s): 66.509

Eligibility Information:

Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments are eligible to apply. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program. See full announcement for eligibility information.

Award Information:

Anticipated Type of Award: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately six to eight (approximately three to four in each part)
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $2 million (approximately $1 million in each part)
Potential Funding per Grant: Up to $400,000 total during a period of up to 3 years
Limitations: Requests over $400,000 total will not be considered

Sorting Code(s):

The sorting code for applications submitted in response to this solicitation is
2003-STAR-G1 for Part 1-Human Health Valuation and 2003-STAR-G2 for Part 2-Ecological Valuation.

Deadline/Target Dates:

Letter of Intent Due Date(s): None
Application Proposal Due Date(s): May 13, 2003

BACKGROUND

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) announces an extramural STAR grant program supporting research into the valuation of environmentally-induced changes in human health (with an emphasis on children's health) and in ecological benefits.

Public decisions on environmental protection often depend on sound benefit-cost analysis or related economic assessments. EPA is interested in economic valuation research that will enhance the ability of all public and private stakeholders to evaluate environmental policies and actions. EPA is seeking applications for research develops theoretical and/or empirical methods and data to better estimate the economic value of changes in environmental conditions and their effects on human health and on ecological benefits (defined as the products, services, and amenities provided by ecosystems, including non-use values). EPA is most interested in studies that will provide empirical results suitable for application or transfer to a variety of situations and in the development of theoretically sound methods for performing benefit transfers.

For a number of years EPA, with the National Science Foundation, has sponsored a related research competition focusing on Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (DMVEP). For the past three years, EPA also funded a related competition to support research leading to improved valuation of reducing environmental risks to children's health. Information on these previous competitions may be found on the Internet through http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/archive/grants/.

For 2003, EPA is merging the objectives of these programs and soliciting grant applications that focus on Valuation for Environmental Policy. This solicitation has two parts: human health valuation (emphasizing adult and children's morbidity and children's mortality) and valuation of ecological benefits. This competition encourages proposals from researchers from all social, behavioral, and economic sciences. It encourages collaborations with non-social science disciplines such as engineering, the health sciences, or the ecological sciences when needed to answer important social science questions. It supports research conducted within a single disciplinary tradition as well as novel, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research. Awards made through this competition are dependent upon the responsiveness of the proposals to the announcement, the quality of the proposed research, the availability of funds, and EPA's existing research portfolio.

SCOPE OF RESEARCH

This solicitation emphasizes the development of methods and models for estimating the value of environmentally-induced changes to human health and ecological benefits. Research funded under this solicitation should facilitate widespread application or transfer of estimated values of environmental risk reductions from one situation to another. EPA chose this emphasis because there are a large number of health risks and ecological benefits for which there are no reliable values. Further, analysts largely rely on benefit transfer for most economic assessments and it is important that such transfers be made in an scientifically sound manner.

Valuation of human health and ecological benefits remain top priorities for decision-makers at all levels. However, there appear to be a large number of specific values for which estimates are not available. EPA currently believes that the best use of its grant resources-given the large number of unavailable values-is to develop credible and accurate values that can be widely applied or transferred. EPA is focusing on two areas of research in this solicitation. One focus is on the development of specific value estimates as well as methods, models, and data to provide estimates that can be widely applied or are amenable to benefit transfer. One approach that EPA wishes to investigate is the use of indicators or indices of human or ecological health as proxies for specific health states (e.g., Mitchell and Carson 1993; Johnson et al. 1997; see also the papers at http://www.bus.ucf.edu/mdickie/Health%20Workshop/Agenda.htm exit EPA

The second focus is on improving the accuracy of benefit transfer for health and ecological valuation. Time and cost considerations usually preclude collecting primary data to estimate benefits for individual environmental economic analyses. Decision-makers at all levels thus rely on benefit transfers for most economic assessments. However, many evaluations have been critical of the accuracy of transfers due to problems with aggregation, differences in goods, out-of-sample extrapolation, and violations of utility theory (e.g., Bergstrom and De Civita 1999, Delavan and Epp 2001, Smith and Pattanayak 2002, Smith et al. 2002) . Improving the accuracy of benefit transfer thus could improve environmental decision-making.

