• Adaptation to climate change in coastal communities: findings from seven sites on four continents

      Berman, Matthew; Kofinas, Gary (Climatic Change, 2019-10-26)
      Climate change is causing wide-ranging effects on ecosystem services critical to coastal communities and livelihoods, creating an urgent need to adapt. Most studies of climate change adaptation consist of narrative descriptions of individual cases or global synthesis, making it difficult to formulate and test locally rooted but generalizable hypotheses about adaptation processes. In contrast, researchers in this study analyzed key points in climate change adaptation derived from coordinated fieldwork in seven coastal communities around the world, including Arctic, temperate, and tropical areas on four continents. Study communities faced multiple challenges from sea level rise and warmer ocean temperatures, including coastal erosion, increasing salinity, and ecological changes. We analyzed how the communities adapted to climate effects and other co-occurring forces for change, focusing on most important changes to local livelihoods and societies, and barriers to and enablers of adaptation. Although many factors contributed to adaptation, communities with strong self-organized local institutions appeared better able to adapt without substantial loss of well-being than communities where these institutions were weak or absent. Key features of these institutions included setting and enforcing rules locally and communication across scales. Self-governing local institutions have been associated with sustainable management of natural resources. In our study communities, analogous institutions played a similar role to moderate adverse effects from climate-driven environmental change. The findings suggest that policies to strengthen, recognize, and accommodate local institutions could improve adaptation outcomes.
    • Adapting to Environmental and Social Change: Subsistence in Three Aleutian Communities

      Schmidt, Jennifer; Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-04-19)
      Our surroundings and society are both constantly evolving. Some changes are due to natural processes. People are responsible for other changes, because of what we do—for example, increasing the size of the population, expanding technology, and increasing mobility and connectivity. And some changes—like climate change—are due to a combination of natural processes and actions of people. In the Arctic, including the Aleutian Islands, marine and coastal ecosystems have seen the largest number of regime shifts with direct and indirect consequences for subsistence activities, commercial fisheries, and coastal communities (Council 2016). This paper describes current subsistence activities and changes local residents have observed over time in three Aleutian Island communities—Akutan, Nikolski, and Atka. As described more later, we did initial household surveys in 2016 and a second round in 2017, as well as more detailed interviews with some residents.
    • Alaska Felony Process: 1999

      Carns, Teresa White; Cohn, Larry; Mason Dosik, Susie; Berman, Matthew; Martin, Stephanie; McKelvie, Susan (Alaska Judicial Council, 2004)
      The Alaska Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Fairness and Access recommended that the state assess the relationships between defendants' ethnicities and their treatment by the criminal justice system. At the time of the request, the disproportionate numbers of ethnic minorities at all points in Alaska's criminal justice system were well-known. The main purpose of this work was to identify whether. those disproportions resulted from unjustifiable reasons and amounted to discrimination. Another purpose was to identify other unwarranted disparities, if they existed, based on the defendant's gender, the defendant's type of attorney, the location of the defendant's case, or other inappropriate characteristics. A third purpose was to update descriptive data about the criminal justice system. The Judicial Council collected and examined data from Alaska felony cases from 1999, beginning from the time formal charges were filed through case dispositions by way of dismissal, acquittal, or sentencing. At the time charges were initially filed, the Alaska felony defendants in these cases included disproportionally large numbers of young males, Alaska Natives, and Blacks. The report showed that, after charges were filed, justice for felony defendants in Alaska was, in many respects, substantially equal....In the area of non-presumptive sentencing, sentences were uniformly imposed among ethnic groups in all but Drug offenses. The disparity in this category was limited to Blacks in Anchorage and to Natives outside Anchorage. Matt Berman and Stephanie Martin at the UAA Institute for Social and Economic Research contributed the multivariate analyses used in this report.
    • Alaska Housing Markets In 1990: Report and Research Summary

      Berman, Matthew; Hill, Alexandra; Leask, Linda (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1990)
      At the beginning of the new decade, Alaska urban housing markets appear to have largely ended their four-year slide. Population and home sales are up. Residential vacancies and mortgage defaults are down. This report is one of a series prepared for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) on the economy and housing markets of urban areas of Alaska. It reviews the housing markets in Alaska's major urban centers and discusses the outlook for 1990 and 1991. The geographic areas covered include Anchorage, Fairbanks, and the Mat-Su Valley.
    • The Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline: What's It All About?

