Letter: Brewery air pollution not part of the local economic equation

To the Editor:

The front page article in your January issue, “Larimer County Breweries Generate Lots of Jobs, But at a Cost,” correctly says that environmental costs should be factored into calculations of the overall impact of business enterprises such as breweries. However, it incorrectly criticizes Prof. Martin Shields for failing to do so in his report on their regional economic impact.

Prof. Shields is a regional economist, which means that he studies how the Northern Colorado economy is affected by government policies, business activity and other factors. His report on the breweries shows the impact of these businesses on employment, production and payrolls in Larimer County. That is the purpose of reports like these, which are useful to government officials and business leaders.

The report does not take the air pollution created by these businesses into account for the simple reason that this pollution does not affect local economic activity. It may affect the larger environment or the health and well-being of the people who breathe the air around these breweries, but that is not the subject of Prof. Shields’ report. Your reporter would have known that had he asked Prof. Shields for a comment, but he failed to do so.

Prof. Shields, I and the other members of the CSU economics faculty do our best to provide economic analysis that benefits the larger community. Speaking as a resident of Bellvue for almost 30 years, I expect our local paper to make more of an effort to get it right before criticizing people who are only trying to promote the common good.

Steven Shulman
Professor and Chair
Department of Economics
Colorado State University

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