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U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Valuation for Environmental Policy

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Sorting Code Number: 2004-STAR-Q1
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.509

Solicitation Opening Date: June 24, 2004
Solicitation Closing Date: September 28, 2004
Application receipt deadline date: September 28, 2004, 4:00 p.m. E.S.T.

Contact Person(s):
Technical contact: Will Wheeler; Phone: 202-566-2264; email: wheeler.william@epa.gov
Eligibility contact: Thomas Barnwell; Phone: 202-343-9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
- Synopsis of Program
- Award Information
- Eligibility Information
- Contact Person(s)
FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
- Introduction
- Background
- Specific Areas of Interest
- References
- Authority and Regulations
AWARD INFORMATION
ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
- Eligible applicants
- Cost sharing
APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
- Address to Request Application Package
- Content and Form of Application Submission
- Special Requirements
- Supplemental Instructions
- Sorting Code
- Submission Dates and Times
- Intergovernmental Review
- Funding Restrictions
- Other Submission Requirements
APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
- Criteria
- Review and Selection Process
AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
- Award Notices
- Administrative and National Policy Requirements
- Reporting
AGENCY CONTACT(s)

Access Standard STAR Forms and Instructions
View NCER Research Capsules
View research awarded under previous solicitations

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD) as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications proposing research in three areas: studies developing values, functions, and models for estimating the economic value of policy-relevant changes to ecological benefits associated with aquatic resources; studies developing or improving benefit transfer methods for ecological resources; and studies improving primary economic valuation methods.

This is the initial announcement for this year’s program. Although not anticipated, should modifications of this announcement be necessary, they will be posted.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 1-3 awards
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $1-2 million total costs
Cost Sharing: None Required.
Potential Funding per Grant: Up to $400,000/year with a duration of 2 years or 3 years and no more than a total of $1,000,000 in EPA funding, including direct and indirect costs. Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Eligibility Information:
Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments, are eligible to apply. See full announcement for more details.

Contact Person(s):
Technical contact: Will Wheeler; Phone: 202-566-2264; email: wheeler.william@epa.gov
Eligibility contact: Thomas Barnwell; Phone: 202-343-9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

Introduction

Public decisions on environmental protection often depend on sound benefit-cost analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, natural resource damage assessments, or related economic assessments. The need for such analyses is growing and stems from a number of mandates, including several statutes and executive orders. This need applies to agencies at all levels of government and to some private parties as well. EPA is interested in economic valuation research that will enhance the ability of public and private stakeholders to evaluate policies and actions to protect, restore, or improve ecological resources. EPA is currently supporting a number of valuation-related grants and has been doing so for some time. Information regarding current and completed research can be found on ORD’s National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) homepage at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/.

Background

Improved valuation of ecological benefits has been a longstanding need for better policy decisions and several EPA activities have highlighted this need. EPA’s draft Ecological Benefits Assessment Strategic Plan (U.S. EPA 2003b) discusses EPA’s activities in this area over time. (EPA is in the process of drafting this Plan and the public draft version does not contain research priorities.) Improved ecological valuation is identified as a priority research area in EPA’s Environmental Economics Research Strategy (U.S. EPA 2003a). This Strategy identifies two directions for the valuation of ecological benefits: valuation of indicators or indices and benefit transfer. EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) also recently established a new Committee on Valuing the Protection of Ecological Systems and Services specifically to provide advice to strengthen approaches for assessing the benefits of environmental programs that protect ecological systems and services (http://www.epa.gov/sab/panels/vpesspanel.html).

Numerous other agencies have attempted to strengthen the assessment of ecological benefits in their activities. The National Academy of Sciences is undertaking a project “Assessing and Valuing the Services of Aquatic Ecosystems” to evaluate methods for assessing services and the associated economic values of aquatic and related terrestrial ecosystems (http://www4.nas.edu/cp.nsf/Projects%20_by%20_PIN/WSTB-U-00-02-A?OpenDocument)exit EPA. This project is sponsored by U.S. EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Services and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, and the Department of Army. The draft Ecological Benefits Assessment Strategic Plan (U.S. EPA 2003b) also notes several activities by these and other agencies.