      Gorsuch, Lee; Tussing, Arlon R.; Persily, Larry; Larsen, Peter; Goldsmith, Scott; Foster, Mark; Fischer, Victor; Colt, Steve; Bradner, Tim; Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2005)
      Alaska has collected nearly $100 billion in oil revenues (adjusted to today’s dollars) since it became a state. Almost all those revenues have been from oil produced on the North Slope, where the largest known oil field in the U.S. was discovered in 1968. Construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline in the 1970s made development of that oil possible. The North Slope also has one of the largest accumulations of natural gas in the country—and for 30 years Alaskans have been hoping for construction of a second pipeline, to carry that gas to market. Gas pipelines have been proposed at times over the years. But none has been built, because investors did not think it was economic. Now, with higher natural gas prices and changes in the North American market, many people think a gas project may be possible. Alaska stands to gain a ot if a gas pipeline is built—a new long-term source of state revenues; more jobs and increased business activity; an increased local property tax base; and a potential new in-state source of natural gas for home heating, electricity, and industrial uses. With future supplies of natural gas from Cook Inlet uncertain, many Alaskans want one or more “spur” pipelines to be built from the main pipeline, to make natural gas available to Alaska communities. But access to the gas will come at a price, and not all Alaskans will benefit equally.
    • Alaska School District Cost Study (2005 Update)

      Hill, Alexandra; Berman, Matthew; Tuck, Bradford (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2005)
      The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee of the Alaska Legislature has asked The Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Alaska Anchorage to make certain changes and adjustments to the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) that the American Institutes for Research (AIR) constructed and reported on in Alaska School District Cost Study (January 2003). The requested changes address a number of the questions and criticisms that were raised by ISER in its review of the AIR study (A Review of Alaska School District Cost Study, January 29, 2004). The specific tasks included updating data sets, adjusting the index for actual energy costs, and reviewing travel and budget share assumptions. The most significant task was to address deficiencies in AIR’s certificated personnel compensation component that had been identified in ISER’s initial review. ISER was also asked to re- estimate the overall cost index, once other tasks were accomplished.
    • Alaska's Economy and Housing Market

      Goldsmith, Scott; Berman, Matthew; Huskey, Lee; Leask, Linda; Hull, Teresa (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 12/1/1986)
    • Alaska's New Petroleum Production Tax

      Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2006)
      The Alaska legislature enacted a major change to the state system of taxation for oil and gas on August 6, 2006, retroactive to April 1, 2006. The new tax, passed after several false starts in the third special session of the year, would replace a tax on gross wellhead production value of oil and a tax on gross wellhead value of gas with a single tax on net income earned at the wellhead. This article attempts to put the decision in context. It discusses some of the major issues related to oil taxes, summarizes the historical pattern of state petroleum revenues, and considers the consequences of the major features of the current tax proposals. We examine the new PPT in the context of these three big questions, comparing patterns and trends over time in Alaska and relative to other states and nations. There is no perfect tax mechanism, and each question involves a principal tradeoff.
    • Alaska's Potential Tax Revenues

      Leask, Linda; Berman, Matthew; Gorsuch, Lee; Goldsmith, Scott; Hull, Teresa (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1990)
      This paper analyzes potential revenues for Alaskan governments, and is a complement to the spending analysis in Fiscal Policy Paper #2. To estimate potential revenues, we need a standard against which to measure Alaska tax efforts. We use national average tax rates; we examine how much tax Alaska's state and local governments currently collect, and estimate how much different tax collections would be if tax rates were at national averages. We look separately at taxes paid by individuals and businesses and by resource industries.
    • Alcohol Control by Referendum in Northern Native Communities: The Alaska Local Option Law

