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Tim Profeta

Director, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

919-613-8709

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Areas of Expertise: climate and energy, offsets, carbon markets, clean air act

Tim Profeta is the director of Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Since 2005, the Nicholas Institute has grown into a major nonpartisan player in key environmental debates, serving both the public and private sectors with sound understanding of complex environmental issues.

Profeta’s areas of expertise include climate change and energy policy, the Clean Air Act, and adaptive use of current environmental laws to address evolving environmental challenges. His work at the Nicholas Institute has included numerous legislative and executive branch proposals to mitigate climate change, including providing Congressional testimony several times on his work at Duke University, developing multiple legislative proposals for cost containment and economic efficiency in greenhouse gas mitigation programs, and facilitating climate and energy policy design processes for several U.S. states.

Prior to his arrival at Duke, Profeta served as counsel for the environment to Sen. Joseph Lieberman. As Lieberman’s counsel, he was a principal architect of the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act of 2003. He also represented Lieberman in legislative negotiations pertaining to environmental and energy issues, as well as coordinating the senator’s energy and environmental portfolio during his runs for national office. Profeta has continued to build on his Washington experience to engage in the most pertinent debates surrounding climate change and energy.

In addition to his role at the Institute, Profeta serves as Chairman of the Board for 8 Rivers Capital, is a member of the Climate Action Reserve Board of Directors, and is a member of The American Law Institute. Profeta also holds an appointment as an Associate Professor of the Practice at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

Profeta earned a J.D., magna cum laude, and M.E.M. in Resource Ecology from Duke in 1997 and a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University in 1992.

Enhancing Compliance Flexibility under the Clean Power Plan: A Common Elements Approach to Capturing Low-Cost Emissions Reductions

As states and stakeholders evaluate compliance options under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, many recognize the potential economic benefits of market-based strategies. In some states, however, market approaches trigger administrative and political hurdles. A new policy brief by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions offers a compliance pathway that allows states to realize the advantages of multistate and market-based solutions without mandating either strategy. With the common elements approach, states develop individual-state plans to achieve their unique emissions targets and give power plant owners the option to participate in cross-state emissions markets. Power plant owners can transfer low-cost emissions reductions between states whose compliance plans share common elements--credits defined the same way and mechanisms to protect against double counting. The common elements approach offers the following benefits: (1) allows cross-state credit transfers without states negotiating a formal regional trading scheme, (2) leaves compliance choices to power companies, (3) builds on existing state and federal trading programs, and (4) maintains the traditional roles of state energy and environmental regulators.

Author(s): Jonas Monast, Tim Profeta, Jeremy Tarr, and Brian Murray

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Environmental Markets

Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

State Utility Regulation

State Policy

Policy Briefs

Assessing Carbon-Pricing Policy Options in the United States

Much of the focus of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been on the pursuit of policy mechanisms that will put a price on carbon. In the United States, such mechanisms have been established in several states and were the central feature of federal legislative proposals of the last decade. With the political failure of those proposals in 2009-2010, creation of a de novo carbon-pricing regime was given little attention—until recently. Calls for fiscal reform and an evolving regulatory setting (especially use of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases) might create political appetite for a new effort to pursue a carbon-pricing policy. To inform discussion, this paper identifies and assesses options for establishing a price on carbon in the United States.

Authors: Brian Murray, Tim Profeta, and Billy Pizer

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Carbon Tax

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

National

Working Papers

Regulating Greenhouse Gases Sector by Sector under the Clean Air Act: How Well Does the Electric-Generating Unit Experience Translate to Petroleum Refineries?

The Environmental Protection Agency is developing performance standards to limit CO2 emissions from the electric power sector, and refineries may one day face similar regulations. If so, some of the policies for regulating carbon emissions from electric-generating units might be translatable to a greenhouse gas (GHG) performance standard for refineries. However, differences between the electric power and petroleum refining industries may be substantial enough to warrant a re-examination of key regulatory decisions in the power plant rule. This policy brief identifies the key differences and highlights their possible significance for a GHG rulemaking for petroleum refineries under the Clean Air Act. A companion working paper—Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under Section 111(D) of the Clean Air Act: Implications for Petroleum Refineries—discusses the three major steps for rulemaking, policy design questions, potential responses, and their implications as well as examines options for tailoring discussions from power plant regulation, maximizing cost effectiveness, taking into account differences among refineries, and formatting regulation in a way that may best fit them.

Author(s): Kristie Beaudoin, Allison Donnelly, Sarah K. Adair, Brian Murray, William A. Pizer, Tim Profeta

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

Policy Briefs

Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under Section 111(D) of the Clean Air Act: Implications for Petroleum Refineries

The Environmental Protection Agency is developing performance standards to limit CO2 emissions from the electric power sector, and refineries may one day face similar regulations. This paper describes the structure of the refining industry as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed authority to regulate the industry’s emissions under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. It discusses the three major steps for rulemaking, policy design questions that arise at each step, potential responses, and implications for environmental outcomes, equity, and cost effectiveness. The paper concludes by highlighting key considerations for refineries, including options for tailoring discussions from power plant regulation, maximizing cost effectiveness, taking into account differences among refineries, and—given the industry’s characteristics—formatting regulation in a way that may best fit them. A companion policy brief—Regulating Greenhouse Gases Sector by Sector under the Clean Air Act: How Well Does the Electric-Generating Unit Experience Translate to Petroleum Refineries?—highlights differences between the electric power industry and the petroleum refinery industry and highlights their significance for rulemaking for the latter.

Author(s): Allison Donnelly, Kristie Beaudoin, Sarah K. Adair, Brian Murray, William A. Pizer, Tim Profeta

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Working Papers

Sarah Adair

Senior Policy Associate

919-684-1114

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Areas of Expertise: Clean Air Act, clean energy technology, environmental policy, electricity policy

Sarah Adair is a senior policy associate at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions where she focuses on the intersection of energy and environmental policy, especially in the electricity sector.  

Sarah works closely with state environmental regulators and utility commissioners on the intersection of energy and environmental planning, including state options under the Clean Air Act and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. Since joining the Nicholas Institute in 2011, her work on the Clean Power Plan, shale gas development, and innovation in the electricity sector has been featured in publications such as Energy Policy, Environmental Law Reporter, the Hastings Law Review, the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum, and Public Utilities Fortnightly.  

Prior to joining the Nicholas Institute, Sarah held positions with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Impact Initiative, the Biodiversity Project (now Bluestem Communications), and the Chicago Sustainable Business Association. Sarah holds a master of environmental management degree from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. 

Cost Distribution Impacts of Clean Power Plan Compliance Pathways

Under the Clean Power Plan, different utilities and power producers are likely to be in different positions: some will benefit from the rule, and others will face high compliance costs. This cost distribution may lead to monetary transfers—redistributions of money, income, or value from one party to another that are not necessarily driven by a change in the corresponding cost of production—among utilities and other power producers, between generators and consumers, and among consumers of different utilities. The regulatory system for each state’s electric utilities and the strength of regional electricity markets will play a major role in determining how the cost distribution and potential transfers play out, especially for ratepayers. This policy brief explores the cost distribution impacts for electricity producers of rate-based and mass-based compliance, respectively. It also considers how wholesale markets may mediate these producer impacts of rate- and mass-based compliance. It then turns to the implications for electricity consumers under various market and regulatory structures. Finally, it identifies opportunities to address distributional impacts if states wish to do so. It finds that states adopting a mass-based compliance approach can use allowance allocation to largely control monetary transfers within a state. States adopting a rate-based compliance approach lack this direct control mechanism.

Authors: David Hoppock and Sarah Adair

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Policy Briefs

The Clean Power Plan and Electricity Demand: Considering Load Growth in a Carbon-Constrained Economy

Release of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) marks a significant moment in U.S. climate policy, but a host of economic, technological, and regulatory factors are also driving significant change in the electricity sector, complicating state regulatory decision making. Ensuring access to reliable and affordable electricity while protecting public health is a central goal of state regulation of electric utilities. Thus, expectations about the future of the electricity sector in general, and the future of electricity demand and emissions trajectories in particular, will likely play an important role in state CPP decisions. This policy brief discusses load growth—rising electricity demand—in the context of CPP design choices and demonstrates that it may occur under either a rate-based or mass-based approach. Following a brief overview of the Clean Power Plan and state choices, including rate-based and mass-based performance standards, it summarizes recent trends in load growth and carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. electricity sector, showing how electricity demand growth in the United States has been low for more than a decade while the carbon intensity of electricity generation has declined. It then explores how both rate-based and mass-based plans can accommodate load growth and future emissions. Although no CPP approach limits electricity generation growth to meet new demand, rate-based approaches and mass-based approaches that cover only existing sources also allow emissions from new sources to increase. Mass-based plans that cover new sources would not limit electricity generation growth, but they would limit emissions from all covered sources.

Authors: Sarah Adair, Christina Reichert, Julie DeMeester, and David Hoppock
 

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

State Utility Regulation

Environmental Economics

State Policy

Policy Briefs

New Sources and the Clean Power Plan: Considerations for Mass-Based Plans

On August 3, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first national greenhouse gas regulations for fossil fuel-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act. The regulations comprise separate rules for new and existing sources. The rule for existing sources, called the Clean Power Plan, requires states to develop plans and implement performance standards that reflect rate-based (pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour of generation) or mass-based (total tons of CO2 from covered sources) emissions guidelines established by the EPA. For states considering mass-based plans, whether to cover emissions from new units that are also subject to the new source standards is a threshold question. For any state that elects to cover new sources, the EPA provides a presumptively approvable additional emissions budget—or “new source complement.” This policy brief explores the implications of including or excluding new sources in mass-based state plans. It considers factors such as expected load growth, whether the choice to include or exclude new units affects the generation mix between new and existing units, and the corresponding requirement to address the risk that emissions could shift from existing sources to new sources—so-called leakage—in a state plan that covers only existing units. The brief concludes that states may face a tradeoff in their decision to include or exclude new sources—a finding based on three factors. First, covering new sources may make it harder or easier to comply, depending on assumptions about future electricity demand and the resources that will meet that demand. Second, covering new sources would provide a consistent economic signal to existing and new sources with a similar emissions profile. In contrast, excluding new sources may lead to power market distortions. Third, covering new sources would improve the environmental integrity of the program by eliminating the risk of leakage.

Authors: Sarah Adair and David Hoppock

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Policy Briefs

Clean Power Plan: Understanding and Evaluating the Proposed Federal Plan and Model Rules

On August 3, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized carbon dioxide (CO2) emission guidelines for two categories of existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. The final rule, referred to as the Clean Power Plan, requires each state to develop its own plan that applies equivalent standards of performance to affected units. If a state fails to submit an adequate plan, the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to develop and implement a federal plan for the state. In a separate action, the EPA proposed mass- and rate-based versions of a federal plan as well as mass- and rate-based model rules, which states could choose to adopt or to adapt by substituting their own provisions subject to EPA approval. The proposed model rules are similar to but more flexible than the federal plan proposals. This article in the Environmental Law Reporter summarizes the final Clean Power Plan rule, describes the mass- and rate-based proposed federal plans, identifies areas in which the model rules differ, highlights key issues for states and other stakeholders as they evaluate the tradeoffs between plan pathways, and discusses the EPA’s timeline for finalizing the federal plan and model rules.

Authors: Julie DeMeester and Sarah Adair

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Journal Articles

Danielle Baldwin joined Duke University as a website administrator in June 2016, supporting both the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and Interdisciplinary Studies. Danielle is a key member of these communications teams and assists in conceptualizing and carrying out marketing and communication strategies by enhancing both organizations’ websites, databases, and other online media and communication tools. Prior to joining Duke, Danielle worked at Cotton, Inc. as a PHP/WordPress developer and as chief product officer for Colorstock, Inc.

Michelle Bergin

Michelle Bergin

Senior Policy Associate, Climate and Energy Program

919-613-4361

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Areas of Expertise: air quality and climate, emissions, computational modeling, atmospheric policy, variability and uncertainty, energy and fuels

Michelle Bergin is a senior policy associate with the Climate and Energy Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Bergin is interested in applying engineering tools and analysis to incorporate current and emerging science and technology to support effective, efficient environmental policy decision making. Her areas of expertise include computational modeling, emissions source characterization, and control strategy analysis, including evaluation of uncertainty and variability. Her work has largely focused on the transportation and power sectors.

Bergin came to the Nicholas Institute from the Air Protection Branch of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, where she worked on topics related to air quality and climate change, including the atmospheric impacts of freight transport and of power generation.  While there she developed a state railroad program, which included bringing low-emission locomotives to Georgia railyards and co-chairing a 27-state effort resulting in the development of a nationwide railroad emissions inventory.  She also provided analysis for state implementation plans and for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan (section 111(d)) that requires reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Bergin previously worked at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems, addressing potential atmospheric impacts of alternative transportation fuels.

Bergin holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and a master’s and doctorate degree in environmental engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Air Quality Impacts and Health-Benefit Valuation of a Low-Emission Technology for Rail Yard Locomotives in Atlanta, Georgia

One of the largest railyard facilities in the southeastern United States is located in the densely populated northwestern section of Atlanta, Georgia, near other industries, schools, and dwellings. It is a significant source of fine particulates (PM2.5) and black carbon (BC). This article in Science of the Total Environment calculates 2011 PM2.5 and BC emissions from the yard and from primary industrial and on-road mobile sources in the area and determines their impact on local air quality using Gaussian dispersion modeling. It also determines the change in PM2.5 and BC concentrations that could be accomplished by transitioning the yard's traditional switcher locomotives to lower-emitting technology. The study finds that the potential reduction in these concentrations facilitates attainment of the PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards in the area and that, based on Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP) modeling, resulting health benefits would surpass conversion costs by approximately 140 million dollars over 10 years.

Authors: Boris Galvis, Michael Bergin, James Boylan, Yan Huang, Michelle Bergin, and Armistead G. Russell

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Climate and Energy

Journal Articles

Emerson Beyer

Associate Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations

919-613-7473

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K. Emerson Beyer serves as Associate Director for Corporate and Foundation Relations. He is responsible for helping Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions develop its strategies and capacities in partnership with donor organizations and other stakeholders. 

Prior to joining the Nicholas Institute, Beyer was an institutional giving office officer at the Environmental Defense Fund. In addition to grant development and fundraising, Emerson has trained and consulted to public and private grant makers. He holds a master's degree in arts administration and policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has completed additional graduate work in psychoanalytic study of organizations.

Gordon Binder

Senior Fellow (non-resident)

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Gordon Binder is a senior fellow (non-resident) at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. He also serves as a senior fellow at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington, DC. At WWF, Binder has worked on a variety of projects, including a communications audit and an effort to refine terms of reference for the National Council. 

Previously, Binder served as chief of staff to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Reilly under President George H.W. Bush, where he was responsible for a range of activities in support of the administrator. Binder continues to work closely with former EPA Administrator William Reilly. From 1996 to 2006, Binder worked for Aqua International Partners, a private equity investment fund in the water sector in developing countries organized by Reilly. From 1974 to 1989, Binder was assistant to the president at The Conservation Foundation and WWF, which he joined in 1985. Prior to this, he worked at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Task Force on Land Use and Urban Growth, which produced the 1973 report, The Use of Land:  A Citizens' Policy Guide to Urban Growth, still considered one of the seminal reports on the subject.

He serves as a consultant to  the Aspen Institute’s Congressional Program, the National Environmental Education Foundation, Partners for Livable Communities, and the Outdoor Resources Review Group. Binder also served as an expert advisor to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Oil Spill, responsible for coordinating many facets of the final report release, and as a consultant to the American Farmland Trust's program to protect agricultural lands in rapidly growing communities.

Binder holds architecture degrees from the University of Michigan and was a Loeb Fellow in Advanced Environmental Studies at Harvard University during 1979-80. 

David Bjorkback is a staff assistant at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, where he supports Water Policy Program director Martin Doyle and Ocean and Coastal Policy Program director John Virdin. He is an administrative professional with experience in event planning, staff training, coordinating projects, schedules, and metrics. 

Megan Boyle

Corporate and Foundation Officer

919-681-1615

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Megan serves as corporate and foundation officer. She is responsible for identifying and developing prospect strategy, and moving the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' new and existing foundation and corporate relationships forward.

Prior to joining the Nicholas Institute, Megan worked in Duke University Development’s Office of Foundation Relations where she conducted prospect research on corporate and foundation funders for research projects and initiatives across the University. She has previous fundraising, marketing and communications experience at Duke Medicine, Clean Energy Durham, and Northwestern University. Megan started her career working for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, staffing a governor-appointed council that oversaw new freshwater legislation. She holds a bachelor's degree in environmental studies from the College of St. Benedict and a master's degree in public policy and administration from Northwestern University in Chicago.

Martin Doyle

Director, Water Policy Program

919-613-8026

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Areas of Expertise: geomorphology, ecology, environmental policy, hydrology

Martin Doyle is director of the Water Policy Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and a professor of river science and policy at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. He will be on leave from Duke University for 2016 while he serves as Senior Conservation Finance Fellow at the Department of Interior’s Natural Resources Investment Center. 

His research is at the interface of science, economics and policy of river management and restoration. His background is in hydraulics and sediment transport in rivers, but he also works on river infrastructure, including decommissioning dams and levees, as well as research on financing rehabilitation of aging hydropower dams and the impacts of infrastructure on river ecosystems across the United States. He holds a Ph.D. in earth science from Purdue University, and a master's degree in engineering from the University of Mississippi. His research has resulted in several awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship (2009), a National Science Foundation Early Career Award (2005), the Nystrom Award from the Association of American Geographers (2004), the Horton Grant from the American Geophysical Union (2001), and the Chorafas Prize from the Chorafas Foundation in Switzerland (2002). For his work in bridging environmental science and policy, in 2009 was named the inaugural Frederick J. Clarke Scholar by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 2008 Doyle was named an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow by Stanford University, and received a GlaxoSmithKline Faculty Fellowship for Public Policy from the Institute for Emerging Issues.

Data Intelligence for 21st Century Water Management

The 2015 Aspen-Nicholas Water Forum, brought together a select group of water experts to explore water and big data to understand how the emergence of large, but dispersed, amounts of data in the water sector can best be utilized to improve the management and delivery of water for a more sustainable future. Understanding what water data we have, how we collect it, and how to standardize and integrate it may well be a prerequisite to taking action to address a wide range of water challenges. The report from the 2015 forum captures ideas and sentiments expressed by the group and concludes with five points: The rise of big data and new measurement technologies can transform the way that water is managed in the coming decades; However, water data must be synthesized more rapidly than government agencies’ current pace of analysis; A national water data policy is needed that standarizes data integration and storage for more effective water management across sectors; Overcoming privacy constraints would help to maximize the potential of water data; and Accurate assessments of water risk require better matched data sources and data analytics at the individual site level.  

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Aspen-Nicholas Institute Water Forum

Water Policy

Reports

The Morphology of Streams Restored for Market and Nonmarket Purposes: Insights from a Mixed Natural-Social Science Approach

This analysis uses geomorphic surveys to quantify the differences between restored and nonrestored streams as well as the differences between streams restored for market purposes (compensatory mitigation) and those restored for nonmarket programs. In addition, it examines the social and political-economic drivers of the stream restoration and mitigation industry using policy documents and interviews with key personnel, including regulators, mitigation bankers, stream designers, and scientists. Among the findings: Restored streams are typically wider and geomorphically more homogenous than nonrestored streams. Streams restored for the mitigation market are typically headwater streams and are part of a large complex of long restored main channels and many restored tributaries; streams restored for nonmarket purposes are typically shorter and consist of the main channel only. Interviews reveal that designers integrate many influences, including economic and regulatory constraints, but traditions of practice have a large influence as well. Thus, social forces shape the morphology of restored streams.

