Climate Policy

Towards Optimal Climate Policy, Part II

The future of effective climate policy requires balancing equity, efficiency, political feasibility, and technological innovation

In the prior blog post in this two-part series, I talked about how current debates on climate policy that are focused on equity and efficiency are inadequate. Today, I’ll explain how we might advance political feasibility through climate policy, how that is connected to technological innovation, and how we must necessarily balance between all four …

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Public Opinion and the Limits of Climate Policy

There’s a simple reason why it’s so hard to take bold climate actions nationally.

Gallup has studied environmental attitudes in America for several decades.  Their historical compilation is very revealing about our present political situation. It sheds light on why it’s been so hard to develop momentum for real change at the national level, and also about why there’s so much more of a push for change within the …

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Towards Optimal Climate Policy, Part I

Moving the debate beyond equity and efficiency

As Congress debates two large pieces of legislation – both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a partisan reconciliation package – a key question is the extent to which either piece of legislation (assuming it is enacted) addresses climate policy. And the recent flooding in Europe, the wildfires in the western US and Russia, and more …

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American Soil

Soil is an important carbon sink. It’s literally going down the drain, eroding away.

Today is Earth Day. Let’s talk about something earthy: the dirt under our feet. When I was a kid growing up in central Illinois, the topsoil was black and went down about a foot.  When I was a little older and tried gardening, I was amazed at the fertility of the soil.  When I’ve gone …

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Keeping It All In the Ground?

Exploring legal options for congressional and executive actions to terminate existing fossil fuel leases on federal lands.

The Biden Administration has set aggressive goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the United States.  And a necessary component for any long-term plan to address greenhouse gas emissions from the United States is reducing and ultimately eliminating the emissions from fossil fuels produced on federal lands. Why is this such a critical …

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Recalculating the Cost of Climate Change

The Biden Administration has already started to revisit this important issue.

“The social cost of carbon” isn’t exactly a household phrase. It’s an estimate of the harm caused by emitting a ton of CO2 over the many decades it remains in the atmosphere.  That’s an important factor in calculating the costs and benefits of climate regulations. For an arcane concept, it has certainly caused a lot …

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Peer Production of Climate Action

Wikipedia and climate actions by cities and states have more in common than you might think.

Wikipedia is celebrating its twentieth birthday. When it was launched, this effort to create an encyclopedia seemed like a joke compared with Microsoft’s big-money effort, which was called Encarta.  Encarta is long gone but Wikipedia has thrived beyond anyone’s expectations.  Today, Wikipedia has fifty-five million entries, with 270,000 active editors a month.  While imperfect, the …

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Renewable Energy in the Midwest

Under Trump, it’s been a mixed picture, with progress except in two states. What were Midwestern states doing during the four years Trump was busy promoting fossil fuels? States with Democratic governors are making progress.  Of the three states under unified Republican control, two are trying to prop up coal. Ohio has decreased support for …

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Three of Yesterday’s Stories of Climate Progress

There was Biden’s Executive Order, of course. And two other things. Or maybe three.

Yesterday, I read three encouraging stories about the U.S. and climate change.  One was about action by the federal government, one about action by the states, and one about action by the private sector.  The biggest news was from the federal government, in the form of Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at …

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2020: The Year in Review

Trump’s deregulatory reign of terror continued, but there were still some bright spots.

In terms of the environment, the big news was the election.  Biden swept the popular vote and won a solid victor in the Electoral College. At this point, the Republicans have retained control of the Senate, though runoff elections in Georgia could change that. On another front, US carbon emissions were down for the year, …

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