Property and Environment Research Center
|Motto||Improving Environmental Quality Through Property Rights and Markets|
|Political Economy Research Center|
The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), previously known as the Political Economy Research Center, is a free market environmental think tank based in Bozeman, Montana, United States. Established in 1982, originally as the Political Economy Research Center, PERC is dedicated to original research on market approaches to resolving environmental problems.
The Property and Environment Research Center grew out of an intellectual collaboration between economists John Baden and Richard L. Stroup. In 1978, the two men established the Center for Political Economy and Natural Resources at Montana State University. They later created PERC as a free-standing research institution.
PERC engages in research and advocacy related to free-market environmentalism and is active on issues including endangered species, water, pollution, and public lands. PERC says that government policy is the root cause of much environmental degradation. The Dust Bowl Reconsidered, for instance, blames the federal Homestead Act for accelerating erosion problems by limiting claims of newly settled land to 160-320 acre (0.65 to 1.3 km²) parcels. According to this article, fragmented land ownership reduced the incentives for implementing erosion countermeasures and made it difficult for farmers to negotiate contracts for voluntary soil conservation.
PERC also addresses the environmental problems of developing countries. For instance, a 2005 PERC Report noted that farmers were growing chili peppers along the boundaries of their fields to prevent elephants from damaging their crops, since elephants find spicy foods unpalatable. The chili peppers are cheaper than electric fences and can be sold as a cash crop.
PERC seeks to influence public policy by publishing guides for Congressional staff and organizing weeklong seminars for undergraduates. The organization's monthly publication, PERC Reports, regularly features articles questioning assumptions that form the basis of U.S. federal environmental law.