Research & Teaching Interests

Water Markets and Political Economy in Chile, the Free-Market Model
What does it mean to treat water as a commodity and to manage water resources through markets?  These have been highly conflictive issues in the U.S. and internationally for the last few decades.  The case of Chile has been a leading example of the free-market approach to water law and policy, and has often been praised as a model of success by the World Bank and related organizations.  I have studied the Chilean water rights system since 1990, having lived in Chile for about six years, and I have sought to draw out the international lessons of the Chilean experience, both positive and negative.  In particular I have tried to show that water markets are not simply economic mechanisms but instead are intimately connected to broader legal, institutional, and political frameworks for making decisions, allocating resources, and resolving conflicts.  Hence the study of markets should not be left to economists.
Selected Publications (see also CV)
Comparative and International Water Law and Policy
How have people in different parts of the world grappled with problems of growing water scarcity and conflict?  Many countries have debated and attempted water law and policy reforms, taking different approaches to economic, social, and environmental concerns.  My work in Chile has underlined Chile’s significance for international water policy debates (see previous section).  I have also compared the Western U.S. to Spain (in Spanish publications).
See also both of my books and Current Work.
Selected Publications (see also CV)
Hydropower as Water/Energy Nexus
How do water and electricity systems and policies affect each other?  In all countries the water and electricity sectors have separate histories and infrastructures, which interact in complicated ways.  These interactions, sometimes called the “water/energy nexus,” have become more critical in today’s context of climate change, and harder to govern in the global context of markets and privatization.  One key example of the water/energy nexus is hydroelectric power generation, since dams play a dual role in managing river systems and supplying power grids.  I have studied hydropower in the Pacific Northwest (beginning with my M.S. thesis in the 1980s), in Argentina (as a Fulbright scholar and visiting professor in 2003), through nearly all of my work in Chile since 1991, and currently in California.
The importance of hydropower’s dual roles is changing both nationally and internationally, driven by changes in water and energy policies, climate policies, and growing environmental concerns.  Some of my current research examines these issues in California, through a combination of historical and current policy analysis.
See also both of my books and Current Work.
Selected Publications (see also CV)
Property and Environment, Law and Geography
Beyond my obsessions with water and electricity, I am interested in the broader fields of property, law and economics, political economy, and institutional economics, particularly as they relate to nature and environment.  I have tried to bridge the fields of law and geography with colleagues in both fields, e.g. by organizing sessions at conferences of the Law and Society Association and the American Association of Geographers.
See also Current Work.
Selected Publications