From 1995-2002, EPA co-sponsored a research competition with the National Science Foundation (initially called Valuation for Environmental Policy) titled Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (DMVEP). From 2000-2002, EPA also funded a related competition to support research on valuing reduced risks to children’s health. In 2003, EPA merged these into one solicitation on Valuation for Environmental Policy. Information on these previous competitions may be found on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/archive/grants/ and descriptions of projects funded under these solicitations can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/grants/recipients_index.html.

The 2003 Valuation for Environmental Policy solicitation had two parts: human health valuation and ecological valuation. This year’s solicitation focuses solely on ecological valuation; EPA plans to return to human health valuation in the next Valuation for Environmental Policy solicitation.

Specific Areas of Interest

To address needs for ecological valuation, the Agency is soliciting research in three areas: (1) studies developing values, functions, and models for estimating the economic value of policy-relevant changes to ecological benefits associated with aquatic resources (Improved Valuation of Ecological Benefits of Aquatic Resources), (2) studies developing or improving benefit transfer methods for ecological resources (Benefit Transfer), and (3) studies improving primary economic valuation methods (Methodological Improvements). Proposals that address one or more areas are encouraged (see Supplemental Instructions for additional information on submitting such a proposal). These three areas are listed in decreasing emphasis of funding priority.

Improved Valuation of Ecological Benefits of Aquatic Resources

The economic literature on the valuation of ecological benefits is growing, but there remain a large number of ecological benefits for which value estimates are not available. This solicitation focuses on valuing ecological benefits associated with aquatic resources. Aquatic resources include the Great Lakes, coasts, estuaries, lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and watersheds. EPA is most interested in studies that will provide empirical results suitable for application and transfer to a variety of situations.

There are a number of ways to define the benefits provided by an ecosystem (e.g., Daily et al. 1997, Limburg and Folke 1999 and accompanying papers, de Groot et al. 2002) but for this solicitation, an ecological benefit is any ecosystem good, service, condition, or function that contributes to human well-being. (Ecological benefits can include characteristics and attributes of ecosystems.) This RFA focuses on those ecological benefits upon which humans can place an economic (monetary) value and which are affected by stressors (e.g., point and nonpoint discharges, air deposition, solid waste, pesticides, global change, invasive species, etc.) that are policy-relevant. That is, the stressors should have direct or indirect effects on the production of ecological benefits, such that policy makers can choose different actions to protect, restore, or improve the ecosystems and associated ecological benefits. Funding priority will be given to proposals that respond to the following:

