Energy

What Hath FERC Wrought?

FERC’s GOP majority has taken a swipe against renewable energy. It might work, or it might backfire.

At the end of June, in a vote divided along partisan lines, FERC handed down a sweeping order that will impact electricity markets in a wide swath of the country. — likely at the expense of renewable energy and nuclear power. Unfortunately, like Trump’s power plant bailout, the result may be to delay the closing […]

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Safeguarding Climate Policies

There are several strategies for insulating climate policy from leaders like Trump.

Trump’s election was a surprise. What should not be a surprise is the inevitability of political setbacks for climate policy. We saw that in the U.S. with the shift from Clinton to Bush and then from Obama to Trump. We also saw that in Australia where it meant the repeal of a promising emissions trading […]

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Trump’s Dubious Bailout

It’s unlikely that a bailout will have more than a temporary effect. Assuming it holds up in court, that is.

Trump plans to use national security powers to prop up uneconomic coal and nuclear plants.  Rick Perry says the government is trying to figure out the cost of this effort – but he doesn’t seem to care what that cost would be. After all, he says, “You cannot put a dollar figure on the cost to keep […]

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Getting to Zero Fatalities

Eliminating traffic deaths and vehicle emissions by 2050? Not as crazy as you might think.

Could we have a transportation system with zero deaths from car crashed and zero emissions? That seems utopian but it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Even if we don’t get all the way to zero, we could get much closer than you might think. In The Road to Zero, RAND researchers provide a roadmap […]

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The Puzzle of Capacity Markets

What are capacity markets and why do they matter?

If you live in the Midwest, East of the Mississippi and North of the Mason-Dixon line, or in Arkansas or Louisiana, the companies that generate your electricity are covered by what are called capacity markets.  I’ll bet you didn’t know that.  That’s actually part of the problem, because there’s very little transparency and hence little […]

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A Trumped-Up Bailout Plan

Legally deficient? Arbitrary? Disguised special interest favors? All par for the course in this Administration.

You couldn’t ask for a more typical example of the Trump Administration at work. Nuclear and coal plants are being closed across the country, unable to compete with cheap natural gas and increasingly cheap renewables.  In a desperate effort to support the coal industry, Trump wants to force consumers to subsidize these plants.  It’s not […]

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What Trump Gives Appalachia With One Hand, He Takes Away with the Other

Ryan Zinke’s public land policies are accelerating the decline of eastern coal.

There is no one who Trump loves more than coal miners, and he has surrounded himself with Appalachian coal miners on important occasions. One of his most fervent pledges was to “end the war on coal.” Yet, Trump’s public lands policies are helping to accelerate the decline of eastern coal. A recent study by researchers […]

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CRISPR Approaches to Environmental Problems

Breakthroughs in gene editing might open the door to improved environmental protections. Or maybe not.

CRISPR is a breakthrough gene editing method. (I can’t refrain from noting that a key role in the discovery was played Jennifer Doudna at Berkeley.) There are potential risks from gene editing to the environment, similar to other types of GMOs. But there may be environmental benefits too. Here are a few that have been […]

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California’s New Rooftop Solar Mandate

The California Energy Commission’s new mandate receives mixed reviews.

The recent decision of the California Energy Commission to require the inclusion of rooftop solar photovoltaics on most new homes has engendered praise from some quarters, and criticism from others. Some see this new policy as a positive force, helping to reduce the cost of solar and contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. […]

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Let a Hundred (Municipal) Flowers Bloom

Despite Trump, cities across the country are taking climate change seriously.

In the era of Trump, one bright spot remains what’s happening in cities across the nation. Here are some numbers: 402 U.S. mayors have endorsed the Paris Agreement and announced their intention of meeting its goals, while 118 have endorsed the goal of making their cities 100% renewable. A bit of quick research provides a […]

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