Successful proposals may be theoretical or empirical, but all proposals must demonstrate a sound basis in economic theory. Successful proposals also will demonstrate a thorough understanding of similar research and clearly articulate the contribution that will be made by the proposed research. Descriptions of projects funded under previous DMVEP or valuation of children's health solicitations are available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/grants/recipients_index.html.

Part 1--Human Health Valuation

EPA is soliciting proposals in two areas: widely applicable or transferable research that will develop theoretically consistent, empirically feasible, and policy relevant measures of values for reductions in human health conditions caused by environmental influences and improving the accuracy of benefit transfer for human health valuation.

Analysts routinely estimate the value of mortality risks when evaluating policy options, although most policies reduce both mortality and morbidity risks. While there is a substantial literature dealing with the valuation of adult mortality risks, estimates of the value of morbidity risk reductions are less common. Therefore this solicitation emphasizes the valuation of morbidity risks.
NCER also is continuing its emphasis on children's health valuation. Federal policy encourages health and safety regulations to recognize and explicitly account for risks to children. Research has shown that children differ from adults in both the type and the severity of environmentally-induced health effects. However, economic assessments have not always included appropriate values because valuation studies have typically focused on individual adults' willingness to pay to reduce risks to themselves, not children. Thus, information about the value of reducing risks to children is limited even as this information has become critical for selecting appropriate risk-reducing policies and actions. Because of these limitations, this solicitation particularly emphasizes studies that will improve the valuation of diminished children's health conditions that are caused by environmental influences.

Proposals should evaluate risks specifically affecting children or, for risks that affect multiple age groups, evaluate children as a distinct group. All proposals that value specific health risks should explicitly describe or state the exposure, dose-response, or risk assessment models that would be used to predict changes in those risks. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that involve experts from economics and other disciplines.

Examples of research questions of interest:

  • How and to what extent can mortality and morbidity risks be combined in a single theoretically-correct framework?
  • Can indices of health status be used as proxies for specific morbidity risks? How do individuals value changes in these indices? What is the relationship between the value for a reduced morbidity risk and the value of the corresponding expected change in an index?
  • How can analysts use values for individual symptoms to aggregate the value of morbidity risks, or particular subsets of morbidity risks, from the values placed on the individual symptoms that make up a risk?
  • What is the role of family/household structure (e.g., presence, absence, or number of children/parents in household) on the valuation of reduced health risks?
  • How do values for health risk reductions vary systematically with the characteristics of the risk and the population experiencing the risk? Example characteristics include:
    • age,
    • health status or baseline quality of life,
    • degree of pain and suffering,
    • disproportionate risk to vulnerable populations (especially children),
    • expected remaining life years
    • risk dimensions such as voluntary/involuntary, ordinary/catastrophic, delayed/immediate, natural/man-made, old/new, controllable/uncontrollable, necessary/unnecessary, and occasional/continuous (U.S. EPA 2000, 91-92).

EPA is not requesting proposals investigating the valuation of childhood asthma or adult mortality at this time. EPA (including NCER and the National Center for Environmental Economics) and other funding agencies are currently funding several studies in these areas and as these research efforts progress, EPA will evaluate the need for, and may solicit, further research on these topics. Further, EPA does not plan to support studies that estimate new values for risks with existing credible values. All else being equal, EPA also prefers to support studies that can be used to value more serious or widespread health effects. Funding priority will be given to studies that develop credible and accurate values for health risks currently without such values (e.g., risks for which existing values are derived from a cost-of-illness approach or outdated methods or data). See U.S. EPA 2000a, U.S. EPA 2000b, U.S. EPA 2001a, and U.S. EPA n.d. for inventories of cost-of-illness and willingness-to-pay values for morbidity.

Part 2--Ecological Valuation

EPA is soliciting proposals in two areas: widely applicable or transferable research that will develop theoretically consistent, empirically feasible, and policy relevant estimates of values for changes in ecological benefits (the products, services, and amenities provided by ecosystems, including non-use values) caused by environmental influences and improving the accuracy of benefit transfers for ecological valuation.

