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New and forthcoming publications of ESRG Affiliate Chris Jeffords

BY Alyssa Webb

Chris Jeffords

Published on January, 19 2013 at 12:00am

Jeffords, Chris, “Constitutional Environmental Human Rights: A Descriptive Analysis of 142 National Constitutions,” in The State of Economic and Social Human Rights: A Global Overview, Cambridge University Press, edited by Lanse Minkler, January, 2013.

Abstract: This paper provides a detailed keyword analysis of the 142 out of 198 national constitutions that include at least one reference to the environment as of 2010. Out of these 142 constitutions, 125 contain provisions that are explicitly related to environmental human rights, and ten include a direct human right to water. Focusing mostly on the language of the provisions, the analysis provides insight into the extent to which countries are taking environmental human rights seriously. The data is used to create a simple additive index of the legal strength of constitutional environmental human rights provisions based on seven keyword categories endemic to definitions of environmental human rights.

2) Jeffords, Chris, “Preference-Directed Regulation When Ethical Environmental Policy Choices Are Formed With Limited Information,” forthcoming in Empirical Economics.

Abstract: Preference-directed regulation can supplement traditional environmental policies through frequent regulatory revision (Livermore, Virginia Environmental Law Journal 25:311-386, 2007). Using original survey data, preference-directed regulation is operationalized via counterfactual simulations within a limited information discrete choice model.  Augmenting individual opinions about of one of three policies at driving environmental outcomes, stakeholders can induce preference switching in favor of or in detriment to a specific policy.  The three policies are summarized as: (1) ban; (2) tax; and (3) label.  The resulting substitution patterns demonstrate that the extent of preference switching between policies depends on the relative change in individual opinions about a policy. Furthermore, different forms of preference-directed regulation may be more effective at inducing preference switching in favor of or in detriment to a specific policy.  These substitution patterns are further explained by showing that the limited information choice model mitigates the Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives property at the respondent level.

3) Jeffords, Chris, and Farhed Shah, “On the Natural and Economic Difficulties to Fulfilling the Human Right to Water Within a Neoclassical Economics Framework,” forthcoming in Review of Social Economy.

Abstract: We present a neoclassical economic model of the human right to water using a nonrenewable resource model inclusive of a backstop technology.  The right is interpreted as a minimum consumption requirement the government is obligated to fulfill in the event that any one household cannot do so independently.  Differing by income levels, households maximize utility by purchasing a composite consumption good and water from two distinct, government-owned sources.  Facing physical and financial constraints, the government uses fiscal policy to address potential human rights violations.  Reducing the analysis to two-periods, we develop a novel approach to compare total welfare levels from a joint human rights and neoclassical economics perspective.  We define a human rights welfare standard and discuss cases where traditional social welfare measures would exceed, violate, or meet this standard.  We thus offer a unique way to merge economic analysis with human rights research.

4) Jeffords, Chris, “Constitutional Environmental Human Rights in India: Negating a Negating Statement,”Inclusive: A Journal of Kolkata Centre for Contemporary Studies, December, 2012. Available at

Abstract:  Based on the December 2011 version of the Constitution of India, this article examines 3 potential ways to “interpret” the legal strength of a broadly defined national constitutional environmental human right. Using text from Articles 43, 47, 48A, and 51A, and paying special attention to the negating statement preceding these articles, the 3 ways are summarized as follows: (1) having or not a constitutional environmental human right; (2) interpreting the constitutional environmental human right as enforceable law or directive principles; and (3) linking the language of the constitutional environmental human right to the underlying definition of an environmental human right.  The article notes that although India’s constitution contains a constitutional environmental human right that is best described as a directive principle, its language does not correspond highly with that of current definitions of environmental human rights.  Furthermore, its legal strength is severely limited by the presence of the negating statement which, at the very least, would need to be repealed or negated to give life to constitutional environmental human rights in India.

5) Jeffords, Chris, “The Constitutional Environmental Human Right to Water: An Economic Model of the Potential Negative Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Quantity and Quality in Pennsylvania,” working paper, January 2013.  Available upon request or soon to be available through the ESRG working paper series on RePEc.

Abstract: The process of hydraulic fracturing (HF) for natural gas leads to two potential negative externalities: (1) a reduction in the quantity of existing drinking water, and (2) a reduction in the quality of existing drinking water. These two externalities can further conspire to lead to a broader problem: an inability to fulfill the human right to (clean or pure) water. Although the United States (US) Constitution does not grant individuals a human right to clean water, the Constitution of Pennsylvania does within Section 27. While US reliance on natural gas and the prevalence of HF as a method for procuring natural gas both increase, the two externalities may lead to actual human rights violations, especially in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. This paper develops an economic model of the two externalities to: (1) demonstrate how violations of both the quantity and quality of available drinking water can occur; and (2) offer a fiscal policy to address the violations (i.e., a Pigovian Tax) , where a single tax on natural gas production is capable of addressing both externalities. In keeping with the current case law interpretation of Section 27 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, a due standard of care negligence rule within a unilateral-care accident model is developed and compared to the Pigovian Tax. Depending on the nature of the market demand and supply curves for natural gas, the results indicate that the incidence of the Pigovian Tax is not fully carried by the producers while the due standard of care rule is imposed entirely on the producers (i.e., injurers). In either case, the number of producers is an important consideration for fulfillment of the human right to water.