Overview of the Integrated Environmental and Economic Satellite Accounts

Work on the IEESA began in earnest in 1992 and was accelerated when President Clinton emphasized its importance in his Earth Day speech in 1993. The essential framework for the IEESA, along with a proposed framework for future study, was set forth in two articles in 1994 (see Bureau of Economic Analysis, 1994a, 1994b). As envisioned by BEA at that time, the work plan would have three phases:

  • Phase I, Overall Framework and Prototype Estimates for Subsoil Assets—The first phase involved establishing the overall framework and process for developing prototype satellite accounts for subsoil assets such as oil, gas, and nonfuel minerals. The focus was ''on proved reserves, the basis for valuation is market values, and the treatment given mineral resources—which require expenditures to prove and which provide 'services' over a long timespan—is similar to the treatment of fixed capital in the existing accounts" (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 1994a:48-49). The Phase I report of these two articles presented a preliminary view of the framework of U.S. environmental accounts, along with numerical estimates of the values of additions, depletion, and stocks for major subsoil mineral resources.
  • Phase II, Renewable Natural Resources—The second phase "calls for work to extend the accounts to renewable natural resource assets, such as trees on timberland, fish stocks, and water resources" (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 1994a:49).
  • Phase III, Environmental Assets—The third phase "calls for moving on to issues associated with a broader range of environmental assets, including the economic value of the degradation of clear air and water or the value of recreational assets such as lakes and national forests" (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 1994a:49).

Since publishing its first report in 1994 in the two above-mentioned articles, BEA has ceased further work on environmental accounting in response to the congressional stop-work order.

Summary and Conclusions

The last quarter-century has seen an increasing awareness of the interactions between human societies and the natural environment in which they thrive and upon which they depend. This awareness has been dramatically heightened by concerns about resource scarcity, environmental degradation, global environmental issues, and the possibility that the



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