  • Proposals that estimate theoretically-consistent economic values, functions, and models that are widely applicable and transferable. Applicability means that the study encompasses a large scale or scope of resources (e.g., the Chesapeake Bay, Neuse River watershed, or all of the lakes in Minnesota). Transferability means that the study generates values, functions, or models that can be used reliably in a benefit transfer exercise. Given the current dearth of studies on non-use values for ecological goods and services, research is needed to obtain accurate values, functions, or models to estimate non-use benefits or total benefits (i.e., use plus non-use) where valuation of separate components is not possible.
  • It is crucial that valuation studies–particularly those investigating non-use values–be based on realistic descriptions of baseline conditions and changes from the baseline. Successful projects will almost certainly require interdisciplinary teams that can develop protocols for describing these changes in ways that are measurable and meaningful to the public. Many non-specialists may not have well-developed understandings of ecosystems or concrete preferences for different ecological benefits, especially those with which they have little direct experience (e.g., Lazo et al. 2000). There is also great uncertainty about what characteristics of ecosystems and ecological benefits are important to people and thus likely to give rise to significant benefit values. Proposals that are specifically designed to estimate values, functions, or models for one or more ecological benefits should be improved by the use of supplemental approaches in a preliminary stage (e.g., Schiller et al. 2001). Such approaches could include focus groups, cognitive interviews, or experimental methods, to determine how the public understands ecosystems and ecological benefits and how this information can be communicated most effectively.
  • Most existing ecological valuation studies focus on relatively few stressors and ecological benefits, but many policies affect numerous stressors that impact multiple ecological benefits. (For example, the only stressor Jakus et al. (1997) examine is the presence of fish advisories.) This piecemeal approach is limited because policies can affect many stressors and benefits simultaneously, and some may interact with each other in ways that invalidate combining the results from separate studies when analyzing new policies. In other words, stressors may not be separable and cumulative effects may be important. There is thus a need for research that attempts to develop and estimate theoretically sound and tractable frameworks that can simultaneously account for a variety of important ecological stressors and benefits. One approach that EPA wishes to encourage is the use of indicators or indices of ecological conditions to determine the correspondence between valuation based on indices and valuation based on more specific descriptions of ecosystems, ecological benefits, or bundles of benefits. Two related questions are how (1) individuals value marginal changes in these indices and (2) the relationship between the value for a change in a specific ecological benefit and the value of the corresponding change in an index.

Benefit Transfer

Time and cost considerations often preclude collecting new data and using a primary valuation method to estimate benefits for economic analyses. Policymakers usually rely on benefit transfer methods instead (Smith et al. 2002). Benefit transfer methods apply values or functions estimated in previous study cases to new policy cases (see Boyle and Bergstrom 1992, and accompanying papers, for a description of benefit transfer methods). However, many evaluations of benefit transfer methods have identified problems with aggregation, differences in goods between the policy and study cases, out-of-sample extrapolation, violations of utility theory, and a lack of values that correspond to the marginal changes of policy interest (e.g., Bergstrom and De Civita 1999, Delavan and Epp 2001, Smith and Pattanayak 2002, Smith et al. 2002). Thus, EPA is interested in proposals for improving existing benefit transfer methods or developing more accurate methods.

An important consideration is that many existing benefit transfer studies have used a small-scale study case (with one or a few sites) and transferred values to a small-scale policy case based on relatively high site-specific information about each site (e.g., Morrison et al. 2002). However, these high-information and small-scale evaluations do not correspond to the typical situation faced by policy analysts, who often must rely on spatially-aggregate data to characterize a large number of sites. In the context of groundwater valuation, for example, Delavan and Epp (2001) and VandenBerg et al. (2001) are examples of the former type of transfer study while Letson et al. (1998) and U.S. EPA (2001) are examples of the latter. Furthermore, because of data limitations, analysts often transfer mean values when benefit function transfer might be more accurate (e.g., Loomis 1992). To date, very little research on benefit transfer methods using readily-available, large-scale data has been done. It is therefore important to understand the relative accuracy and costs of large-scale benefit transfer methods with different levels of information.

A number of studies involving meta-analysis have also been conducted to summarize and synthesize valuation research, but few studies have addressed the complexities of applying meta-analysis in policy-relevant benefit transfer contexts where baseline resource conditions, uncertainty about resource changes, small marginal resource changes, and/or the need for non-use values are important considerations. Such meta-analyses are also within the scope of this solicitation.

The scope of research proposals investigating benefit transfer issues can include ecological benefits in general and not just ecological benefits associated with aquatic resources. However, any data collection designed to generate new values, functions, or models must conform to the scope described in the previous section, Improved Valuation of Ecological Benefits of Aquatic Resources.

Methodological Improvements

The SAB’s review of the draft Environmental Economics Research Strategy identified five priority methodological/theoretical questions. The questions (and one additional question) are listed in roughly descending order of funding priority. Methodological or theoretical studies outside of these areas may be funded, but the burden is on the proposer to explain why studies focusing on issues outside this list are needed.