Most existing ecological valuation studies focus on relatively few pollutants or a handful of attributes, while many policies affect numerous pollutants that impact multiple attributes of ecosystems. For example, existing studies of the value of water quality have estimated values in the context of designated uses (e.g., Carson and Mitchell 1993), the presence of fish advisories (e.g., Jakus et al. 1997), the presence of toxic contamination (e.g., Montgomery and Needleman 1997), or the levels of a few specific pollutants (e.g. Needleman and Kealy 1995) but none of these studies estimated a comprehensive value including all of these attributes. Water quality policies, however, can affect the levels of dozens, if not hundreds, of pollutants that affect multiple attributes of aquatic resources.

Many of the studies that have evaluated benefit transfer have been critical of the method's accuracy. EPA is therefore interested in improving the accuracy of the benefit transfer method. One drawback to existing studies is that they have typically used a low number of sites with relatively high site-specific information about each site (e.g. Morrison et al. 2002). EPA is especially interested in methods that will improve, or test the accuracy of, benefit transfer in situations where policies affect a large number (hundreds or thousands) of sites and the information about each site is limited or is at a relatively aggregated level. In these situations, analysts may have only Census data to describe the population, and spatially-aggregate land use, hydrological, and biological data to characterize the environment and ecological risk. For example, Delavan and Epp (2001) and VandenBerg et al. (2001) both evaluated transfers of groundwater valuation using specific variables (including risk perceptions and attitudes) that could only be obtained by surveying the affected population. This level of detail does not correspond to the typical scale of policy evaluations of groundwater contamination (e.g., Letson et al 1998). Thus, the accuracy of policy evaluations using benefit transfer is not known.

All proposals that value specific ecological benefits should explicitly describe or state the risk assessment models that would be used to predict changes in the flow of those benefits. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that integrate experts from economics and other disciplines.

Examples of research questions of interest:

  • Is it possible to develop, specify, and estimate theoretically sound and tractable comprehensive frameworks or "meta-functions" that include all relevant or important attributes for valuation of broad classes of ecosystems (e.g. freshwater, estuaries, forests) or ecological benefits (e.g., recreational fishing)? How can these functions be estimated? (EPA is most interested in the development of these functions for ecosystems or ecological benefits with the widest applicability.)

  • Analysts frequently use point estimates based on mean values in benefit transfers although other methods, such as benefit function transfer, might be more accurate. What is the tradeoff between the accuracy associated with more detailed benefit transfers and the more detailed and costly information required? To what extent can simpler "reduced form" transfer functions mitigate inaccuracies?

  • Can indices of ecological quality be used as proxies for specific ecological benefits? How do individuals value marginal changes in these indices? What is the relationship between the value for a change in a specific ecological benefit and the value of the corresponding change in an index?

  • How should analysts estimate the value of reducing the cumulative impact of multiple stressors on multiple ecological benefits?

  • What are the relative values of various benefits provided by a given ecosystem and what are the most efficient methods of valuing these benefits? Which benefits from an ecosystem contribute most directly to human well-being? For example, Hoehn et al. (http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/display.abstractDetail/abstract/215/report/0) found that people perceived plant and animal habitat as the key service provided by wetlands, while others have focused on flood control and water quality.

REFERENCES

Bergstrom, John C., and Paul De Civita. 1999. "Status of Benefits Transfer in the United States and Canada: A Review." Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics 47: 79-87.

Carson, Richard T., and Robert Cameron Mitchell. 1993. "The Value of Clean Water: The Public's Willingness to Pay for Boatable, Fishable, and Swimmable Quality Water." Water Resources Research 29 (7): 2445-2454.

Delavan, Willard, and Donald J. Epp. 2001. "Benefits Transfer: The Case of Nitrate Contamination in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Maine." In The Economic Value of Water Quality. John C. Begstrom, Kevin J. Boyle, and Gregory L. Poe (eds.), Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 121-136.

Jakus, Paul M., Mark Downing, Mark S. Bevelheimer, and J. Mark Fly. 1997. "Do Sportfish Consumption Advisories Affect Reservoir Anglers' Site Choice?" Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 26 (2): 196-204.

Johnson, F. Reed, Erin E. Fries, and H. Spencer Banzhaf. 1997. "Valuing Morbidity: An Integration of the Willingness-to-Pay and Health-Status Index Literatures." Journal of Health Economics 16: 641-665.

