Valuing Visibility Improvements

Mountains in fog

Air pollution can reduce visibility, making wilderness or urban areas less appealing. IEc economists use innovative methods to help clients understand how the public values visibility and what these values imply for air pollution control. For instance, to assess the benefits of the Regional Haze Rule, IEc is leading a stated preference study for the National Park Service  that estimates the benefits of visibility improvements in national parks and other wilderness areas. The study incorporates national household survey data into statistical models that isolate values for visibility improvements from potential collateral health and/or ecological benefits. The results will be used to conduct cost-benefit analyses of control strategies proposed by regional air quality planning organizations. Pilot results from the research were featured in the Journal of Environmental Management (vol. 173, May 2016).

In related research, IEc is working with academic partners on a hedonic property value study that estimates how residential and urban populations value visibility improvements. Performed for EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards, the study uses a large property transaction dataset in combination with detailed air quality and visibility data from 15 different cities. The analyses are performed at a fine spatial scale and incorporate GIS-based analysis of air quality and viewshed conditions associated with each property sale.

Client National Park Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency