Energy

An Easy, No-Fuss, Climate Fix for that Big First Day in Office

No, not rejoining the Paris Agreement, though that’s a good idea too. Something else.

This is kind of like one of those recipe things you see: putting a gourmet meal on the table in five minutes.  But it’s more like: the one ingredient that will make all your recipes come out better.  More seriously, what I’m about to propose is very conventional, easily integrated into agency procedures, and a …

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Understanding wastewater utility views on innovation and regulation

Figure 1

by Luke Sherman, Alida Cantor, Anita Milman, and Michael Kiparsky

The same underlying technology has been used in the municipal wastewater sector for 100 years. New technologies that treat effluent more efficiently and effectively exist, yet deployment of those technologies has been slow. The limited adoption of new technologies in the wastewater sector raises questions about how to encourage innovation. Popular narratives around innovation sometimes …

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Utah’s Stealth Climate Plan

Here’s some upbeat news. I bet you needed that.

Hardly anyone noticed at the time, but Utah enacted an important bill about climate change in 2018. Yes, Utah – where the GOP holds 78% of the legislature. How that happened, and what happened since, is a story worth telling. The bill itself did not impose any carbon restrictions.  But it did call for “the …

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Bold But Realistic Climate Actions

Here’s what a new President could actually do.

What options are available to a new President taking office in 2021?  Let’s assume a favorable scenario for climate action in which Dems take unified control of the government (White House, Senate, House) in 2021.  What then? The first theme to keep in mind is that the Democrats will still be subject to some significant …

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Charging Consumers for Imaginary Power Needs

FERC is distorting energy markets in the name of perfect competition.

Last year, the GOP majority on FERC decided that state clean energy policies were distorting energy markets in the country’s largest grid region.  Because they provided incentives for power producers, FERC ruled, those policies should be considered subsidies. It directed grid operators to introduce new policies to counter those subsidies and halt the dreadful onslaught …

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Climate Change and the Financial Industry

How is one of the world’s largest industries responding to climate change?

As of 2018, the U.S. financial industry contributed $1.5 trillion to GDP.  How is the financial sector responding to climate change?  The short answer is “slowly so far, but there are signs of progress.” For instance, just last Friday, the NY Times reported that European Central Bank began a strategy review with climate change on …

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Pricing Carbon: What Does It Actually Accomplish?

Pricing carbon may not work the way economists thought.

In theory, pricing carbon should incentivize emissions reductions.  In reality, it is unclear to what extent that takes place unless the carbon price is very high.  This is not to say that pricing carbon is useless, but the main benefits may take different forms. Basically, there are two ways of putting a price on carbon.  …

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Looking Ahead: Inauguration Day, 2021.

There are 3 plausible scenarios for the new balance of power.

Inauguration day is a year from today.   What will the balance of power be then?  The House doesn’t seem to be in play.  Democrats have an uphill fight to win the Senate,  so a GOP White House would probably mean a GOP Senate.  That leaves three likely scenarios, with different implications for environmental law. Scenario …

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Juliana and the Future of Climate Litigation

Asking judges to pass judgment on all U.S. energy policy was a bridge too far.

The Ninth Circuit threw out the Juliana litigation this morning.  The two judges in the majority basically said,  legalistic language, that you can’t get the Green New Deal by court order. It was wrong for the Supreme Court to step in at the last minute to put the trial on hold, rather than giving the …

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We Can’t Count on Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Prevent Dangerous Climate Change

Last week’s climate summit yielded little in the way of action. Photo via UNFCCC.

Although reducing emissions remains essential, it is time to focus on additional responses

Last month, representatives of all countries gathered for their annual meeting to prevent climate change. Despite the motto “Time for Action,” the New York Times described it as “one of the worst outcomes in a quarter-century of climate negotiations.” Should we be surprised? Disappointed? Despairing? I believe that insufficient cuts in greenhouse gas emissions — …

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