CELS Student Aims to Use Economics to Help Protect the Environment
Guided by his love for the natural world and biking, Andy Boslett, an Environmental and Natural Resource Economics Ph.D. student, dedicates his life to solving environmental problems. After earning a bachelor’s degree in math and economics from Ithaca College, he started working towards his Ph.D. at the University of Rhode Island in 2012.
Boslett’s research at URI is focused on the economic impact of fracking, the process of creating small fractures in deep rocks to extract oil as an energy source. He hopes to engage in the global debate about whether this type of development should allowed by examining the social, environmental and economic impacts of shale extraction.
“I use markets to tell a story of what is happening on the individual level,” said Boslett.
In collaboration with Professors Todd Guilfoos and Corey Lang, Boslett uses the housing market along the New York and Pennsylvania border to understand how housing prices captured home owner expectations of financial benefits and environmental costs of shale gas development. This work was done in the context of a policy implemented in New York that prevented shale gas development, post-2008.
“The quality of thought is very high here at URI,” said Boslett. “It is a blessing to be challenged everyday, making this experience worth it.”
Last summer, Boslett had an opportunity to intern for the United States Department of Agriculture on the Economic Research Service to study water competition between shale development and agriculture usage. Both activities require a lot of water, so his research looked at how fracking water demands compete with agriculture usage. The study showed that some agricultural farms had to change crops due to water scarcity.
“Economics can be used to make regulation and policy more effective and efficient” said Boslett. “Economics makes an argument stronger by quantifying the impacts of an action.”
Boslett’s future research goals include understanding how residential property owners respond to solar energy incentives. He also plans to explore the issues around mineral rights, the right of property owners to mine or produce minerals below the surface of their land.
Boslett hopes his career path will lead him to a position at a consulting firm or research organization when he obtains his degree. He wants to have an impact on how policy makers address environmental issues, and in doing so, become a part of the solution to environmental issues.