Authors: Martin W. Doyle, Jai Singh, Rebecca Lave, and Morgan W. Robertson

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Wetland and Stream Mitigation

Journal Articles

Reservoir Sedimentation and Storage Capacity in the United States: Management Needs for the 21st Century

The United States federal government invested significant resources to build dams in the mid-twentieth century to increase water storage capacity nationwide; while only 5% of the dams in the United States are federally owned, they account for 61% of the total national storage capacity. Society is increasingly dependent on reservoir storage capacity due to increased water demand, increased population growth on floodplains protected by flood control dams, or increased demand on hydropower as a critical part of the electricity grid. Simultaneously, reservoir sedimentation diminishes storage capacity. Thus, there is a persistent chronic loss of the very resource upon which many aspects of modern society depend. Not measuring, assessing, and managing this resource undervalues it, and also perpetuates ignorance of threats to existing beneficiaries as well as obscuring opportunities for additional benefits. In order to most efficiently use the nation’s increasingly scarce reservoir storage capacity, the authors propose three modest actions for the hydraulic engineering community in the Journal of Hydraulic Engineering: expand nationwide reservoir sedementation surveys, supplement RESSED with initial planned sedimentation rates, and share responsibility for building reservoir sedimentation knowledge. 

Author(s): Charles Podolak, Martin Doyle

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Reservoir

Journal Articles

Why Water Markets Are Not Quick Fixes for Droughts in the Western United States

Because of the peculiar nature of water rights, we should look to market-based transactions as an economically efficient way to reallocate scarce water resources. Nevertheless, because of the need to untangle the hydrologic interconnectedness of water rights and the institutional connectedness of irrigators and delivery institutions in the West, transfers of water will always be expensive and time consuming. Whether municipalities purchase water from farmers and thus bear the transaction costs directly, or the private sector purchases agricultural water, bears the associated risk and transaction costs, and sells it on to municipalities, end users will inevitably pay higher prices for water. Droughts can focus public attention on the value of water and potentially increase willingness-to-pay prices that reflect the transaction costs of tangled western water markets.

Authors: Charles J.P. Podolak and Martin Doyle

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Water Policy

Allocation

Working Papers

Alison Eagle

Policy Associate, Ecosystem Services Program

919-660-5761

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Areas of Expertise: ecosystem services, agriculture, water quality

Alison Eagle re-joined the Ecosystem Services Program at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions in May 2014, having served as research director for the Technical Working Group on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (T-AGG) from 2009 to 2011. Her research interests include economic and policy issues related to agricultural land management, especially addressing the environmental implications of crop and livestock production. Recent research has involved the study of policy and economic instruments that can be used to increase the provision of ecosystem services such as biodiversity and water quality.

At the intersection of agronomic sciences and economics, her current work synthesizes and models the environmental impacts of improved fertilizer management for ready application in policy or private markets. Alison holds a Ph.D. from Wageningen University (Netherlands) in agricultural economics and rural policy, a master’s degree from the University of California-Davis, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alberta.

Agricultural Support Policy in Canada: What Are the Environmental Consequences?

This paper reviews annual government spending on Canadian agriculture that attempts to stabilize and enhance farm incomes. Since 2010, two-thirds of the $3 billion spent on agriculture went into stabilization programs to support farm incomes. This level of support raises questions about the environmental consequences of enhanced agricultural production. Canadian government expenditures on environmental initiatives in agriculture, as a share of farm income, are more than 10 times smaller than those in the United States and the European Union. Canadian stabilization programs have modest impacts on production, but chemical and fertilizer input use may be higher than in the programs' absence. One possible course of action is to introduce cross-compliance between program payments and environmental objectives. However, there are no requirements that Canadian producers receiving support comply with environmental standards. Although cross-compliance could be considered in the Canadian context, policies that directly target specific environmental issues in agriculture may have greater impact.

Authors: Alison Eagle, James Rude, and Peter Boxall

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Ecosystem Services

Land

Journal Articles

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation with Agricultural Land Management Activities in the United States—A Side-by-Side Comparison of Biophysical Potential

Responsible for 6% of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) production, agricultural land use has significant potential to reduce these emissions and capture additional carbon in the soil. Many different activities have been proposed for such mitigation, but assessments of the biophysical potential have been limited and have not provided direct comparison among the many options. We present an in-depth review of the scientific literature, with a side-by-side comparison of net biophysical GHG mitigation potential for 42 different agricultural land management activities in the United States, many of which are likely applicable in other regions. Twenty of these activities are likely to be beneficial for GHG mitigation and have sufficient research to support this conclusion. Limited research leads to uncertainty for 15 other activities that may have positive mitigation potential, and the remaining activities have small or negative GHG mitigation potential or life-cycle GHG concerns. While we have sufficient information to move forward in implementing a number of activities, there are some high-priority research needs that will help clarify problematic uncertainties.

Author(s): Alison J. Eagle, Lydia P. Olander

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Climate and Energy

Ecosystem Services

Land

T-AGG

T-AGG Crop

Journal Articles

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Potential of Agricultural Land Management in the United States: A Synthesis of the Literature (Third Edition)

This document, now in its third edition, is a comparision report to the T-AGG report Assessing Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities and Implementation Strategies for Agricultural Land Management in the United States. The third edition updates the side-by-side comparision of the biophysical greenhouse gas mitigation potential of 42 agricultural land management activities with newly available and previously unincluded data from field experiments, modeling, and expert review. Activities with sufficient research estimates of mitigation potential are now all derived from original individual data points of side-by-side experiments (previous editions included expert and modeling estimates and applied different weighting factors).

Author(s): Alison J. Eagle, Lydia P. Olander, Lucy R. Henry, Karen Haugen-Kozyra, Neville Millar, and G. Philip Robertson

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Climate and Energy

Ecosystem Services

Land

T-AGG

T-AGG Crop

Reports

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities for Agricultural Land Management in the United States

A number of on-farm management practices can help to reduce U.S. agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and generate significant increases in carbon sequestration. This brief summarizes the mitigation potential and the state of scientific knowledge for a wide range of agricultural practices in the United States and highlights key issues for implementing programs to incentivize GHG mitigation in agriculture.

Author(s): Lydia P. Olander and Alison J. Eagle

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Ecosystem Services

T-AGG

T-AGG Crop

Environmental Economics

Policy Briefs

Melissa Edeburn provides editorial and design support for communications at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Before joining the Nicholas Institute in July 2013, she was a communications project manager for Thinkshift Communications, communications coordinator for LEAN Energy, and managing editor at PoliPointPress, all in the Bay Area. A writer and editor, she has worked with think tanks and other organizations to translate the findings and highlight the policy relevance of academic research to a range of audiences.

 

Stephanie Evans

Financial Analyst

919-613-8017

Stephanie Evans joined Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions in April of 2007 as a Staff Accountant. Prior to joining Duke in 1999, she worked for over ten years in the accounting and financial industry.

Christopher Galik

Senior Policy Associate, Environmental Economics Program

919-681-7193

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Areas of Expertise: offsets, environmental economics, agriculture, forestry, climate policy, bioenergy, endangered species act

Christopher Galik is an senior policy associate at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. He is currently working to better document issues associated with on-the-ground implementation of climate and low-carbon energy policy. He continues to partner with researchers at North Carolina State University to investigate the forest resource implications of expanded renewable energy targets. He is likewise working with faculty at Duke and other universities to highlight the impact of existing regulations and offset protocol design on forest carbon offset supply. Christopher is increasingly devoting his efforts to exploring models of Endangered Species Act implementation and stakeholder engagement.

Prior to joining the Nicholas Institute, Christopher served as a research coordinator for the Climate Change Policy Partnership (CCPP), a collaborative project intended to leverage the resources of Duke to determine practical strategies to respond to climate change. Within the Partnership, Christopher had primary oversight over biological sequestration, bioenergy, and biofuels policy analysis and applied research activities. 

Before CCPP, Christopher spent several years in Washington, D.C. as a policy analyst, specializing in species conservation and federal forest management and policy. 

 
Ph.D. Forestry and Environmental Resources. North Carolina State University. 

Master of Environmental Management; Resource Economics and Policy. Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University. 

Bachelor of Arts; cum laude, Biology. Vassar College. 

Contributions of LiDAR to Ecosystem Service Planning and Markets: Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Investment

Municipalities are increasingly interested in using light detection and radar (LiDAR) technology to support a variety of markets, services, and planning processes. Consequently, they are contemplating how best to justify investments in improved data when not all of the investments’ costs and benefits are amenable to quantitative estimation. They are also contemplating who benefits from the investments and how to address any inequities in either costs or benefits. This paper reviews the drivers and co-benefits of expanded LiDAR data investment by local government entities and presents a case study of forest carbon markets in California to illuminate how this investment compares to investment in the acquisition of field sampling and other data. The study suggests that LiDAR can be cost-competitive with traditional field-sampling approaches under certain conditions or assumptions, and it may offer advantages and some benefits that may not accrue from field-based approaches. In addition, the study reinforces the conclusion of other research that conditions, approach, and assumptions strongly influence analysis outcomes, in turn reinforcing the need to tailor analyses to the research question at hand. Although the case study lends insight into the tools available for assessing the costs and benefits of LiDAR data acquisition, several uncertainties remain, including how LiDAR and other improved data fit into national policy dialogues and program funding discussions.

Author: Christopher S. Galik

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Ecosystem Services

Working Papers

Assessing County and Regional Habitat Conservation Plan Creation: What Contributes to Success?

Habitat conservation plans (HCPs) are a means for private landowners to comply with the Endangered Species Act. It has become increasingly common for county and regional governments to create region-wide HCPs that cover development from multiple projects in the entire region. Local governments recognize that these plans can increase economic certainty for residents, increase development, and potentially increase conservation. However, region-wide plans are time and resource intensive, and they sometimes are not completed. What factors and processes lead to the successful completion of an HCP at the regional and county level? This paper presents the results of five case studies on county or regional HCPs. It finds that several factors contribute to successful HCP creation: (1) a cooperative relationship between the county or region and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and between the local governing body and the USFWS; (2) local community and political involvement, especially early stakeholder engagement; (3) determination of the covered species by a scientific advisory committee or a consultant; (4) primary funding through USFWS Section 6 grants; and (5) utilization of the county or region’s own reserve lands to most efficiently use mitigation funds and provide the best species habitat. By identifying these factors that contribute to HCP success, this analysis allows stakeholders to anticipate needs and potential barriers, benefitting individuals with diverse interests in counties and regions where a large-scale HCP is possible.