  1. What is the appropriate geographic scope, or extent of the market, for aggregating individual welfare estimates to the general population? What are the errors if aggregation is done incorrectly? Two interrelated issues arise when defining the extent of the market, that is, determining whether a particular resource has a market that is local, state, regional, national, or global, or is defined by distance from the resource (e.g., Loomis 2000). The first issue is identifying an appropriate sampling frame from which to compute per-household values. The second issue is identifying the appropriate proportion of the general population (households in close proximity to the impacted resource, all households in a certain political jurisdiction, or all households in the world) to which these values can be extrapolated. The appropriate proportion of the population must then be matched to the sample. These are particularly important questions for nonuse values (Freeman 2003) and an understanding of the appropriate extent of the market is therefore important for many ecological benefits.
  2. How valid and reliable are different data collection methods for valuing ecological resources? Various survey methods have different advantages and disadvantages in terms of response rates, non-response bias, and interviewer bias. In particular, the Internet is rapidly becoming one of the preferred vehicles for implementing stated preference surveys, because of its flexible format and the ease of distribution and data collection it affords. However, there are also questions about the representativeness of Internet surveys (e.g., Smith 2001, Chang and Krosnik 2003). Thus, studies are needed that measure the relative validity and reliability of different modes of survey administration for use in environmental valuation.
  3. What are the most appropriate ways to combine stated and revealed preference data for valuing ecological resources and what gains are made by combining both types of data? What gains can be made from this approach? Combining stated and revealed preference data can provide a number of advantages compared to using just one of the two (e.g., Adamowicz et al. 1994), although this may not be straightforward (e.g., Huang et al. 1997). Research that elucidates the benefits of combining stated and revealed preference data and/or studies the drawbacks of doing so would be of interest.
  4. For what kinds of ecological benefits will willingness-to-pay and willingness-to-accept differ significantly, and by how much will they differ? Although the appropriate measure of value to use for benefit-cost analysis in a particular policy setting depends on the nature of the property rights that exist among those impacted by the policy, in practice the appropriate measure is not usually obvious (Freeman 2003). There is also substantial evidence that differences between willingness-to-pay and willingness-to-accept can be significant (e.g., Horowitz and McConnell 2002). EPA is not funding studies that only estimate the difference between these measures of value; studies would have to develop and test hypotheses for this divergence to be funded. The goal of these studies should be to improve the measurement and transfer of both willingness-to-pay and willingness-to-accept in new policy contexts. EPA is also seeking applications for research that identifies policy contexts when willingness-to-accept can or should be used.
  5. What is the appropriate opportunity cost of time to use in revealed preference studies? Previous research has shown that small differences in assumptions about the value of time used in recreation demand studies can yield large differences in the estimates of welfare (e.g., Feather and Shaw 1999). Thus, this RFA is soliciting proposals to develop better estimates of the opportunity cost of time, or proposals to simultaneously estimate the opportunity cost of time and the value of ecological resources.
  6. What are the most efficient bid designs for discrete choice stated preference studies and how do deviations from efficient bid design affect value estimates? Discrete choice stated preference studies require the researcher to define the bid distribution for respondents but much of the literature concerning bid design is based on an assumption of knowing the true distribution when it is, in fact, unknown. This RFA is soliciting proposals to measure, and develop methods to decrease, potential bias and inefficiency from suboptimal designs; and proposals for bid design research that develops methods that do not depend on an assumed true distribution or that use information to improve the bid distribution.

The scope of research proposals investigating any methodological and theoretical issues can be for ecological benefits in general and not simply ecological benefits associated with aquatic resources some methodological or theoretical proposals could be divorced from any specific benefit). However, any data collection designed to generate new values, functions, or models must conform to the scope described in the section Improved Valuation of Ecological Benefits of Aquatic Resources.

