Survey-based contingent valuation (CV) techniques are commonly used to value the potential effects of a policy change when market-based valuation of those effects is not possible. The results of these analyses are often intended to inform policy decisions, which are made within the context of formal policymaking institutions. These institutions are typically designed to reduce the large number of potential options for addressing any given policy problem to a binary choice between the continuation of current policy and a single, specified alternative. In this research we develop an approach for conducting CV exercises in a manner consistent with the decision structure typically faced by policymakers. The data generated from this approach allow for an estimate of willingness to pay (WTP) for a defined policy alternative, relative to leaving policy unchanged, which we argue is of direct interest to policymakers. We illustrate our approach within the context of policy governing the storage of used nuclear fuel in the United States. We value the policy option of constructing an interim storage facility relative to continuation of current policy, wherein used nuclear fuel is stored on-site at or near commercial nuclear generating plants. We close the paper with a discussion of the implications for future research and the role of CV in the policymaking process.
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