Authors: Chelsea L. Baldino, Lydia P. Olander, and Christopher S. Galik

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Endangered Species Act

Ecosystem Services

Land

Working Papers

Meeting Renewable Energy and Land Use Objectives through Public–Private Biomass Supply Partnerships

This study in Applied Energy explores whether creation of localized bioenergy markets near existing military installations in the southeastern United States could address military renewable energy generation objectives while reducing urban encroachment. To stimulate creation of these markets, it models the use of public–private partnerships, pairing stable installation demand with stable supply from surrounding landowners. It employs the SubRegional Timber Supply (SRTS) model and the Forest and Agricultural Sector Model with Greenhouse Gases (FASOMGHG) to assess how markets influence forest and agriculture land use, renewable energy production, and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation at the regional and national levels. When all selected installations increase bioenergy capacity simultaneously, it finds increased preservation of forest land area, increased forest carbon storage in the region, and increased renewable energy generation at military installations. Nationally, however, carbon stocks are depleted as harvests increase, increasing GHG emissions even after accounting for potential displaced emissions from coal- or natural gas-fired generation. Increasing bioenergy generation on a single installation within the Southeast has very different effects on forest area and composition, yielding greater standing timber volume and higher forest carbon stock. In addition to demonstrating the benefits of linking two partial equilibrium models of varying solution technique, sectoral scope, and resource detail, results suggest that a tailored policy approach may be more effective in meeting local encroachment reduction and renewable energy generation objectives while avoiding negative GHG mitigation consequences.

Authors: Christopher S. Galik, Robert C. Abt, Gregory Latta, Andreanne Meley, and Jesse D. Henderson

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Environmental Economics

Energy Sector

Natural Resources

Modeling

Journal Articles

Researching a Reimagined ESA: The Continued Need and Opportunity for Voluntary Conservation

Since passage of the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) more than 40 years ago, federal agencies have sought to enhance the engagement of non-federal landowners and managers in recovery actions. An effort to design programs and policies to facilitate voluntary conservation activities under the ESA has been renewed, but the adoption and effectiveness of these activities could be diminished by the lack of data to address three issues. First, landowners and land managers must be motivated to participate in pre-listing and voluntary conservation and to do so at the scale necessary to achieve conservation outcomes. Second, activities need to be effective in promoting conservation. Third, laws and administrative processes must accommodate or facilitate desired approaches. This working paper identifies data needs in each of these three areas, reviews experience with existing voluntary conservation approaches under the ESA, and recommends research and implementation strategies to make voluntary conservation approaches more widespread.

Authors: Christopher S. Galik, Jacob P. Byl, Christian Langpap, and Michael G. Sorice

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Endangered Species Act

Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

Working Papers

Kim Gordon

Co-Director, Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum

831-747-2199

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Areas of Expertise: fisheries managment

Kim Gordon is co-director of the Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. She has worked with the Fisheries Forum staff since 2009, and oversees the strategic and operational aspects of the organization, as well as the development of research projects, forums and collaborations in support of the federal fisheries management process. 

Kim’s recent work has focused on innovative management approaches, including adaptive management, co-management and cooperative research, council process and operations, habitat considerations, and risk and uncertainty. 

Kim received her bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and a master’s degree in coastal environmental policy from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

Building Capacity for Risk-based Management and Management Strategy Evaluation in U.S. Federal Fisheries: Discussion from the East Coast Forum, May 7–8, 2015, Beaufort, NC

The 2015 East Coast Forum convened by the Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum (Fisheries Forum) explored opportunities for federal fishery managers to support effective treatment of uncertainty and risk through risk-based management approaches and management strategy evaluation. The success of federal fishery management plans requires managers to communicate effectively about uncertainty and risk and to make decisions that perform well under conditions of uncertainty and environmental change. By understanding and accounting for limitations on the information that supports decision making, fishery managers can make decisions that are likely to meet management objectives and that reflect an explicit risk tolerance. The Fisheries Forum convenes a series of forums for council members, council staff, and NOAA Fisheries staff. Each forum focuses on a topic with regional and national relevance. The forums are a unique opportunity for managers to explore emerging issues and questions and to share ideas and information across management regions.

Authors: Katie Latanich, Kim Gordon, and Caitlin Hamer

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Fisheries

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Fisheries

Proceedings

Caroline Gorham is a staff specialist at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, where she supports Climate and Energy Program Director Jonas Monast and State Policy Program Director Amy Pickle. She is a Miami, Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida. She completed her bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2008 and has since worked in public service, with a private start-up in the legal industry, and in a large corporate setting. 

Etan Gumerman

Senior Policy Associate, Environmental Economics Program

919-613-8748

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Areas of Expertise: environmental economics, climate and energy, electricity policy, systems modeling, economics, offsets, carbon markets

Etan Gumerman is a senior policy associate at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. At the Nicholas Institute, he has led several energy and climate policy research projects. His recent works includes assessing cost-effective energy efficiency potential in the South. Previously,  he led the Nicholas Institute's emissions and reduction analysis for the state of Utah, based on Utah's Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Climate Change (BRAC) recommendations to the Governor. 

Etan’s background is in engineering and policy with considerable experience in modeling. Before joining the Nicholas Institute, he was involved with a wide range of energy and climate change policy projects. At Lawrence Berkeley National Lab he was the lead modeler and analyst for the Scenarios for a Clean Energy Future project, coordinating the efforts of scientists at five national laboratories.

He has investigated appliance standards’ effects on energy, load shapes, peak effects, and emissions. He has worked with California’s Air Resources Board evaluating the effectiveness of California’s Smog Check program.

 

M.S. in Engineering and Policy, Washington University, May 1995

B.A. in Environmental Studies, University of Pennsylvania, December 1991

Implications of Clean Air Act Section 111(d) Compliance for North Carolina

Since the mid-2000s, North Carolina has increased natural gas generation, reduced coal dependence, established a renewable energy and energy-efficiency portfolio standard, and taken other actions that will assist it in meeting new carbon emissions targets under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) promulgated under Clean Air Act (CAA) section 111(d). The CPP, as proposed, assigns state-specific emissions rate targets for existing fossil-fueled generators—targets adjusted for levels of renewable generation and energy efficiency measures. This analysis examines possible implications of meeting proposed CPP targets in North Carolina. To achieve those targets, North Carolina will increasingly shift from coal-fired to natural gas-fired electricity generation, incurring a modest rise in resource costs but creating a potentially significant revenue stream, which policy makers must decide how to allocate. Although the CPP will likely drive down overall emissions in North Carolina, the reductions are smaller than might be expected because North Carolina has already made headway in meeting its emissions targets and because new natural gas generation that is not covered under the 111(d) mass-based target will likely be a component of compliance. Alternative compliance measures, such as specific zero-carbon (e.g., nuclear and solar) investments and increased energy efficiency, reduce future natural gas dependence and hedge against natural gas price risk, though potentially at a cost higher than market-based compliance.

Authors: Etan Gumerman, David Hoppock, and Dennis Bartlett

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Reports

Customer-Side Clean Energy in the Southeast: Opportunities for Combined Heat and Power, Solar Water Heating

Previous analysis by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Georgia Institute of Technology demonstrates how aggressive energy-efficiency policies in the South could reduce the need for new electric generation over the next 20 years, reduce water consumption, moderate projected electricity-rate increases, and create jobs. This new report builds on this work, and focuses on current clean energy opportunities within existing economic and policy constraints. Specifically, it explores two technologies: combined heat and power and solar water heating. Through four case studies, it highlights how Southeastern project managers have navigated a variety of economic, policy, and informational barriers to develop successful customer-owned clean energy installations, and offers some of the lessons these developers have learned along the way.

Author(s): Etan Gumerman, Amy Morsch, Sarah Plikunas, and Ken Sercy

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Climate and Energy

Southeast Climate

State Policy

Reports

Solar Water Heating in the Southeast: Identifying Commercial and Institutional Opportunities

Solar water heating uses energy from the sun to preheat water, reducing the conventional energy needed to supply hot water by 40 to 80 percent. This reduces energy costs and provides a number of other benefits. This case study examines two successful solar water heating applications in the Southeast, at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and at the Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park.

Author(s): Etan Gumerman, Amy Morsch, Sarah Plikunas, Kenneth Sercy, and Whitney Ketchum

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Climate and Energy

Southeast Climate

Case Studies

Combined Heat and Power in the Southeast: Identifying Commercial and Institutional Opportunities

Combined heat and power (CHP) maximizes the usable energy from a fuel source by simultaneously generating thermal and electric outputs. CHP can achieve operating efficiencies of up to 80%, compared to the 45% efficiency typically achieved by conventional energy production. This case study examines two successful CHP applications in the Southeast: one at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and one at the R.M. Clayton Wastewater Treatment Plant in Atlanta, Georgia.

Author(s): Etan Gumerman, Amy Morsch, Sarah Plikunas, Kenneth Sercy, and Whitney Ketchum

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Climate and Energy

Southeast Climate

Case Studies

Caitlin Hamer

Policy Associate, Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum

252-504-7631

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Areas of Expertise: fisheries management, oceans and coasts, environmental education

Based at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, Caitlin Hamer is a policy analyst for the Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Caitlin joined the Fisheries Forum staff in 2013, and helps oversee the growth and development of the Fisheries Forum Information Network and the online community it serves. Caitlin also provides research and event support for a broad range of Fisheries Forum projects. Prior to joining the Fisheries Forum, Caitlin worked as a biologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at the Grand Isle Fisheries Research Laboratory. She was chief scientist for the Nearshore Bottom Longline Project and assisted the Louisiana state representative on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council on state and federal management projects.

Caitlin received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of New Hampshire, and completed her master’s degree in coastal environmental management at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

 

Building Capacity for Risk-based Management and Management Strategy Evaluation in U.S. Federal Fisheries: Discussion from the East Coast Forum, May 7–8, 2015, Beaufort, NC

The 2015 East Coast Forum convened by the Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum (Fisheries Forum) explored opportunities for federal fishery managers to support effective treatment of uncertainty and risk through risk-based management approaches and management strategy evaluation. The success of federal fishery management plans requires managers to communicate effectively about uncertainty and risk and to make decisions that perform well under conditions of uncertainty and environmental change. By understanding and accounting for limitations on the information that supports decision making, fishery managers can make decisions that are likely to meet management objectives and that reflect an explicit risk tolerance. The Fisheries Forum convenes a series of forums for council members, council staff, and NOAA Fisheries staff. Each forum focuses on a topic with regional and national relevance. The forums are a unique opportunity for managers to explore emerging issues and questions and to share ideas and information across management regions.

