Economic Research

Decision making about appropriate regulations for oil and gas development are often cast as the economy versus public health and environmental well-being. This dichotomy ignores the fact that public health and environmental health have non-market economic values to people. Quantifying the economic values of public health, air quality, and water quality can provide a more balanced discussion of oil and gas regulation. The economic effects of unconventional oil gas development must be assessed by jointly evaluating the market (employment, output, personal income, tax revenue) and non‐market (air quality, water quality, public health, habitat fragmentation, greenhouse gases, groundwater for drinking). Market benefits and non-market health and environmental costs can be expressed in comparable dollar terms that provide a meaningful comparison.


The objective of this task is to synthesize what is known about the market economic benefits of oil and gas development and the non-market economic costs to public health and the environment from oil and gas development. Integrating economic data with the AWG network’s physical science data will create a “many‐objective” approach to planning and management that demonstrates the importance of considering the trade‐offs between public health, environmental, economic, and social effects of oil and gas development.

Above: data from a forthcoming publication quantifies the non-market costs and benefits of oil and gas extraction. 

Role in overall AWGSRN projects

  • Provide a summary of the existing estimates (from peer reviewed economic literature) of economic benefits and costs of oil and gas extraction to provide relevant information for decision makers that can be used in the overall project’s policy and outreach efforts.
  • Integrate our results with other AWG researchers work, such as a decision support system that provides a systematic and transparent framework for investigating the trade-offs of different types and stringency of regulations
  • Provide estimates of monetary values to quantified environmental impacts identified by AWG researchers