ECON 240 - Issues in Environmental Economics (GT-SS1)

  • 3 credits

Note: This course is usually offered Summer and Fall.

Discussion and economic analysis of current environmental issues with special emphasis on the impact of economic growth.

Economics is the study of how society allocates goods and services in a world with scarce resources. Environmental economics uses the principles of economics to understand how environmental resources are currently managed (or how they should be managed) in an economic system based on markets. This discipline tries to identify ways to improve upon market outcomes and to create effective mechanisms to regulate economic activity to better balance economic goals with environmental goals. In this course we explore the tools of environmental economics and then apply these tools to a variety of environmental problems, including oil-spill disasters, acid rain, national parks, water, sustainability, climate change, etc.

Topics covered:

• the role of economics in environmental decision making
• the basics of markets and market failures
• externalities, public goods, and open-access resources
• valuing the benefits of environmental protection
• valuing the costs of environmental protection
• efficiency criteria for evaluating environmental costs
• policy tools (controls, taxes, permits) and their assessment
• applications to particular pollution issues of interest
• economics of renewable resources: fisheries and forests
• economics of growth and the environment: development and sustainability

Throughout the semester the student will:

• learn the basic concepts and tools of environmental economics;
• think critically about current environmental problems using the lens of an environmental economist;
• develop the skills to communicate an environmental economic effectively, through writing and oral presentations.

This course meets the All-University Core Curriculum (AUCC) requirements for Social/Behavioral Sciences (Category 3C) and is approved under gtPathways in the content area of Economic or Political Systems (GT-SS1).


Credit not allowed for both ECON 240 and AREC 240.

Important Information

Credit not allowed for both ECON 240 and AREC 240.

Textbooks and Materials

Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.


  • Economics and the Environment, 8th Ed.
    Goodstein, Eban S. and Polasky, Stephen
    ISBN: 978-1119369868
  • Economics and the Environment E-Text, 8th Ed.
    Goodstein, Eban S.
    ISBN: 978-1119397748

Choose paper text or e-text.


Matthew Elmer
Matthew Elmer

Matt is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Economics here at Colorado State University. His fields of study and research are in public, environmental, ecological, and regional economics. Prior to attending CSU he studied at the University of Colorado Boulder pursuing a double major in political science and economics with an emphasis in public economics. After graduating from CU, he began his journey at CSU in 2013 and is now finishing up field courses while also teaching part time and doing research part time with the US Forest Service. While at CSU he has taught classes on microeconomics, macroeconomics, environmental economics, and econometrics.