Authors: Katie Latanich, Kim Gordon, and Caitlin Hamer

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Fisheries

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Fisheries

Proceedings

Bill Holman

Senior Fellow (non-resident)

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Areas of Expertise: State Policy, North Carolina, state and local governments, water, climate adaptation, green infrastructure

Bill Holman is a senior fellow (non-resident) at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. He also serves North Carolina State Director of The Conservation Fund, a position he has held since January 2013. From 2007 through 2012, he served as director of the State Policy Program at the Nicholas Institute, where he worked on state water allocation policy, water infrastructure financing, green infrastructure, planning for and adapting to climate change, and state energy policy. 

Previously, Holman served as North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt's Secretary of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources 1999-2000 and as an Assistant Secretary 1998-1999. As a lobbyist for state and national environmental and conservation groups between 1979 and 1997, Holman is credited with helping to pass the 1997 Clean Water Responsibility Act of 1997, the Brownfields Cleanup Act of 1997, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund Act, the 1989 Watershed Protection Act, and numerous other North Carolina environmental bills. Legislators, lobbyists and news reporters ranked him as one of the top 10 most effective lobbyists in the NC General Assembly from 1985 to 1997. Holman has received many awards, including 1999 Conservationist of the Year from the NC Wildlife Federation and 1998 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Award from North Carolina State University. In 2000, Governor Hunt awarded Holman one of the state's highest civilian honors, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Holman graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina State University in 1978 with a degree in Biology. 

David Hoppock

Senior Policy Associate, Climate and Energy Program

925-708-8577

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Areas of Expertise: electricity policy, climate and energy, natural gas, markets, energy efficiency, systems modeling

David Hoppock is a senior policy Associate with Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions where he focuses on decision making under uncertainty in the electricity sector.

David works closely with state utility commissioners and environmental regulators on consumer protection issues, providing economic modeling of the electricity sector to help states explore compliance options under the proposed Clean Power Plan with focus on multistate coordination, cost impacts of multistate coordination and how the Clean Power Plan interacts with other trends in the industry. His work also examines other electric utility environmental regulations and utility regulation under uncertainty. Through a partnership with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, David has helped regulators weigh tradeoffs as it pertains to risk assessment and investment decision making under uncertainty through a series of hands on trainings and materials available online.   

David holds a master of public affairs degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He received his bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.

Ongoing Evolution of the Electricity Industry: Effects of Market Conditions and the Clean Power Plan on States

The electricity industry is evolving as changes in natural gas and coal prices, along with environmental regulations, dramatically shift the generation mix. Future trends in gas prices and costs of renewables are likely to continue moving the industry away from coal-fired generation and into lower-emitting sources such as natural gas and renewables. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) is likely to amplify these trends. The CPP rule regulates emissions from existing fossil generators and allows states to choose among an array of rate-based and mass-based goals. The analysis in this paper uses the electricity-dispatch component of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model to evaluate electricity industry trends and CPP impacts on the U.S. generation mix, emissions, and industry costs. Several coordinated approaches to the Clean Power Plan are considered, along with a range of uncoordinated “patchwork” choices by states. The model results indicate future industry trends are likely to make compliance with the Clean Power Plan relatively inexpensive; cost increases are likely to be on the order of 0.1% to 1.0%. Some external market conditions such as high gas prices could increase these costs, whereas low gas or renewables prices can achieve many of CPP goals without additional adjustments by the industry. However, policy costs can vary substantially across states, and may lead some of them to adopt a patchwork of policies that, although in their own best interests, could impose additional costs on neighboring states.

Authors: Martin T. Ross, David Hoppock, and Brian C. Murray

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Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Environmental Economics

State Policy

Working Papers

Cost Distribution Impacts of Clean Power Plan Compliance Pathways

Under the Clean Power Plan, different utilities and power producers are likely to be in different positions: some will benefit from the rule, and others will face high compliance costs. This cost distribution may lead to monetary transfers—redistributions of money, income, or value from one party to another that are not necessarily driven by a change in the corresponding cost of production—among utilities and other power producers, between generators and consumers, and among consumers of different utilities. The regulatory system for each state’s electric utilities and the strength of regional electricity markets will play a major role in determining how the cost distribution and potential transfers play out, especially for ratepayers. This policy brief explores the cost distribution impacts for electricity producers of rate-based and mass-based compliance, respectively. It also considers how wholesale markets may mediate these producer impacts of rate- and mass-based compliance. It then turns to the implications for electricity consumers under various market and regulatory structures. Finally, it identifies opportunities to address distributional impacts if states wish to do so. It finds that states adopting a mass-based compliance approach can use allowance allocation to largely control monetary transfers within a state. States adopting a rate-based compliance approach lack this direct control mechanism.

Authors: David Hoppock and Sarah Adair

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Policy Briefs

The Clean Power Plan and Electricity Demand: Considering Load Growth in a Carbon-Constrained Economy

Release of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) marks a significant moment in U.S. climate policy, but a host of economic, technological, and regulatory factors are also driving significant change in the electricity sector, complicating state regulatory decision making. Ensuring access to reliable and affordable electricity while protecting public health is a central goal of state regulation of electric utilities. Thus, expectations about the future of the electricity sector in general, and the future of electricity demand and emissions trajectories in particular, will likely play an important role in state CPP decisions. This policy brief discusses load growth—rising electricity demand—in the context of CPP design choices and demonstrates that it may occur under either a rate-based or mass-based approach. Following a brief overview of the Clean Power Plan and state choices, including rate-based and mass-based performance standards, it summarizes recent trends in load growth and carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. electricity sector, showing how electricity demand growth in the United States has been low for more than a decade while the carbon intensity of electricity generation has declined. It then explores how both rate-based and mass-based plans can accommodate load growth and future emissions. Although no CPP approach limits electricity generation growth to meet new demand, rate-based approaches and mass-based approaches that cover only existing sources also allow emissions from new sources to increase. Mass-based plans that cover new sources would not limit electricity generation growth, but they would limit emissions from all covered sources.

Authors: Sarah Adair, Christina Reichert, Julie DeMeester, and David Hoppock
 

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

State Utility Regulation

Environmental Economics

State Policy

Policy Briefs

New Sources and the Clean Power Plan: Considerations for Mass-Based Plans

On August 3, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first national greenhouse gas regulations for fossil fuel-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act. The regulations comprise separate rules for new and existing sources. The rule for existing sources, called the Clean Power Plan, requires states to develop plans and implement performance standards that reflect rate-based (pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour of generation) or mass-based (total tons of CO2 from covered sources) emissions guidelines established by the EPA. For states considering mass-based plans, whether to cover emissions from new units that are also subject to the new source standards is a threshold question. For any state that elects to cover new sources, the EPA provides a presumptively approvable additional emissions budget—or “new source complement.” This policy brief explores the implications of including or excluding new sources in mass-based state plans. It considers factors such as expected load growth, whether the choice to include or exclude new units affects the generation mix between new and existing units, and the corresponding requirement to address the risk that emissions could shift from existing sources to new sources—so-called leakage—in a state plan that covers only existing units. The brief concludes that states may face a tradeoff in their decision to include or exclude new sources—a finding based on three factors. First, covering new sources may make it harder or easier to comply, depending on assumptions about future electricity demand and the resources that will meet that demand. Second, covering new sources would provide a consistent economic signal to existing and new sources with a similar emissions profile. In contrast, excluding new sources may lead to power market distortions. Third, covering new sources would improve the environmental integrity of the program by eliminating the risk of leakage.

Authors: Sarah Adair and David Hoppock

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Policy Briefs

Kay Jowers

Senior Policy Associate, State Policy Program

919-660-0115

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Areas of Expertise: state policy, environmental inequality, environmental health, water quality, water resources, endangered species

Kay Jowers is a senior policy associate at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Her work focuses on analyzing state regulatory and policy approaches to addressing environmental issues.

Before joining the Nicholas Institute, Kay worked as an environmental attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center and the University of Denver’s Environmental Law Clinic. She is pursuing her doctorate in political and environmental sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She holds a J.D. with a concentration in environmental law from Tulane University Law School, a master's degree in environmental health sciences from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of South Carolina.

Environmental Justice Roundtable Report

This report from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Kenan Institute for Ethics summarizes discussion from a roundtable with experts from Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University and Research Triangle Institute that explored the multiple starting points for environmental justice research in the Triangle area.

Editor (s): Kay Jowers and Suzanne Katzenstein

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Environmental Justice

State Policy

Reports

The Most Important Current Research Questions in Urban Ecosystem Services

The urbanized world depends on ecosystem services--both inside and outside of city boundaries. Although investing in their provision will often be more cost-effective than response actions, such as treatment, restoration, and disaster response, ecosystem services do not play a prominent role in the formulation of urban policies, plans, and laws. In fact, many cities are experiencing declines of the ecosystems that sustain them. Halting and reversing these declines requires identification of pressing research needs in the area of urban ecosystem services. This article brings together the collective insights of lawyers, urban planners, ecologists, and economists on the most important research questions that should shape the future of scholarship in this area.

Author(s): James Salzman, Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold, Robert Garcia, Keith H. Hirokawa, Kay Jowers, Jeffrey LeJava, and Lydia P. Olander

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Ecosystem Services

Land

Urban Policy and Planning

National

Journal Articles

Katie Latanich

Co-Director, Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum

252-504-7642

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Areas of Expertise: fisheries management

Katie Latanich is co-director of the Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. She has worked with the Fisheries Forum staff since 2009, and oversees the strategic and operational aspects of the organization, as well as the development of research projects, forums and collaborations in support of the federal fisheries management process. 

Katie’s recent work has focused on recreational management objectives, climate change and governance, and the integration of habitat considerations into council decision-making. She also contributed to the development of the 2013 Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries three conference sessions on ecosystem-based management. Prior to joining the Fisheries Forum, Katie worked with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries as a port sampler.

Katie earned her bachelor's degree in environmental science and policy and political science from Duke University, and a master’s degree in coastal environmental policy from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

Building Capacity for Risk-based Management and Management Strategy Evaluation in U.S. Federal Fisheries: Discussion from the East Coast Forum, May 7–8, 2015, Beaufort, NC

The 2015 East Coast Forum convened by the Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum (Fisheries Forum) explored opportunities for federal fishery managers to support effective treatment of uncertainty and risk through risk-based management approaches and management strategy evaluation. The success of federal fishery management plans requires managers to communicate effectively about uncertainty and risk and to make decisions that perform well under conditions of uncertainty and environmental change. By understanding and accounting for limitations on the information that supports decision making, fishery managers can make decisions that are likely to meet management objectives and that reflect an explicit risk tolerance. The Fisheries Forum convenes a series of forums for council members, council staff, and NOAA Fisheries staff. Each forum focuses on a topic with regional and national relevance. The forums are a unique opportunity for managers to explore emerging issues and questions and to share ideas and information across management regions.