References

Adamowicz, W., J. Louviere, and M. Williams. 1994. “Combining Revealed and Stated Preferences Methods for Valuing Environmental Amenities.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 26: 271-292.

Bergstrom, John C., and Paul De Civita. 1999. “Status of Benefits Transfer in the United States and Canada: A Review.” Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics 47: 79-87.

Bingham, Gail, Richard Bishop, Michael Brody, Daniel Bromley, Edwin (Toby) Clark, William Cooper, Robert Costanza, Thomas Hale, Gregory Hayden, Stephen Kellert, Richard Norgaard, Bryan Norton, John Payne, Clifford Russell, and Glenn Suter. 1995. “Issues in Ecosystem Valuation: Improving Information for Decision Making.” Ecological Economics 14: 73-90.

Bockstael, N., R. Costanza, I. Strand, W. Boynton, K. Bell, and L. Wainger. 1995. “Ecological Economic Modeling and Valuation of Ecosystems.” Ecological Economics 14: 143-159.

Boyle, Kevin J., and John C. Bergstom. 1992. “Benefit Transfer Studies: Myths, Pragmatism, and Idealism.” Water Resources Research 28: 657-663.

Chang, LinChiat, and Jon A. Krosnick. 2003. “National Surveys Via RDD Telephone Interviewing vs. the Internet: Comparing Sample Representativeness and Response Quality.” Working Paper. (http://www.psy.ohio-state.edu/social/CSR-KN-HI.doc) exit EPA

Daily, Gretchen C., Susan Alexander, Paul R. Ehrlich, Larry Goulder, Jane Lubchenco, Pamela A. Matson, Harold A. Mooney, Sandra Postel, Stephen H. Schneider, David Tilman, and George M. Woodwell. 1997. “Ecosystem Services: Benefits Supplied to Human Societies by Natural Ecosystems.” Issues in Ecology Number 2: 1-16.

Delavan, Willard, and Donald J. Epp. 2001. “Benefits Transfer: The Case of Nitrate Contamination in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Maine.” In The Economic Value of Water Quality. John C. Begstrom, Kevin J. Boyle, and Gregory L. Poe (eds.), Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 121-136.

de Groot, Rudolf S., Matthew A. Wilson, and Roelof M.J. Boumans. 2002. “A Typology for the Classification, Description and Valuation of Ecosystems Functions, Goods and Services.” Ecological Economics 41: 393-408.

Feather, Peter M., and W. Douglass Shaw. 1999. “Estimating the Cost of Leisure Time for Recreation Demand Models.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 38: 49-65.

Freeman, A. Myrick III. 2003. The Measurement of Environmental and Resource Values: Theory and Methods. 2nd edition. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.

Horowitz, John, and Kenneth E. McConnell. 2002. “A Review of WTA/WTP Studies.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 44: 426-47.

Huang, Ju-Chin, Timothy C. Haab, and John C. Whitehead. 1997. “Willingness to Pay for Quality Improvements: Should Revealed and Stated Preference Data Be Combined?” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 34: 240-255.

Jakus, Paul M., Mark Downing, Mark S. Bevelheimer, and J. Mark Fly. 1997. “Do Sportfish Consumption Advisories Affect Reservoir Anglers’ Site Choice?” Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 26: 196-204.

Lazo, Jeffrey K., Jason C. Kinnell, and Ann Fisher. 2000. “Expert and Layperson Perceptions of Ecosystem Risk.” Risk Analysis 20: 179-193.

Letson, David, Noel Gollehon, Vincent Breneman, Catherine Kascak, and Carlyle Mose. 1998. “Confined Animal Production and Groundwater Protection.” Review of Agricultural Economics 20: 348-364.

Limburg, Karin E., and Carl Folke. 1999. “The Ecology of Ecosystem Services: Introduction to the Special Issue. Ecological Economics 29: 179-182.

Loomis, John B. 1992. “The Evolution of a More Rigorous Approach to Benefit Transfer: Benefit Functions Transfer.” Water Resources Research 28 701-705.

