Kurt Stephenson's research interests include market-based environmental policies, water resource economics and policy, and the role of economic analysis in public policy. His current work focuses on environmental trading programs (water quality trading, carbon offset and credit programs, wetland mitigation, etc), evaluation of agricultural nonpoint source policies, and the design of payment for environmental service programs. To learn more about Professor Stephenson's work, click on the information below.
- Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
Ph.D., Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, August 1994.
M.S., Agricultural Economics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, July 1988.
B.S., Economics, Radford University, June 1986.
My extension/outreach is directed largely at supporting public policy decision-making in the area of water resources. I have served on numerous water quality policy and regulatory advisory committees at the state, regional and federal levels.
- Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee authorized under Virginia §62.1-256.2, 2020-present
- Academic Advisory Committee, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, 2004-present.
- Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, Chesapeake Bay Program, 2013-2021
- Committee to Review EPA's Economic Analysis of Final Water Quality Standards for Nutrients for Lakes and Flowing Waters in Florida, National Research Council. National Academies Press: Washington DC, 2012.
- Committee on Improving Principles and Guidelines for Federal Water Resources Project Planning; National Research Council, National Research Council. National Academies Press: Washington DC, 2010.
- Committee on Reducing Stormwater Discharge Contributions to Water Pollution, Urban Stormwater Management in the United States. National Research Council. National Academies Press: Washington DC, 2008.
Selected Outreach Publications/Reports
Stephenson, K., C. Hershner, B. Benham, Z. Easton, J. Hanson, S. Julius, and E. Hinrichs. 2018. “Consideration of BMP Performance Uncertainty in Chesapeake Bay Program Implementation.” STAC Publication Number 18-003, Edgewater, MD. 33 pp.
Bott, C., M. Brush, E. Canuel, M. Johnston, P. Kangas, S. Lane, P. May, W. Mulbry, M. Mulholland, D. Sample, K. Sellner, and K. Stephenson. 2015. “Nutrient and Sediment Reductions from Algal Flow-way Technologies: Recommendations to the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Water Quality Goal Implementation Team from the Algal Flow-way Technologies BMP Expert Panel” October 21, 2015. Chesapeake Bay Program, Annapolis MD.
Stephenson, K. D. Parker, C. Abdalla, L. Shabman, J. Shortle, C. Jones, B. Angstadt, R. Rose, D. King, D. Hansen. 2009. Evaluation Framework for Water Quality Trading Programs in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. 33pp. Report to the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, Chesapeake Bay Program, Annapolis, MD
Current Research Focus
- Pay for performance incentives for agricultural nonpoint source programs.
- Incentives to address legacy nutrient sources.
- Evaluation of cost-effectiveness of nonpoint source programs
- Evaluation of carbon sequestration offset practices and policies.
- AAEC 1005 Economics of the Food and Fiber System
- AAEC 4314 Environmental Economic Analysis and Management
- AAEC 5144 Resource and Environmental Economics
- Professor, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech. June 2008 - Present.
- Associate Professor, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech. June 2001 - 2008.
- Assistant Professor, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech. November 1995 - June 2001.
- Senior Research Associate, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech. October 1994 - October 1995.
- Research Associate, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, 1989-1990.
- Research Associate, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Kentucky, 1988-1989.
2005 Certificate of Teaching Excellence, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Tech
Best Theory-Oriented Paper for 2000, Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management. Leonard Shabman and Kurt Stephenson “Environmental Valuation and Its Economic Critics.” Selected by Environmental & Water Resources Institute Planning and Management Council, American Society of Civil Engineers.
Selected recent publications
- Stephenson, K., L. Shabman, J. Shortle, and Z. Easton. 2022. Confronting our Agricultural Nonpoint Source Incentive Problem. J. of the American Water Resource Association.
