Non-Use Benefits: 800 Lb. Gorilla or Gentle Pussy Cat?

Thursday, August 25, 2016: 1:40 PM
Chouteau A (Sheraton at Crown Center)
William Dey , ASA Analysis & Communication, Inc, Washingtonville, NY
The 2014 §316(b) Rule requires consideration of the social benefits (including non-use benefits) in making entrainment BTA decisions.   Unfortunately, there has been considerable confusion and angst concerning non-use benefits within the 316(b) regulatory and regulated communities.  Non-use benefits arise from improvements in the non-use values of a natural resource.  The concept of non-use values is well established in natural resource economics, especially for highly prized resources, and encompasses the concepts of existence, bequest and paternalistic values that humans assign to these resources.  However, agreement on the magnitude of these benefits and assignment of actual economic values has been fraught with confusion and controversy.  This is especially true for resources potentially affected by the mortality of individuals such as entrainment of fish and shellfish.  In this paper, I will review the various components of non-use values and discuss why determination of the magnitude of such values has been so controversial.  Next, I will define the resources that need to be addressed when considering non-use benefits within the context of 316(b) entrainment BTA decision-making process.  Finally, I will discuss a framework for considering non-use benefits under 316(b) and make the case that, for many facilities, non-use benefits should be low or non-existent.