Loomis, John B. 2000. “Vertically Summing Public Good Demand Curves: An Empirical Comparison of Economic Versus Political Jurisdictions.” Land Economics 76: 312-321.

Morrison, Mark, Jeff Bennett, Russell Blamey, and Jordan Louviere. 2002. “Choice Modeling and Tests of Benefit Transfer.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 84: 161-170.

Schiller, A., C. T. Hunsaker, M. A. Kane, A. K. Wolfe, V. H. Dale, G. W. Suter, C. S. Russell, G. Pion, M.H.Jensen, and V. C. Konar. 2001. Communicating ecological indicators to decision-makers and the public. Conservation Ecology 5: 19. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol5/iss1/art19/index.html. exit EPA

Smith, Tom W. 2001. “Are Representative Internet Surveys Possible?” Proceedings of Statistics Canada Symposium 2001, Achieving Data Quality in a Statistical Agency: A Methodological Perspective.

Smith, V. Kerry, and Subhrendu K. Pattanayak. 2002. “Is Meta-Analysis a Noah’s Ark for Non-Market Valuation?” Environmental and Resource Economics 22: 271-296.

Smith, V. Kerry, George Van Houtven, and Subhrendu K. Pattanayak. 2002. “Benefit Transfer via Preference Calibration: ‘Prudential Algebra’ for Policy.” Land Economics 78: 132-152.

Suter, Glenn W. II. 1995. “Adapting Ecological Risk Assessment for Ecosystem Valuation.” Ecological Economics 14: 137-141.

U.S. EPA. 2001. Environmental and Economic Benefit Analysis of Proposed Revisions to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Regulation and the Effluent Guidelines for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. EPA 821-R-01-002. (http://epa.gov/ost/guide/cafo/economics.html#envir)

U.S. EPA. 2003a. Environmental Economics Research Strategy. SAB Review Draft. (http://www.epa.gov/researchntrnt/ORD/htm/documents/EERS-06052003.pdf) (PDF, 85pp., 1.24MB, about PDF)

U.S. EPA. 2003b. Ecological Benefits Assessment Strategic Plan. SAB Review Draft. September 30, 2003. View report. (PDF, 46pp., 336.37 KB, about PDF)

VandenBerg, Timothy P., Gregory L. Poe, and John R. Powell. 2001. “Assessing the Accuracy of Benefits Transfers: Evidence from a Multi-Site Contingent Valuation Study of Ground Water Quality.” In The Economic Value of Water Quality. John C. Begstrom, Kevin J. Boyle, and Gregory L. Poe (eds.), Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 100-120.

Authority and Regulations

The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Clean Air Act, Section 103, as amended, Public Law 95-95, 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.; the Clean Water Act, Section 104, as amended, Public Law 95-217, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq., Solid Waste Disposal Act, Section 8001, as amended 42 U.S.C. 6981; Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10, as amended 15 U.S.C. 2609; and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Section 20, as amended 7 U.S.C. 136r.

AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $1-2 million will be awarded, depending on the availability of funds. EPA anticipates funding approximately 1-3 grants under this RFA. The projected award per grant is $50,000 to $400,000 per year total costs, for up to 3 years. Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits ($1,000,000) will not be considered.

The total project period for an application submitted in response to this RFA may not exceed 3 years.

EPA expects the relative funding across the three areas described in this RFA to mirror the order in which they are discussed: the largest amount to Improved Valuation of Ecological Benefits of Aquatic Resources and the smallest amount to Methodological Improvements. Within the Methodological Improvements area, EPA expects relative funding to mirror the priorities identified in that section.

ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Eligible Applicants

Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments, are eligible to apply. Universities and educational institutions must be subject to OMB Circular A-21. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program.

Eligible nonprofit organizations include any organizations that meet the definition of nonprofit in OMB Circular A-122. However, nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply.