Authors: Katie Latanich, Kim Gordon, and Caitlin Hamer

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Fisheries

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Fisheries

Proceedings

East Coast Forum Summary: Habitat Considerations

Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum staff published a final summary of discussions from the East Coast Fisheries Forum, June 26-29 in Annapolis, Maryland. This meeting convened federal fishery managers, scientists and National Marine Fisheries Service leadership to explore habitat conservation as a strategy for supporting sustainable fisheries.

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Fisheries

Adaptation

Quality

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Fisheries

Ecosystem Services

Marine

National

Working Papers

Katie Locklier

Policy Assistant, Ecosystem Services Program

919-613-4362

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Areas of Expertise: water science, GIS, ecosystem services

Katie Locklier joined the Ecosystem Services Program at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions after graduating from the Nicholas School for the Environment with a Master's degree in Environment Management in May 2014. Her interests revolve around utilizing relevant scientific knowledge to guide environmental policy decisions. Currently, her work at the Nicholas Institute focuses on supporting a variety of ecosystem services projects on the national level. 

Sara Mason

Senior Data Tech

919-684-1136

Areas of Expertise: biodiversity, land management, GIS

Sara Mason joined the Ecosystem Services Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions after graduating from Duke with a master’s degree in environmental management. Her work focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of biodiversity conservation and how that can be leveraged to engage public and policy makers in conservation efforts. Prior to joining the Nicholas Institute, Sara worked in ecological field research and endangered animal rehabilitation.

Sheri Matthews

Associate Director, Finance and Administration

919-613-8737

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Sheri Matthews serves as the associate director of finance and administration for Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. She is responsible for the oversight of administrative and financial management as well as grant administration of the Nicholas Institute. She holds both a bachelor's and a master's degree in business administration.

Peter McCornick

Senior Fellow (non-resident)

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Areas of Expertise: international water policy, water resources, climate adaptation

Peter McCornick is a senior fellow (non-resident) with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions water program. In this capacity he focuses on critical water resources management issues, with on-going activities in North East Africa, South East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the United States. He has approximately three decades of experience in addressing the challenges in the water resources, agriculture and environment sectors, that has included research, policy development, planning, implementation, teaching and capacity building. He has worked extensively in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North America, including long-term assignments in Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, Indonesia (Timor and Java), Jordan and Sri Lanka.  Much of this has been in a senior leadership role, working with decision makers in international, national and sub-national institutions in the public and private sector. 

He is currently Director for Asia for the International Water Management Institute. 

He has a Ph.D. and master's degree in water resources and irrigation engineering from Colorado State University, and a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the U.K.  He is a registered Civil Engineer in Colorado, and a member of the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers (AAWRE).  He has published widely on critical water issues. 

The Effect of Non-Fluoride Factors on Risk of Dental Fluorosis: Evidence from Rural Populations of the Main Ethiopian Rift

Elevated levels of fluoride in drinking water is a well-recognized risk factor of dental fluorosis. In this study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, authors found flouride to be strongly associated with dental fluorosis in a sample of over 1000 individuals living in several rural communities in the Ethiopia. Age, sex, SSSF, and milk consumption were found to correlate with dental fluorosis outcomes, both as independent factors and through modification of the effects of flouride. In addition, several other elements in water were significantly associated with dental health in the study area, suggesting the possibility that dental fluorosis may be related to multiple contaminant exposures. Additional research is warranted to more effectively isolate these effects, and to understand the mechanisms by which they operate.

Author (s): Julia Kravchenko, Tewodros Rango, Igor Akushevich, Behailu Atlaw, Peter G. McCornick, R. Brittany Merola, Christopher Paul, Erika Weinthal, Courtney Harrison, Avner Vengosh, Marc Jeuland

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Natural Resources

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Journal Articles

Groundwater Quality and Its Health Impact: An Assessment of Dental Fluorosis in Rural Inhabitants of the Main Ethiopian Rift

Increased intake of dietary calcium may be key to addressing widespread dental health problems faced by millions of rural residents in Ethiopia’s remote, poverty-stricken Main Rift Valley, according to a new Duke University-led study published in the journal Environment International. As many as 8 million people living in the valley are estimated to be at risk of dental and skeletal fluorosis as a result of their long-term exposure to high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in the region’s groundwater. Most efforts to combat fluorosis in the region have focused primarily on treating drinking water to reduce its fluoride content. Increasing the amount of calcium in villagers’ diets, or finding alternative sources of drinking water may be necessary in addition to these fluoride-reducing treatments, the study found. Support came from the Duke Global Health Institute and Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Author(s): Tewodros Rango, Julia Kravchenko, Behailu Atlaw, Peter G. McCornick, Marc Jeuland, Brittany Merola, Avner Vengosh

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Water Policy

Quality

International

Journal Articles

Freshwater, Climate Change and Adaptation in the Ganges River Basin

Climate change is one of the drivers of change in the Ganges river basin, together with population growth, economic development and water management practices. These changing circumstances have a significant impact on key social and economic sectors of the basin, largely through changes in water quantity, quality and timing of availability. This paper evaluates the impact of water on changing circumstances in three sectors of the Ganges basin: agriculture, ecosystems and energy. Given the inherent interconnectedness of these core sectors and the cross-cutting impact of changing circumstances on water resources, we argue that adaptation should not be viewed as a separate initiative, but rather as a goal and perspective incorporated into every level of planning and decision making. Adaptation to changing circumstances will need to be closely linked to water resource management and will require significant collaboration across the sectors.

Author(s): Heather R. Hosterman, Peter G. McCornick, Elizabeth J. Kistin, Bharat Sharma, and Luna Bharati

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Adaptation

Water Policy

Journal Articles

A Silent Tsunami Revisited: Extending Global Access to Clean Water and Sanitation

While billions still lack safe drinking water and sanitation, access can be enhanced through improved policy and strategic outreach, according to this report by Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Aspen Institute. A Silent Tsunami Revisited outlines the progress made on the expansion of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services since its companion report was released in 2005. It highlights these experts' recommendations for improving the efficacy of the WASH sector and achieving universal access to safe water and sanitation.

Author(s): Harriet C. Babbit, Malcom S. Morris

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Water Policy

Health and Sanitation

International

Reports

Erin McKenzie

Public Relations Specialist

919-613-3652

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Erin McKenzie is the public relations specialist for Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Here she manages communication activities and branding across the Nicholas Institute’s six program areas: ocean and coastal policy, climate and energy, water policy, environmental economics, state policy and ecosystem services. This work includes overseeing the Nicholas Institute’s website and social media, print communications and media relations.

Before joining the Nicholas Institute in August 2010, Erin worked in the Communications Office at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering as editor of their research and alumni magazines and prior as a journalist with Cox Enterprises. 

 

Brian Murray

Director, Environmental Economics Program

919-613-8725

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Areas of Expertise: environmental economics, market-based policy, carbon markets, climate change, bioenergy, economic modeling, agriculture, REDD

Brian Murray, director of the Environmental Economics Program at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and interim director of the Duke University Energy Initiative, is widely recognized for his work on the economics of climate change policy. This includes the design of cap-and-trade policy elements to address cost containment and inclusion of offsets from traditionally uncapped sectors such as agriculture and forestry. Murray is among the original designers of the allowance price reserve approach for containing prices in carbon markets that was adopted by California and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap-and-trade programs. Throughout his 21-year research career, he has produced many peer-reviewed publications on topics ranging from the design of market-based environmental policies and the effectiveness of renewable energy subsidies to the evaluation of programs to protect natural habitats such as forests, coastal and marine ecosystems. 

He holds both a doctoral and master's degree in resource economics and policy from Duke University and a bachelor's degree in economics and finance from the University of Delaware. 
 

Ongoing Evolution of the Electricity Industry: Effects of Market Conditions and the Clean Power Plan on States

The electricity industry is evolving as changes in natural gas and coal prices, along with environmental regulations, dramatically shift the generation mix. Future trends in gas prices and costs of renewables are likely to continue moving the industry away from coal-fired generation and into lower-emitting sources such as natural gas and renewables. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) is likely to amplify these trends. The CPP rule regulates emissions from existing fossil generators and allows states to choose among an array of rate-based and mass-based goals. The analysis in this paper uses the electricity-dispatch component of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model to evaluate electricity industry trends and CPP impacts on the U.S. generation mix, emissions, and industry costs. Several coordinated approaches to the Clean Power Plan are considered, along with a range of uncoordinated “patchwork” choices by states. The model results indicate future industry trends are likely to make compliance with the Clean Power Plan relatively inexpensive; cost increases are likely to be on the order of 0.1% to 1.0%. Some external market conditions such as high gas prices could increase these costs, whereas low gas or renewables prices can achieve many of CPP goals without additional adjustments by the industry. However, policy costs can vary substantially across states, and may lead some of them to adopt a patchwork of policies that, although in their own best interests, could impose additional costs on neighboring states.

Authors: Martin T. Ross, David Hoppock, and Brian C. Murray

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Environmental Economics

State Policy

Working Papers

Mass-Based Trading under the Clean Power Plan: Options for Allowance Allocation

Many states are considering mass-based allowance trading programs to meet federal Clean Power Plan (CPP) requirements. Under a mass-based trading approach, states work with a certain number of allowances, or an allowance “budget,” that matches the total emissions limit for each year of the program. States have many options for distributing the allowances that power plants will need to cover their carbon dioxide emissions. They can directly give the allowances to specific parties, set them aside for a specific purpose, auction them, or use some combination of these options. Allowance distribution, more commonly known as “allocation,” may be the single-most important decision states will make when implementing mass-based trading programs. In making that decision, each state will want to carefully consider its goals, especially given that the total value of all allowances in its allowance budget is likely to dwarf the actual resource expenditures needed to bring its power plants into compliance. Allowance allocation determines how that value and CPP costs are distributed among electricity producers, consumers, and other stakeholders. States and the EPA have considerable experience with various allocation mechanisms. Consequently, the implications of different choices, which depend on a state’s economic regulatory context, are known. This paper describes the choices and their effects as well as explores potential goals and the allowance allocation methods best suited to achieve them.