- Fleming, P.M., K. Stephenson, A.S. Collick, and Z.M. Easton. 2022. Targeting for nonpoint source pollution reduction: A synthesis of lessons learned, remaining challenges, and emerging opportunities, J. of Environmental Management 308: 114649
- Stephenson, K. W. Farris, E. Bock, Z. Easton. 2021. Treatment of Legacy Nitrogen as a Compliance Option to Meet Chesapeake Bay TMDL Requirements Environmental Science and Technology 55 (20): 13593–13601. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c04022
- Easton, Z., E. Bock, K. Stephenson. 2019. Feasibility of Using Woodchip Bioreactors to Treat Legacy Nitrogen to Meet Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Goals. Environmental Science and Technology, 53 (21): 12291-12299.
- Stephenson, K. and L. Shabman. 2019. "Does Ecosystem Valuation Contribute to Ecosystem Decision-making?: Evidence from Hydropower Licensing" Ecological Economics. 163: 1-8 (senior authorship shared equally)
- Stephenson, K. and B. Tutko. 2018. “The Role of In lieu Fee Programs in Wetland/Stream Mitigation Credit Trading: Illustrations from Virginia and Georgia" Wetlands DOI: 10.1007/s13157-018-1057-y
- Stephenson, K. and L. Shabman. 2017. “Where Did all the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Trades Go?: Lessons from Virginia Nutrient Trading Programs.” Journal of the American Water Resources Association 53 (5):1178-1194.
- Kurt Stephenson and Leonard Shabman. 2017. “Can Water Quality Trading Fix the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Problem?” Volume 9, forthcoming, Annual Review of Resource Economics.
- Gwen DeBoe, Emily Bock, Kurt Stephenson, and Zachary Easton. 2017. “Nutrient Biofilters in the Virginia Coastal Plain: Nitrogen Removal, Cost, and Potential Adoption Pathways” Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 72 (2): 139-149
- Kurt Stephenson and Leonard Shabman. 2017. “Nutrient Assimilation Services for Water Quality Credit Trading Programs: A Comparative Analysis with Nonpoint Source Credits” Coastal Management. 45(1): 24-43.
- Gonzalez G., Mosley, A, and Stephenson, K. December 2016. An Analysis of Stormwater Utility Incentive Programs in the Chesapeake Bay. Watershed Science Bulletin. Center for Watershed Protection, Ellicott City, MD.
- Gwen DeBoe and Kurt Stephenson. 2016. “Transactions Costs of Expanding Nutrient Trading to Agricultural Working Lands: A Virginia Case Study” Ecological Economics 130 (Oct):176-185
- Rose, J., S. Becker, S. Deonarine, J. Ferreira, T. Getchis, J. Grant, J. Kim, J. Krumholz, G. Kraemer, K. Stephenson, G. Wikfors, and C. Yarish. 2015. “Nutrient Bioextraction”. In Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology Springer, New York.
- Jessica Boatwright, K. Stephenson, K Boyle, S. Nienow. “Subdivision Infrastructure Affecting Stormwater Runoff and Residential Property Values” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management. April 2014.
- Colleen Higgins, C. B., C.Tobias, M. F. Piehler, A. R Smyth, R. F. Dame, K. Stephenson, Bonnie L. Brown. 2013 “Effect of Aquacultured Oyster Biodeposition on Sediment N2 Production in the Chesapeake Bay, Marine Ecology Progress Series. 473 (January 2013): 7-27
- Colleen B. Higgins, Kurt Stephenson, Bonnie L. Brown. 2011. Nutrient bio-assimilative Capacity of Aquacultured Oysters: Quantification of an Ecosystem Service. Journal of Environmental Quality 40: 271-77
- Kurt Stephenson and Leonard Shabman. 2011 “Rhetoric and Reality of Water Quality Trading and the Potential for Market-like Reform.” Journal of American Water Resources Association. 47 (February) 1: 15-28.
- Kurt Stephenson and Leonard Shabman. 2011. “Executing CADRe: Integration of Models with Negotiation Processes” in Converging Waters: Integrating Collaborative Modeling with Participatory Processes to Make Water Resources Decisions, pp. 23-34. ed. Lisa Bourget, Maass-White Book Series, US. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC.
- Kurt Stephenson, Stephen Aultman, Todd Metcalfe, and Alex Miller. 2010. “An Evaluation of Nutrient Nonpoint Offset Trading in Virginia: A Role for Agricultural Nonpoint Sources?” 46 Water Resources Research.