National laboratories funded by federal agencies (Federally-funded Research and Development Centers, “FFRDCs”) may not apply. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the principal investigator, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization or principal investigator. The principal investigator's institution, organization, or governance may provide funds through its grant from EPA to a FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research. However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.

Federal agencies may not apply. Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a grant, and may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program. Nonetheless, federal employees may interact with grantees so long as their involvement is not essential to achieving the basic goals of the grant. EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant principal investigators for the sole purpose of exchanging information in research areas of common interest that may add value to their respective research activities. This interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant. Interaction that is “incidental” does not involve resource commitments.

The principal investigator’s institution may enter into an agreement with a federal agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere. A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal agency involved which commits it to supply the specified service.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Tom Barnwell in NCER, phone 202-343-9862, email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

Cost sharing

Institutional cost-sharing is not required.

APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Address to Request Application Package

Application forms and other materials can be found on the NCER web site at:
http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/.

Content and Form of Application Submission

Information on the content and form of the application submission can be found in Section #2: The Application, and Section #5: Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements of NCER’s Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application. These instructions can be found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms.

Special Requirements

This solicitation’s priority is empirical results; however, proposals that include theoretical innovations may be successful. All proposals must demonstrate a sound basis in economic theory and familiarity with the relevant theoretical and empirical literature. Successful proposals will demonstrate a thorough understanding of similar research and clearly articulate the policy and scientific contribution that will be made by the proposed research.

EPA recognizes this research will likely require collaboration among researchers representing a variety of disciplines, especially including economists, ecologists, statisticians, and other social scientists, and EPA encourages this collaboration. EPA recognizes that this collaboration is not always easy because different disciplines focus on different issues and have developed different methodological approaches (e.g., Bingham et al. 1995, Bockstael et al. 1995, Suter 1995) but is placing funding priority on proposals that involve an integrated, interdisciplinary team of researchers. Proposers should therefore explain the extent of this collaboration.

The application must include a plan to make available and deliver all data (including primary and secondary data) from observations, analyses, or model development under a grant awarded in this program in a format and with documentation such that others in the scientific community may readily use them. The data must be provided to the project officer in a standard exchange format without restriction and be accompanied by comprehensive meta-data documentation adequate to allow specialists and non-specialists alike to be able to understand how and where the data were obtained and to evaluate the quality of the data. Applicants who develop databases containing proprietary or restricted information should provide a strategy, not to exceed two pages, to make the data widely available, while protecting privacy or property rights. These pages are in addition to the 15 pages permitted for the project description.

All investigators whose proposals value specific ecological benefits should explicitly describe or cite the risk assessment models that would be used to predict changes in the flow of those benefits.

Supplemental Instructions

As noted above, proposals in response to this solicitation will likely require collaboration among researchers representing a variety of disciplines. The review process will therefore require a variety of disciplines and investigators should provide a balance between technical detail and accessibility to non-specialists.

The following page limitations supercede those in the Standard Instructions.

Investigators proposing research in only one of the three areas discussed in this solicitation will be held to the page limits in the Standard Instructions. (These three areas are Improved Valuation of Ecological Benefits of Aquatic Resources, Benefit Transfer, and Methodological Improvements.)

Investigators proposing research in two or three of these areas are may devote extra space to their research plan. Investigators proposing research in two of these areas are granted 5 extra pages (for a total of 20) for their Research Plan. Investigators proposing research in all three of these areas are granted 10 extra pages (for a total of 25) for their Research Plan. Investigators proposing research in more than one area should carefully explain how the research areas are related and how the different research areas will be integrated. EPA may choose to fund only some of the proposed research.

Sorting Code

The need for a sorting code to be used in the application and for mailing is described in Section #1: Sorting Code/Topic Areas of NCER’s Standard Instructions (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/). The sorting code for applications submitted in response to this solicitation is 2004-STAR-Q1

Submission Dates and Times

Applications must be received by the application receipt date listed in this announcement. If an application is received after that date, it will be returned to the applicant without review.

