Energy

Why Are Big Utilities Planning to Cut Carbon?

Solar panel array in CA desert

The top ten utilities have set goals for emissions reduction. It’s less clear what’s driving them.

As my post on Monday indicated, the top ten utilities have all announced plans for cutting carbon in the next several decades. Some of these utilities, like PG&E or ConEd, operate in states that have ambitious climate policies. It’s easy to see why utilities in New York or California would be setting their own targets. …

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Emissions by the Big Utilities: Where They Are, What They’re Aiming For

Almost all the top ten utilities are big emitters today but looking to cut back.

There’s a lot of discussion of how the private sector is supporting renewable energy, but it’s almost all about power consumers like Apple and Walmart. But what about the companies who are selling the power? As a first step to getting a better sense of where the utility industry is going, we accumulated some basic …

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(Mis)Estimating Regulatory Costs

EPA’s cost estimate for its mercury rule was way, way off.

In describing cost-benefit analysis to students, I’ve often told them that the “cost” side of the equation is pretty simple. And it does seem simple: just get some engineers to figure out how industry can comply and run some spreadsheets of the costs. But this seemingly simple calculation turns out to be riddled with uncertainties, …

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Breaking Up with Fossil Fuels

It’s not us. It’s you.

WORLD: Thanks for the card. . . . But I think we need to talk. FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY: About what? W: About us. FFI: About us?? Can’t it wait until some other time? This is Valentine’s Day, and I’ve made plans for us.  Big plans. W: The pandemic has given me a lot of time …

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Frank G. Wells Clinic Faculty File Amicus Brief on Behalf of Law Professors in California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley

Supporting Berkeley’s ability to decide where utility infrastructure may be built

This week, as part of the Frank G. Wells Clinic in Environmental Law, Cara Horowitz, Julia Stein, and I filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of seven law professors in the Ninth Circuit case California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley, in which the California Restaurant Association (CRA), an industry association, is challenging a …

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Jim Crow and the Fossil Fuel Industry

The fossil fuel industry has yet to escape its discriminatory past.

This being Black History Month, I thought it would be worthwhile looking at the fossil fuel industry’s racial history.  Given the historic concentration of the oil and coal industries in the South, it is no surprise to find that these industries have also been deeply entangled with Jim Crow and its legacy of discrimination. Oil …

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Un-Inventing Fire

After many eons, reliance on combustion for energy is ending.

To head off disastrous climate change, we need to radically transform the modern energy system. We must largely move beyond the use of fire, the first and most important of inventions. The core energy technology used by humans has always involved, in one form or another, burning things up. To a large extent, combatting climate …

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Aggregating the Harms of Fossil Fuels

They’re even worse than you probably thought.

The decision at the Glasgow climate conference to phase down fossil fuels is an important step forward — and not just because of climate change.  We think of fossil fuels as a source of climate change, but that’s only a one part of the problem. From their extraction to their combustion, everything about them is …

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The Shock of the Global

Natural gas flame

What the current fossil fuel energy crisis means for climate and clean energy policy

Pick up any newspaper and it is clear that much of the world is experiencing a series of interrelated energy price shocks.  In Europe and the UK, natural gas prices are up by more than 500% over the last year, hitting all-time highs earlier this month. In the US, even with abundant supplies of natural …

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Oregon Takes a Big Step Forward

New climate legislation sets a high bar for other states.

On Wednesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a package of four clean energy bills. These bills move Oregon to the forefront of climate action.  These laws ban new fossil fuel plants and set aggressive targets for the state’s two major utilities, requiring emission cuts of 80% by 2030, 90% by 2035 and 100% by 2040.  …

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