      Berman, Matthew; Hull, Teresa (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2000)
      When Alaska became a state in 1959, state laws removed control of alcohol regulation from the federal government and Native communities. In 1981, however, the state legislature changed alcohol laws to give residents broad powers to regulate how alcohol comes into their communities via a local option referendum. By mid-1999, 112 small communities had held 197 alcohol control elections under the state law. Sixty-nine percent of these elections added new restrictions on alcohol, while 13% removed restrictions previously imposed. The remaining 18% of elections did not receive a majority vote needed to change the existing status. Most communities passing local option restrictions chose to ban sale and importation. Although most of these elections occurred during the first eight years after the law was passed, elections continue to occur as the law evolves and as communities debate the merits of alcohol control. Although growing evidence suggests that the local option law may reduce adverse effects of alcohol abuse in Alaska Native communities, its most important contributioncmay be to restore to these communities a limited form of self-government.
    • Alcohol Control Policies and American Indian Communities

      Berman, Matthew (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2001)
      Alcohol control policies such as taxation, restricting access by youth, or outright prohibition change the supply conditions for alcohol. That is, they aim to reduce the amount that becomes available for people to consume at whatever price level. Alternatively, they may be seem to raise the cost to consumers for obtaining any given quantity (figure l). The figure shows that a control policy such as a tax on alcohol would raise the cost to consumers and therefore reduce consumption....In the final analysis, alcohol control is only one of many opportunities to empower communities. But alcohol control can contribute to community empowerment. How one controls alcohol is likely to be as important, if not more important, than the type of policy implemented.
    • Alcohol Control Policy and Native American Communities

      Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1998)
      There is a long-standing debate over the degree to which control of alcohol supply is effective or makes sense as a policy direction for prevention of alcohol and drug abuse. The arguments on both sides of the control-of-supply debate are probably familiar to most alcohol researchers. However, it may be useful to review some empirical studies relevant to prevention policy for Native American populations. The remainder of the paper begins with a brief review of studies measuring effects of price and availability on alcohol consumption among North American and European populations. Then the review moves to focus on studies of alcohol control among Native Americans. Much of this research generally challenges the idea that alcohol prohibition is likely to be an effective prevention strategy for most Native American communities. The paper next proposes a more complete model of drinking behavior that may reconcile the conflicting findings of the prevention literature and help frame questions of alcohol policy. The more complete model motivates a set of testable hypotheses about the effectiveness of alcohol control among American Indians and Alaska Natives. The concluding section discusses the implications for research on alcohol policy for Native Americans.
    • Better Times in Alaska

      Hill, Alexandra; Leask, Linda; Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1990)
      The Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) has tracked the economic health of Anchorage households since 1987, when the recession that followed the oil price crash was at its worst. In our most recent survey we also questioned residents of Fairbanks and the Mat-Su Borough. This publication compares conditions in the three survey places in early 1990, and describes trends in Anchorage over the past three years. We asked Alaskans about their jobs, incomes, home equity, plans to move, and expectations for the coming year. We end with a snapshot glance of survey households in 1990. That brief discussion simply provides useful basic information on households in the three survey places at the start of the decade.
    • Changes in Alaska Pollock Management

      Smith, Terrence; Knapp, Gunnar; Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1993)
      Pollock are the most common groundfish off Alaska, with the 1991 harvest exceeding 2.2 billion pounds - or about 70 percent of the entire groundfish harvest. The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council recently recommended changing the start of the second half of the season from June 1 to August 15, when the fish are heavier and better quality. Before making its recommendations, the council asked iSER to examine potential economic effects of delaying the second half of the pollock season and of establishing exclusive registration in the offshore fisheries of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska. This summary provides a brief overview of the findings from interviews with fishermen and processors that were used to support an Alaskan economic model aimed at projecting effects of potential changes.
    • Changing Alaska's Oil and Gas Production Taxes: Issues and Consequences

      Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2006)
      The Alaska legislature is currently considering a major change to the state system of taxation for oil and gas. The proposed new tax system would replace a tax on gross wellhead production value of oil and a tax on gross wellhead value of gas with a single tax on net income earned at the wellhead. This article attempts to put the decision in context. It discusses some of the major issues related to oil taxes, summarizes the historical pattern of state petroleum revenues, and considers the consequences of the major features of the current tax proposals.
    • Chapter 6: Vegetation

      Berman, Matthew; DeVelice, Robert; Hollingsworth, Teresa Nettleton; Bella, Elizabeth; Carlson, Matthew L.; Clark, Paul; Barrett, Tara; Hayward, Gregory D.; Lundquist, John; Magness, Dawn Robin; et al. (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 2016)
      This assessment evaluates the effects of future climate change on a select set of ecological systems and ecosystem services in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and Chugach National Forest regions. The focus of the assessment was established during a multi-agency/organization workshop that established the goal to conduct a rigorous evaluation of a limited range of topics rather than produce a broad overview. The report explores the potential consequences of climate change for: (a) snowpack, glaciers, and winter recreation; (b) coastal landscapes and associated environments, (c) vegetation, (d) salmon, and (e) a select set of wildlife species. During the next half century, directional change associated with warming temperatures and increased precipitation will result in dramatic reductions in snow cover at low elevations, continued retreat of glaciers, substantial changes in the hydrologic regime for an estimated 8.5 percent of watersheds, and potentially an increase in the abundance of pink salmon. In contrast to some portions of the Earth, apparent sealevel rise is likely to be low for much of the assessment region owing to interactions between tectonic processes and sea conditions. Shrubs and forests are projected to continue moving to higher elevations, reducing the extent of alpine tundra and potentially further affecting snow levels. Opportunities for alternative forms of outdoor recreation and subsistence activities that include sled-dog mushing, hiking, hunting, and travel using across-snow vehicles will change as snowpack levels, frozen soils, and vegetation change over time. There was a projected 66-percent increase in the estimated value of human structures (e.g. homes, businesses) that are at risk to fire in the next half century on the Kenai Peninsula, and a potential expansion of invasive plants, particularly along roads, trails, and waterways.
    • Climate Change and Alaska's Forests: People, Problems, and Policies

      Burnside, Roger; Juday, Glenn; Berman, Matthew (Center for Global Change and Arctic System Research, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1999)
      Forests cover over one-third of the total land area of Alaska, and forests border the communities in which about 90 percent of Alaska’s residents make their homes. Climate change has begun to affect the growth and condition of these forests (Juday et al. 1998). Plausible amounts of additional climate change would likely change both the extent and the character of Alaska’s forests (Juday et al. 1998). Alaska residents and public officials would face significant challenges in coping with hypothesized global change effects in its forests. Forest managers face the dilemma of being required to implement often irreversible plans that influence or even produce future forests and yet they must do so amid many uncertainties (Pollard 1991a). Many Alaska forests regenerated today will be experiencing the climate of the year 2100 and well beyond. This paper discusses potential human effects of climate change on Alaska’s forests. It begins with a summary of the role of forests in Alaska’s economy, including both commercial and ecosystem values contributed by forests. Next, the paper discusses human dimensions of potential climate effects on forests, focusing on what one needs to know to be able to turn projections of changes in forest ecosys- tems into flows of impacts to the human environment. Then, it analyzes climate-driven change specifically hypothesized for Alaska forest ecosystems, emphasizing those effects that are likely to have a significant effect on the regional economy and society. The final section summarizes the most important short-term and long-term regional impacts that emerge from the review of climate effects, and discusses the role of institutions and public policy in reducing costs or increasing benefits of the changes. The paper concludes that hypothesized climate changes on Alaska forests are likely to impose significant short-term costs to the economy and population, and that strategies for mitigating these harmful effects should be considered.
    • Community Control of Alcohol in Alaska