The following is the schedule for this RFA. It should be noted that this schedule may be changed without prior notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement. In the case of a change in the required receipt date, the new date will be posted on the NCER website.

Application Receipt Date: September 28, 2004, 4:00 p.m. E.S.T.
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: July 2005

Intergovernmental Review

Research funded under this program may be eligible under E.O. 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs,” if it affects public health or if an environmental impact statement is required. If applicable, an applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.

Funding Restrictions

Requests for EPA funding in excess of a total of $1,000,000, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered.

Budgetary requirements will be found in Sections 2H: Budget and 2I: Budget Justification of NCER’s Standard Instructions (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/). The applicant must present a detailed, itemized budget for the entire project. If a sub-agreement, such as a sub-contract, is included in the application, provide a separate budget for the sub-contract in the same format. Include the total amount for the sub-agreement under “Contracts” in the master budget. Any project which contains sub-agreements that constitute more than 40% of the total direct cost of the grant will be subject to special internal review. Additional justification for use of such sub-contracts must be provided, discussing the need for these agreements to accomplish the objectives of the research project.

Other Submission Requirements

Because of security concerns, applications cannot be personally delivered. They must be sent through regular mail, express mail, or a major courier.

The following address must be used for regular mail:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sorting Code: 2004-STAR-Q1
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460

The following address must be used for express mail and couriers:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sorting Code: 2004-STAR-Q1
1025 F. Street, NW (Room 3500)
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 233-0686

Additional information on submission requirements will be found in Section #4: How to Apply of NCER’s Standard Instructions (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/).

APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

Criteria

Consideration of an application’s merit is based on the following criteria: (1) the originality and creativity of the proposed research, the appropriateness and adequacy of the research methods proposed and the quality assurance statement; (2) the qualifications of the principal investigator(s) and other key personnel; (3) the responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs identified for the topic area; (4) the availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment proposed for the project. Although budget information does not indicate an the application’s scientific merit, the reviewers are also asked to provide their view on the appropriateness and/or adequacy of the proposed budget. All else equal, proposals that consider multiple ecological benefits will be ranked higher than those that consider only single benefits, and proposals that involve an integrated, interdisciplinary team of researchers will be ranked higher than those that include only a single discipline. Additional information on review criteria will be found in Section #6: Review and Selection of NCER’s Standard Instructions (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/).

Review and Selection Process

All grant applications are reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review panel. This review is designed to evaluate each proposal according to its scientific merit. Applications that receive scores of excellent and very good from the peer reviewers are subjected to a programmatic review within the EPA to assure a balanced research portfolio for the Agency. The programmatic review considers the relevance of the proposed science to EPA research priorities, program balance, budget and available funds. Selected applications are then recommended for funding to the NCER Director who makes funding decisions. Selected applicants will be required to provide additional information and the application will be forwarded to the grants administration office for award in accordance with the EPA’s procedures.

AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Award Notices

Customarily, applicants are notified about award decisions within six months of the application deadline. A summary statement of the scientific review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant with the award or declination letter.

Administrative and National Policy Requirements

Expectations and responsibilities of NCER grantees will be found in Section #8: Expectations and Responsibilities of STAR Grantees of NCER’s Standard Instructions (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/). Terms and conditions associated with an NCER award can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance.

Reporting

NCER grantees will be required to provide annual progress reports and a final technical report. All investigators whose proposals use focus groups, cognitive interviews, or similar methods should plan to report findings and insights from these methods as part of their annual reports.

CONTACT POINT(S)

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA official(s) indicated below. Email inquiries are preferred.

Technical: Will Wheeler; Phone: 202-343-9828; email: wheeler.william@epa.gov
Eligibility: Thomas Barnwell; Phone: 202-343-9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

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