Authors: Franz Litz and Brian Murray

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Working Papers

Incentivizing the Reduction of Pollution at Dairies: How to Address Additionality When Multiple Environmental Credit Payments Are Combined

Anaerobic digesters (ADs) can reduce waste volumes and capture methane emissions from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), but their adoption rate is low because their cost is high relative to other forms of waste management. Farmers who use ADs can attempt to sell carbon credits and nutrient credits as well as renewable electricity certificates (RECs) generated by on-site electricity production from captured methane. These credits and RECs can be used as marketable “offsets” that buyers can use to help meet their greenhouse gas and nutrient pollution reduction goals. One issue that arises is whether a single operation can sell into multiple credit markets by “stacking” credits—that is, receiving multiple environmental payments to finance the conversion to AD technology. This practice introduces the possibility that some credits might be “non-additional”—i.e., produce no incremental pollution reductions—and thus be suspect pollution offsets. Non-additionality in environmental credit stacking occurs when multiple payment streams do not produce incremental pollution reductions, thus allowing the credit buyer to pollute more than is being offset by the AD project. A possible solution to the stacking problem may be to allow stacking of all credits available at the time of AD installation, but to prohibit any further stacking if new credit streams become available after installation. This is a revised paper that was originally published in 2015.

Authors: Brian C. Murray and Tibor Vegh

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Environmental Markets

Policy and Design

Agriculture

Land

Environmental Economics

Energy Sector

National

Working Papers

British Columbia’s Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax: A Review of the Latest “Grand Experiment” in Environmental Policy

In 2008, British Columbia implemented the first comprehensive and substantial carbon tax in North America. By 2012, the tax had reached a level of C$30/t CO2, and it covered about three-quarters of all greenhouse gas emissions in the province. This article reviews existing evidence on the effect of the tax on greenhouse emissions, the economy, and the distribution of income, and it provides new evidence on public perceptions of the tax. Empirical and simulation models suggest that the tax has reduced emissions in the province by between 5 percent and 15 percent since being implemented. At the same time, models show that the tax has had negligible effects on the aggregate economy, despite some evidence that certain emissions-intensive sectors face challenges. Studies differ on the effects of the policy on the distribution of income; however, all studies agree that the effects are relatively small in this dimension. Finally, polling data show that the tax was initially opposed by the majority of the public but that three years post-implementation, the public generally supported the carbon tax.

Authors: Brian C. Murray and Nicholas Rivers

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Carbon Tax

Environmental Markets

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

Journal Articles

Lydia Olander

Director, Ecosystem Services Program

919-613-8713

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Areas of Expertise: offsets, climate mitigation, agriculture, REDD, climate policy, ecosystem services, endangered species act

Lydia Olander directs the Ecosystem Services Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. She co-leads Duke’s Ecosystem Services Working Group; and leads the National Ecosystem Services Partnership which is currently coordinating the Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Project. She also works on environmental markets and mitigation, including forestry and agricultural based climate mitigation; wetland, stream and endangered species mitigation; and water quality trading.  

Lydia joined the Nicholas Institute after spending a year as an AAAS Congressional Science and Technology Fellow working with Senator Joseph Lieberman on environmental and energy issues. Before moving to Washington, D.C., she was a researcher with the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Global Ecology, where she studied the biogeochemical impacts of logging in the Brazilian Amazon and utilized remote sensing to extrapolate regional impacts. She received her PhD from Stanford University, where she studied nutrient cycling in tropical forests, and earned a master’s degree in forest science from Yale University. She has published in a wide range of professional journals including Ecosystems, Biogeochemistry, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Forest Ecology and Management, Earth Interactions, and Environmental Research Letters, Global Environmental Politics, Environmental Management, The Environmental Law Reporter, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Advances in Agronomy and Global Change Biology, and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Engaging Large Forest Owners in All-Lands Conservation: All-Lands and Large Ownerships—A Conversation to Advance Engagement Workshop, March 8, 2016, Washington, D.C.

Successful landscape-scale forest conservation and management efforts must engage a wide variety of forestland owners. Owners of large areas of forestland (more than 10,000 acres) have a particularly important role to play in the attainment of landscape-scale goals. Their cooperation increases opportunities for attaining conservation benefits at significant scale. On March 8, 2016, a group of large private landowners was for the first time brought together with federal, NGO, and academic thought leaders to generate ideas for improving engagement on landscape-scale conservation goals. The dialogue was designed to identify barriers to and options for that engagement. These proceedings summarize the dialogue of meeting participants in addressing an “all lands” approach to conservation whereby landowners and stakeholders collaborate on identifying long-term, mutually beneficial goals for the landscapes they share. It includes a profile of large institutional forestland owners and details the results of a survey conducted to measure their current engagement in conservation activities. Participants identified barriers to engaging large forest landowners in conservation. They include the absence of an inclusive vision for the future of forest management, insufficient leadership for building diverse coalitions to address forest threats, lack of alignment of existing federal programs with respect to large ownership structures, limited understanding of the public benefits provided by large privately owned forests, and lack of markets to sustain these benefits. Participants recognized the need to define a shared conservation vision, to build leadership for a broad coalition of stakeholders, and to execute a national strategy recognizing the value of and providing incentives for large private landowners to cooperatively address forest threats. Much discussion centered on building the business case for conservation and on recognizing new values and expanding markets. Participants also considered opportunities for aligning the incentive-based approaches of funding agencies with the needs and interests of forestland owners. A steering committee was formed to consider developing specific strategies to incentivize engagement of large forestland owners and to work toward a collaborative vision for attaining conservation objectives across varied ownerships.

Authors: Eric Smith, Lydia Olander, Paul Trianosky, and Andrea Bedell-Loucks

 

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Ecosystem Services

Land

Proceedings

Assessing County and Regional Habitat Conservation Plan Creation: What Contributes to Success?

Habitat conservation plans (HCPs) are a means for private landowners to comply with the Endangered Species Act. It has become increasingly common for county and regional governments to create region-wide HCPs that cover development from multiple projects in the entire region. Local governments recognize that these plans can increase economic certainty for residents, increase development, and potentially increase conservation. However, region-wide plans are time and resource intensive, and they sometimes are not completed. What factors and processes lead to the successful completion of an HCP at the regional and county level? This paper presents the results of five case studies on county or regional HCPs. It finds that several factors contribute to successful HCP creation: (1) a cooperative relationship between the county or region and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and between the local governing body and the USFWS; (2) local community and political involvement, especially early stakeholder engagement; (3) determination of the covered species by a scientific advisory committee or a consultant; (4) primary funding through USFWS Section 6 grants; and (5) utilization of the county or region’s own reserve lands to most efficiently use mitigation funds and provide the best species habitat. By identifying these factors that contribute to HCP success, this analysis allows stakeholders to anticipate needs and potential barriers, benefitting individuals with diverse interests in counties and regions where a large-scale HCP is possible.

Authors: Chelsea L. Baldino, Lydia P. Olander, and Christopher S. Galik

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Endangered Species Act

Ecosystem Services

Land

Working Papers

Managing Risk in Environmental Markets

Environmental markets use voluntary approaches to meet regulatory requirements and to target cost-effective, flexible, and efficient means to achieve environmental results. Although these markets create opportunities, they also involve some risk for regulated buyers, project developers (sellers), landowners, and the public. This paper reviews five types of risk these actors face—technical risk, extreme events, behavioral uncertainty, regulatory uncertainty, and market uncertainty—in four markets that commonly engage agricultural and forest landowners in the United States—wetland and stream mitigation banking, conservation banking, greenhouse gas offsets, and water quality trading. These markets involve transactions that range from annual to permanent transfers of environmental benefits. Thus they entail different risks and liabilities. Given robust risk management strategies and significant similarity across programs there are but a few risk management mechanisms that have yet to be tried in all markets and that present opportunities for improvement. These mechanisms include clarifying rules about how water quality and carbon offsets projects can sell into multiple markets, thereby enhancing flexibility and reducing risk for buyers and sellers. None of the markets currently use but all could consider purchase guarantees to encourage supply generation. Another opportunity may be vertical integration of regulatory programs, in which buyers become project developers to control risk. Finally, water quality trading markets could use credit banks to connect buyers and sellers. These banks might work best if they serve a clearinghouse function, providing market coordination and information.

Author: Lydia Olander

 

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Environmental Markets

Ecosystem Services

Working Papers

Best Practices for Integrating Ecosystem Services into Federal Decision Making

Federal agencies take many actions that influence ecosystem conditions and change the provision of ecosystem services valued by the public. To date, most decisions affecting ecosystems have relied on ecological assessments with little or no consideration of the value of ecosystem services. Best practice for ecosystem services assessments is to apply quantitative measures and methods that express both an ecosystem’s capacity to provide valued services and, through those services, social benefit (value). Although preference evaluation methods are well established, their implementation can be infeasible because of time or resource constraints, particularly when new data need to be collected. In such cases, the minimum standard recommended for an ecosystem services assessment is to use measures that go beyond narrative description and that are carefully constructed to reflect the ecosystem’s capacity to provide benefits to society but that stop short of a formal assessment of people’s preferences. These measures of ecosystem services are benefit-relevant indicators (BRIs). Their use ensures that ecosystem services assessments measure outcomes that are demonstrably relevant to human welfare, rather than biophysical measures that might not be relevant to human welfare. If ecosystem service values or BRIs are not used in some manner, ecosystem services are not being assessed, and no direct insights can be drawn about effects on social welfare. This minimum best practice is broadly achievable across agencies and decision contexts with current capacity and resources.

Authors: Lydia Olander, Robert J. Johnston, Heather Tallis, Jimmy Kagan, Lynn Maguire, Steve Polasky, Dean Urban, James Boyd, Lisa Wainger, and Margaret Palmer

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Ecosystem Services

National Ecosystem Services Partnership

Reports

Lauren Patterson

Policy Associate, Water Policy Program

919-613-3653

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Areas of Expertise: climate and streamflow, ecological flows, hydrologic extremes

Lauren Patterson joined the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions as a policy associate in October 2013. Her research focuses on changes in average streamflow, floods, and droughts due to climate and human impacts. She has also worked on water utility financing, water transfers between utilities, and drought probabilities. Lauren has an affinity for data analysis and visualization.

