Environmental Economics


FLOW’s environmental economics work seeks to engage public understanding and awareness of the economic benefits of environmental protections and government regulations, both over the last 50 years and in the future. Our environmental economics work included two Fall 2019 community engagement sessions and a series of four “Resetting Expectations” policy briefs by former board chair Skip Pruss.

FLOW held two community engagement sessions—on November 13 at the Traverse Area District Library, and on December 5 at the Grand Rapids Public Library. Please read our blog posts for synopses of the Traverse City and Grand Rapids events.

Government’s Role in Protecting the Environment

The last half century has witnessed sweeping changes in the public perception of government and its role in advancing the public interest and improving public welfare. Surveys today show public trust in government is in sharp decline and criticism of government has become a bipartisan social norm. To many, “government regulation” connotes undue interference with markets, competition, and the economy, yet, at the same time, surveys show overwhelming bipartisan support for the protection of air, water, public lands, and natural resources — an essential function of government.

To explain these contradictory outlooks, FLOW hosted two community engagement sessions — on November 13 in Traverse City and December 5 in Grand Rapids — and releasing four reports written by former FLOW board chair, and former director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, Skip Pruss that make the economic case for government’s role in protecting the environment and aim to reset the public narrative on environmental policy. These programs trace the history of environmental regulation, and illustrate how environmental policies protect individuals, families, and communities while fostering innovation and economic gains.


FLOW’s Reports:


Why Good Regulations are Good for our Great Lakes

“Resetting Expectations: Government’s Role in Protecting Human Health and the Environment” was released in June 2019 as the first of four reports by Skip Pruss to make the economic case for government’s role in protecting the environment.

Click here for the executive summary.

Click here to read the full report.


The Value of Natural Systems and Government’s Role in Protecting Water

“Resetting Expectations: The Value of Natural Systems and Government’s Role in Protecting Water” was released in August 2019 as the second of four reports by Skip Pruss to make the economic case for government’s role in protecting the environment.

Click here for the executive summary.

Click here to read the full second report


The Multifaceted Benefits of Regulation for the Economy and Environment

“Resetting Expectations: The Multifaceted Benefits of Regulation for the Economy and Environment” was released in October 2019 as the third of four reports by Skip Pruss to make the economic case for government’s role in protecting the environment.

Click here for the executive summary.

Click here to read the full third report.


Accounting for Environmental, Health, and Climate Impacts in the Energy Sector

“Resetting Expectations: Accounting for Environmental, Health, and Climate Impacts in the Energy Sector” was released in December 2019 as the fourth of four reports by Skip Pruss to make the economic case for government’s role in protecting the environment.

Click here for the executive summary.

Click here to read the full fourth report.