Commerce Department to suspend further work in this area and to obtain an external review of environmental accounting. A panel working under the aegis of the National Research Council's Committee on National Statistics was charged to ''examine the objectivity, methodology, and application of integrated environmental and economic accounting in the context of broadening the national accounts" and to review "the proposed revisions ... to broaden the national accounts." This report presents the panel's findings and recommendations.
BEA developed the IEESA because of the growing importance of environmental accounting both in the United States and abroad. Better natural-resource and environmental accounts have many benefits. They provide valuable information on the interaction between the environment and the economy; help in determining whether the nation is using its stocks of natural resources and environmental assets in a sustainable manner; and provide information on the implications of different regulations, taxes, and consumption patterns.
More generally, augmented NIPA that encompass market and nonmarket environmental assets and production activities would be an important component of the U.S. statistical system, providing useful data on resource trends. The rationale for augmented accounts is solidly grounded in mainstream economic analysis. BEA's activities in developing the environmental accounts are consistent with an extensive domestic and international effort both to improve and to extend the NIPA.
The panel concludes that extending the U.S. national income and product accounts (NIPA) to include assets and production activities associated with natural resources and the environment is an important goal. Environmental and natural-resource accounts would provide useful data on resource trends and help governments, businesses, and individuals better plan their economic activities and investments. The rationale for augmented accounts is solidly grounded in mainstream economic analysis. BEA's activities in developing environmental accounts (IEESA) are consistent with an extensive domestic and international ef-
Paragraphs in boldface in this executive summary reflect recommendations in the main report. The numbers after each paragraph refer to the corresponding recommendations in the chapters that follow; for example, Recommendation 5.1 is the first recommendation in Chapter 5.