Research is at the heart of PERC's work. PERC scholars explore why individuals act the way they do and then apply that understanding to environmental issues. This philosophy leads associates to investigate fundamental questions such as: What is the link between economic growth and environmental quality?

Original research by PERC associates advances new policies and approaches for applying free market environmentalism to a wide variety of natural resource issues. The majority of PERC's research can be found on this website and a sample of research topics are listed below.

Free Market Environmentalism Cover

Free Market Environmentalism
PERC is where the concept of free market environmentalism originated and where research has provided the evidence underpinning the prospects of improving environmental quality through property rights and markets.

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Native Americans and Tribal Lands
For more than twenty years, American Indian economies have been an important research area for PERC. Analysis of the formal institutional framework of reservations reveals some unsettling conclusions regarding whether U.S. government policies are helping or hurting Native American economic development.

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Two Transmission Towers

There are many claims about the promise of green energy and the perils of fossil fuels. PERC’s research focuses less on the intentions of energy policies and more on the results. Does green energy provide an efficient solution to expanding energy supplies?

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Fishing in a storm

For the past twenty years PERC has been at the forefront of research to expand the use of property rights in both commercial and recreational fisheries. This bottom-up approach is working in both developing countries with weak governance structures in place, and in transnational fisheries such as tuna, while educating policy makers and journalists on the benefits of rights-based reform.

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Sunrise through trees

Forestry is an important component of PERC’s research portfolio. While private land managers tend to the forest to ensure future value – whether in timber, wildlife diversity, or scenic beauty – public land mangers are tied up in process and planning. The difference starts and ends with property rights.

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Fire Valley

Parks & Public Lands
Federal land agencies lose millions of dollars in public resources every year. Why are these agencies in the red with an estate that encompasses a wealth of forests, grazing lands, minerals, wildlife, and recreational amenities? With the right incentives, such agencies could be a source of wealth to all Americans.

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Senate in session

Public Policy
It is difficult to discuss any environmental issue without also considering the regulatory structure surrounding it. Whether through Bruce Yandle expounding on his “Bootleggers and Baptists” model, or Randy Simmons incorporating free market environmentalism into policy analysis, PERC is at the forefront of environmental policy.

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Multi-billion dollar recycling programs are generally presumed to be wise environmental investments.  PERC scholars, such as Dan Benjamin, remind us that before we rush into costly policies presumed to be saving the environment, sound science and analysis of the facts are necessary to determine whether those investments are achieving the intended environmental outcome.

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Fly fish Montana

Water is a crucial resource, and in many areas it has been removed from the marketplace to the public’s detriment. Water markets have been a part of Terry Anderson's research for many years, and have developed into one of PERC’s more active applied programs.

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Whether saving African rhinos through markets or considering the many implications of the Endangered Species Act, PERC scholars are passionate about enhancing the value of various species. Our research not only looks at the potential problems surrounding policies that claim to protect species, but also offers market-based solutions on improving species’ livelihood.

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