Energy

Gates on Climate

A guide to updating the global operating system.

The original Microsoft operating system was called QDOS, for Quick and Dirty  Operating System. Bill Gates’s new book might well have been called “A Quick and Dirty Guide to Climate Policy.”   The book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, provides a concise overview of climate policy, detailing the threat of the climate crisis and a …

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Creating New Jobs in Coal Country and the Oil Patch

How can we help carbon-dependent communities transition economically?

One of the goals of Biden’s clean energy and infrastructure proposals is to provide an economic boost to people who will otherwise lose out in the transition to a sustainable economy.  He has similar plans for “environmental justice” communities.  This is a great goal, but it may be more difficult than it seems. In a …

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Biden’s Infrastructure Plan: FAQs

Yes, it’s a big deal. And yes, it’s politically dicey.

Biden has announced a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, with a heavy focus on climate-related investments.  The plan is very complicated, and the news coverage hasn’t been all that helpful.  Here are the key questions we should be asking about the plan, along with my best attempts to answer. Q: What’s in the plan? A: It’s …

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Do regulators and utility managers have irreconcilable differences or mutual goals?

By Alida Cantor, Luke Sherman, Anita Milman, and Mike Kiparsky

Do regulators and utility managers have irreconcilable differences or mutual goals?   By Alida Cantor, Luke Sherman, Anita Milman, and Mike Kiparsky. What do climate change, aging infrastructure, and urban population growth have in common? They all pose major challenges – especially for water infrastructure in the United States. And many utilities are having a …

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Biden’s Dilemma: Limiting Carbon from Existing Power Plants

It’s not that the policy choices are that hard. It’s the 6-3 Supreme Court.

Coal- and gas-fired power plants are a major source of U.S. carbon emissions. The Obama Administration devised a perfectly sensible, moderate policy to cut those emissions.  The Trump Administration replaced it with a ridiculous token policy.  The D.C. Circuit appeals court tossed that out. Now what? It wouldn’t be hard to redo the Obama policy …

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Regulating Interstate Ozone Pollution: EPA Nears the Finish Line

The regulatory history is dauntingly convoluted. This sixteen year regulatory saga has lessons for climate policy.

EPA issued a rule last week that will significantly improve air quality, particularly on the East Coast.  This is EPA’s fourth and final iteration of a rule-making process to control interstate air pollution that began in 2005.  Reflecting this history, this fourth rule is a second and presumably final revision of an update to an …

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If Liberals Were the Ones Who Favored Fossil Fuels. . .

Here’s what the conservative response might look like.

Conservatives often come to the defense of fossil fuels and disdain renewable energy. Is that really consistent with their principles? Let’s imagine what conservatives might say if the table were turned,  Suppose liberals proposed government support for fossil fuels.  The conservative response might look something like this: Another Liberal Boondoggle Now they want to prop …

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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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Where “Old King Coal” Still Holds Court

Use of coal is dwindling across the country, but very unevenly.  We need to give it a good shove.

The NY Times ran a story last week about a coal area in Wyoming that is embracing renewable energy as its economic future.  Residents of Carbon County, WY,  aren’t necessarily happy about it but they recognize that the times are changing. As one county commissioner said,  “You can stand at the tracks when the train …

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Institutional Capacity Building for the Energy Transition

State agencies will need help to deal with a fast-changing energy system.

The COVID pandemic has provided a vivid picture of what happens when ill-prepared governments are suddenly hit with huge responsibilities.  Underfunded state and local public health agencies were overwhelmed, while governors and local officials found themselves struggling to obtain and distribute vital supplies, from respirators to vaccines. Efforts to accelerate the transition away from carbon, …

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