4.6 The panel recommends BEA focus on developing supplemental accounts for the nation as a whole as a first priority. At the same time, BEA should preserve regional detail where it exists so that these data are available for analysts interested in developing accounts at the regional level.
The development of national estimates will require sampling, measurement, and valuation techniques that reflect the fact that the quality and value of natural-resource assets and associated flows vary geographically. While some assets and flows may not be important to the national economy, they could be far more important to regional and local economies.
4.7 The panel recommends that funds be provided to reinitiate and improve the design of the collection of data on pollution control and abatement expenditures.
4.8 As BEA further develops its natural-resource and environmental accounts, an important step is to incorporate near-market goods and services—those that have close counterparts in marketed goods and services. There is a clear basis here for measuring quantities and establishing values in a manner comparable to that used for the core accounts.
4.9 Construction of a set of forest accounts is a natural step in developing integrated economic-environmental accounts. The United States has much of the data needed for such an effort, and the analytical techniques are relatively well developed.
4.10 Based on available information, the economic impacts of air quality are likely to be the most significant element in the environmental accounts; development of such accounts is a central task for environmental accounting. At the same time, because of the unresolved conceptual issues and the need for appropriate physical measures, the development of stock and flow accounts for air quality and other important public goods poses awesome difficulties. This task far transcends the scope, budget, and expertise of BEA. A major goal for the near term is to continue basic research on the underlying science and economics in this area.