Letson, David, Noel Gollehon, Vincent Breneman, Catherine Kascak, and Carlyle Mose. 1998. "Confined Animal Production and Groundwater Protection." Review of Agricultural Economics 20 (2): 348-364.

Montgomery, Mark, and Michael Needleman. 1997. "The Welfare Effects of Toxic Contamination in Freshwater Fish." Land Economics 73 (2): 211-223.

Morrison, Mark, Jeff Bennett, Russell Blamey, and Jordan Louviere. 2002. "Choice Modeling and Tests of Benefit Transfer." American Journal of Agricultural Economics 84, 1: 161-170.

Needleman, Michael S., and Mary Jo Kealy. 1995. "Recreational Swimming Benefits of New Hampshire Lake Water Quality Policies: An Application of a Repeated Discrete Choice Model." Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 24 (1): 78-87.

Smith, V. Kerry, and Subhrendu K. Pattanayak. 2002. "Is Meta-Analysis a Noah's Ark for Non-Market Valuation?" Environmental and Resource Economics 22 (1-2): 271-296.

Smith, V. Kerry, George Van Houtven, and Subhrendu K. Pattanayak. 2002. "Benefit Transfer via Preference Calibration: 'Prudential Algebra' for Policy." Land Economics 78 (1): 132-152.

U.S. EPA 2000a. Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analyses. EPA 240-R-00-003. (http://yosemite.epa.gov/ee/epa/eed.nsf/webpages/Guidelines.html)

U.S. EPA 2000b. Handbook for Non-Cancer Health Effects Valuation. (http://www.epa.gov/osp/spc/Homeqs.htm)

U.S. EPA 2001a. Children's Health Valuation Handbook. EPA 100-R-01-002.

U.S. EPA. 2001b. Environmental and Economic Benefit Analysis of Proposed Revisions to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Regulation and the Effluent Guidelines for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. EPA 821-R-01-002. (http://epa.gov/ost/guide/cafo/economics.html#envir)

U.S. EPA. n.d. Cost of Illness Handbook. (http://www.epa.gov/oppt/coi/view.html)

VandenBerg, Timothy P., Gregory L. Poe, and John R. Powell. 2001. "Assessing the Accuracy of Benefits Transfers: Evidence from a Multi-Site Contingent Valuation Study of Ground Water Quality." In The Economic Value of Water Quality. John C. Begstrom, Kevin J. Boyle, and Gregory L. Poe (eds.), Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 100-120.

FUNDING

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $2 million will be awarded, depending on the availability of funds. EPA anticipates awarding approximately six to eight grants totaling about $2 million under this RFA. EPA expects to split the total amount approximately equally across the two parts of this solicitation. The projected range is from $50,000 to $200,000 per award per year, with durations from one to three years, with total funding not exceeding $400,000. Field experiments, survey research, and multi-investigator projects may justify the higher funding level. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $400,000, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered.

ELIGIBILITY

Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments, are eligible to apply. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program.

National laboratories funded by federal agencies (Federally-funded Research and Development Centers, "FFRDCs") may not apply. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the principal investigator, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization or principal investigator. The principal investigator's institution, organization, or governance may provide funds through its grant from EPA to a FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research. However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.

Federal agencies may not apply. Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a grant, and may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program. However, federal employees may interact with grantees so long as their involvement is not essential to achieving the basic goals of the grant. EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant principal investigators for the sole purpose of exchanging information in research areas of common interest that may add value to their respective research activities. This interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant. Interaction that is "incidental" does not involve resource commitments.

The principal investigator's institution may enter into an agreement with a federal agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere. A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal agency involved which commits it to supply the specified service.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Jack Puzak in NCER, phone (202) 564-6825, email:puzak.jack@epa.gov

STANDARD INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION

The Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application including the necessary forms will be found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/.

SORTING CODE

The need for a sorting code to be used in the application and for mailing is described in the Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application. The sorting code for applications submitted in response to Part 1-Human Health Valuation of this solicitation is 2003-STAR-G1. The sorting code for applications submitted in response to Part 2-Ecological Valuation of this solicitation is 2003-STAR-G2.

The deadline for receipt of the applications by NCER is no later than 4:00 p.m. ET, May 13th, 2003.

CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA official indicated below. Email inquiries are preferred.
Will Wheeler (202) 564-4422
wheeler.william@epa.gov

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