Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Drivers of Deconstruction: An Analysis of Dam Removal in the United States Public Deposited

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  • The goal of this thesis is to identify the factors which have most significantly contributed to historical dam removals in the United States. The trend of increased dam removals over time is specifically analyzed for evidence that increased scarcity of environmental goods and services is motivating dam removals. A theoretical model is presented to explain how dam removal is consistent with maximization of social welfare and to hypothesize the direction of the effects for variables which are believed to contribute to changes in the relative price of environmental goods. The empirical estimation is conducted using a time series dataset of characteristics of dams both removed and not removed between 1969 and 2016. The dataset is an aggregation of the American River’s Dam Removal Database and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Inventory of Dams, with additional explanatory variables added using geospatial identifiers. Using a logit regression, the effect of explanatory variables are estimated to identify which factors have most motivated past dam removals. The results of this analysis provide evidence that dam-specific characteristics and federal regulations are most significantly influencing dam removal decisions. Evidence that increases in the relative value of environmental goods and services have contributed to dam removals was inconclusive. Overall, this analysis suggests that removals are decided on an individual basis depending on the specific attributes of the dam under consideration.
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