      Hull, Teresa; Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1997)
      Many of Alaska’s Native communities want alcohol out of their towns. Alcohol plays a part in everything from domestic violence to high rates of accidental death in rural areas. About 100 communities—mostly small villages off the highway system—have restrictions on selling, importing, or possessing alcohol. A few larger rural regional centers—including Barrow, Bethel, and Kotzebue—also have controls on alcohol. Gulkana on the Richardson Highway recently became the first community on a major highway to ban alcohol under state law. Both municipalities and unincorporated places can control the availability of alcohol under Alaska’s local option law. This paper looks at the status of communities under that law and briefly reviews the history of community alcohol control under state and federal law.
    • Comparing Alaska's Oil Production Taxes: Incentives and Assumptions

      Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2014-08)
      In a recent analysis comparing the current oil production tax, More Alaska Production Act (MAPA, also known as SB 21) to the tax it replaced, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES), Scott Goldsmith, professor emeritus of economics at ISER, found that MAPA would produce higher revenues in the future, if changing to MAPA causes producers to make investments that lead to more production than would have occurred under ACES.2 Professor Goldsmith did not advocate for either tax, but projected effects of each under a range of different future oil prices, production rates, and costs. He noted that comparative revenues are highly sensitive to future costs and oil prices. Oil prices are notoriously difficult to forecast. Future North Slope oil production, as well as lease costs that can be deducted from producers’ tax liabilities under both ACES and MAPA, are also highly uncertain. Proponents of either MAPA or ACES appear to make assumptions about prices, production, and costs that support their arguments. Given the inherent uncertainty about oil prices, new production, and expenditures for capital and operating costs, what assumptions would be most reasonable to make for assessing outcomes of the tax regimes? This note critically examines the relevant assumptions for projecting tax outcomes, and explores how the different taxes compare under a set of assumptions that seem most reasonable, given our best current information. The comparisons address not only the amount of revenue the state would collect, but also how the taxes differently share risk between the industry and the state, and administrative issues affecting the nature of the relationship between the oil industry and state government. The analysis also places the debate about MAPA vs. ACES in the longer term context of Alaska oil production taxes, comparing MAPA and ACES to the original petroleum profits tax (PPT) that preceded ACES, and to the old severance tax PPT replaced.
    • Contribution of Land Conservation and Freshwater Resources to Residential Property Values in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough

      Berman, Matthew; Armagost, Jeffrey (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2013-02)
      Growing interest in quantifying values of ecosystem services has generated numerous studies attempting to measure the contribution of neighborhood environmental amenities to urban and suburban property values. Proximity to freshwater resources -- lakes and streams -- has also figured prominently in many of these studies. Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough, analogous to a county under state law, is a large and rapidly urbanizing local government jurisdiction adjacent to Anchorage, the state’s largest metropolitan area. As the population of the borough grows, and more land becomes subdivided and developed, an important question arises regarding the contribution of remaining undeveloped land and natural amenities to the economy of the borough. Visitors who are attracted to the scenery and recreation opportunities of the borough capture some of that value, and contribute to the borough economy through local purchases of goods and services. Private owners of borough real estate, who are willing to pay more for property located close to natural areas and recreation sites, also appropriate a portion of the value, however. This study focuses on this latter component of value of ecosystem services. It provides estimates of the enhanced value of private residential property and undeveloped land in the Mat-Su borough created by local protected open space and outdoor recreation opportunities. After briefly describing the Mat-Su Borough region, we summarize the valuation methods and the data available for the study. Then we present statistical results, followed by a discussion of the implications of the findings for valuing ecosystem services in the Borough. We conclude with suggestions for future research to improve the estimates.