Before joining the Nicholas Institute, she contracted at RTI International to provide geospatial and data analysis support in the development of ecological flow recommendations for North Carolina's Ecological Flow Advisory Board. Prior to her time at RTI, she worked at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, serving as a GIS and Financial Analyst focused on modeling future potential water transfers in North Carolina and developing sustainable finance strategies for the Upper Neuse watershed. She has a Ph.D. in geography from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

A Spatiotemporal Exploration of Water Consumption Changes Resulting from the Coal-to-Gas Transition in Pennsylvania

During the early stages of Pennsylvania’s coal-to-gas transition, extraction and generation of coal and natural gas contributed to a yearly 2.6–8.4% increase in the state’s water consumption. Although some areas experienced no change in water consumption, others experienced large decreases or increases. Consumption variations depended on available natural gas resources and pre-existing power-generating infrastructure. This analysis estimates monthly water consumption associated with fuel extraction and power generation within Pennsylvania watersheds between 2009 and 2012. It also provides the first comprehensive representation of changing water consumption patterns associated with the state’s coal-to-gas transition at the sub-basin level. The analysis shows that water consumption for natural gas energy extraction and production increased throughout the period, while for coal extraction and production it decreased. Water use for natural gas generation increased 67%, particularly in the Philadelphia and Pittsburg areas; water use for hydraulic fracturing increased nine fold in southwest and northeast Pennsylvania. By contrast, water use for coal extraction and production decreased 13%. In some areas, increased water consumption resulting from hydraulic fracturing was offset by decreased water consumption for power generation as plants switched from coal to natural gas. An interactive map and chart highlighting the changes can be accessed at www.nicholasinstitute.duke.edu/hydraulic-fracturing. These findings indicate the importance of considering the implications of energy production and generation choices in the context of both energy extraction and production sectors and of doing so at smaller-than-state-level scale.

Authors: Lauren A. Patterson, Sarah M. Jordaan, and Laura Diaz Anadon

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Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Use

Water Policy

Working Papers

Optimizing the Scale of Markets for Water Quality Trading

Allowing polluters to buy, sell or trade water-quality credits could significantly reduce pollution in river basins and estuaries faster and at a lower cost than requiring facilities to meet compliance costs on their own, a new Duke University led study finds. The scale and type of the trading programs, though critical, may matter less than just getting them started. The analysis in the journal Water Resources Research shows that water-quality trading of any kind can significantly lower the costs of achieving Clean Water Act goals.

Author(s): Martin Doyle, Lauren Patterson, Yanyou Chen, Kurt Schnier, and Andrew Yates

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Environmental Markets

Science

Water Policy

Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

National

Journal Articles

Climate and Direct Human Contributions to Changes in Mean Annual Streamflow in the South Atlantic, USA

Streamflow responds to changing climate patterns as well as human modifications within a basin. Understanding the contribution of these different drivers to changes in streamflow provides important information regarding how to effectively and efficiently address and anticipate changes in water availability. In this study, published in the journal Water Resources Research, authors used Budyko curves to ascribe changes in streamflow due to climate and human factors between two time periods in both natural and human-modified basins in the South Atlantic. They found climate contributed to increased streamflow (average of 14%) in the South Atlantic since the 1970s. Human factors varied between basins and either amplified or minimized the effect of climate on streamflow. Human impacts were equivalent to, or greater than, climate impacts in 27% of our basins. 

Author (s): Lauren Patterson, Brian Lutz, Martin Doyle

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Wetland and Stream Mitigation

Climate and Energy

Science

Water Policy

Natural Resources

States & Regions

State Policy

Journal Articles

Characterization of Drought in the South Atlantic, United States

In this Journal of the American Water Resources Association article, authors aim to characterize drought in the South Atlantic and to understand whether drought has become more severe in this region over time using monthly streamflow to characterize hydrological drought. Significant changes in drought characteristics were tested with Mann-Kendall over three periods: 1930-2010, 1930-1969, and 1970-2010. Authors show that 71% of drought events were shorter than six months, while 7% were multiyear events. There was little evidence of trends in drought characteristics to support the claim of drought becoming more severe in the South Atlantic over the 20th Century. The one exception was a significant increase in the joint probability of nearby basins being simultaneously in drought conditions in the southern portion of the study area from 1970 to 2010. While drought characteristics have changed little through time, decreasing average streamflow in non drought periods, coupled with increasing water demand, provide the context within which recent multiyear drought events have produced significant stress on existing water infrastructure.

Author(s): Lauren Patterson, Brian Lutz, and Martin Doyle

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Climate and Energy

Science

Water Policy

Quality

Natural Resources

National

Journal Articles

Linwood Pendleton

Senior Scholar, Ocean and Coastal Policy Program

805-794-8206

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Areas of Expertise: ocean and coastal policy, environmental economics, ecosystem services, climate adaption

Linwood Pendleton is a senior scholar in the Ocean and Coastal Policy Program at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Pendleton’s work focuses on policies that affect human uses and enjoyment of ocean and coastal resources – both living and non-living. He is the director of the Marine Ecosystem Services Partnership, author of many scholarly articles, and coordinates the Marine Secretariat of the international Ecosystem Services Partnership. Pendleton’s current projects include understanding the economic and human impacts of ocean acidification (funded by SESYNC), Mapping Ocean Wealth (with the Nature Conservancy), the economics of coastal blue carbon (Global Environmental Facility), and efforts to better manage the deep sea. Pendleton served as acting chief economist at NOAA from January 2011 through August 2013.

He holds a doctoral degree in resource and environmental economics from Yale University; a master's degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School; a master's degree in ecology, evolution, and behavior from Princeton; and a bachelor's degree in biology from the College of William and Mary.

Multiple Stressors and Ecological Complexity Require a New Approach to Coral Reef Research

Ocean acidification, climate change, and other environmental stressors threaten coral reef ecosystems and the people who depend upon them. New science reveals that these multiple stressors interact and may affect a multitude of physiological and ecological processes in complex ways. The interaction of multiple stressors and ecological complexity may mean that the negative effects on coral reef ecosystems will happen sooner and be more severe than previously thought. Yet, most research on the effects of global change on coral reefs focus on one or few stressors, pathways or outcomes. In the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, authors call for a regionally targeted strategy of mesocosm-level research that addresses this complexity and provides more realistic projections about coral reef impacts in the face of global environmental change. 

Authors: Linwood H. Pendleton, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Chris Langdon, and Adrien Comte

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Ocean and Coastal Policy

Journal Articles

Assessing the Economic Contribution of Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services in the Sargasso Sea

This report, which was revised April 2015, provides a variety of measures of the Sargasso Sea’s economic value and impact, especially net and gross revenues associated with ecosystem services supported by the sea. It captures just a small portion of these services and does not reflect their complete and total net value. Yet analysis of data on even this small portion suggests that the economic importance of the Sargasso Sea is significant. Economic expenditures and revenues directly or potentially linked to that sea range from tens to hundreds of million of dollars a year.

Authors: L. Pendleton, F. Krowicki, P. Strosser, and J. Hallett-Murdoch, Murdoch Marine

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Ocean and Coastal Policy

Marine Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services

Marine

Environmental Economics

Reports

Lessons Learned from an Ecosystem-Based Management Approach to Restoration of a California Estuary

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is the dominant paradigm, at least in theory, for coastal resource management. However, there are still relatively few case studies illustrating thorough application of principles of EBM by stakeholders and decision makers. This Marine Policy article details work done at Elkhorn Slough, a California estuary. There, stakeholders collaboratively developed and evaluated large-scale restoration alternatives designed to decrease two types of rapid habitat change occurring in the estuary, erosion of channels and dieback of salt marsh. In the end, decision makers rejected large-scale alternatives altering the mouth of the estuary, and instead opted for small- to medium-scale restoration projects and recommended an added emphasis on reduction of nutrient-loading. The article describes seven challenges encountered during the application of EBM principles.

Author(s): Kerstin Wasson, Becky Suarez, Antonia Akhavan, Erin McCarthy, Judith Kildow, Kenneth S. Johnson, Monique C. Fountain, Andrea Woolfolk, Mark Silberstein, Linwood Pendleton, and Dave Feliz

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Science

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Estuaries

Journal Articles

Evaluating the Basic Elements of Transparency of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations

A new study in the journal Marine Policy examines, for the first time, the transparency of international fisheries management organisations operating on the high seas. Transparency is broadly recognized as an essential component of sustainable development and good governance, especially with regard to the management of natural resources. In order to develop a more secure investment environment and provide the public with knowledge of natural resource rents received by their governments, terrestrially-based standards such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative have been established to ensure greater fiscal transparency. The results that emerged from the study are mixed, highlighting a number of good and also weak practices. 

Author(s): Nichola A. Clark, Jeff A. Ardron, and Linwood H. Pendleton

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Ocean and Coastal Policy

Fisheries

National

Journal Articles

Amy Pickle

Director, State Policy Program

919-613-8746

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Areas of Expertise: state policy, North Carolina, state and local governments, water, climate adaptation

Amy Pickle directs the State Policy Program at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. She focuses on state and local roles in developing energy resources; the interaction among federal, state, and local water management policies; the role of water utilities in green infrastructure implementation; and local governments' efforts to adapt to climate change and improve urban sustainability.

Pickle holds a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a bachelor's degree in English and another one in chemistry from the University of Florida. 

The Depths of Hydraulic Fracturing and Accompanying Water Use across the United States

Unconventional oil and gas extraction using a combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has transformed natural gas and oil production in North America and raised public concern about its intense water use and potential hazards, including drinking-water contamination. Such extraction is thought to pose no safety concerns for drinking water if it occurs many hundreds of meters to kilometers underground, yet no comprehensive analysis of hydraulic fracturing depths existed until publication of a new article in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Based on reports of fracturing depths and water use at 44,000 wells in the United States between 2010 and 2013, the analysis finds the average fracturing depth was 8,300 feet and the average water use was 2,400,000 gallons per well. Many of these wells (6,900 or 16 percent) were fractured less than a mile from the surface; 2,600 wells (6 percent) were fractured above 3,000 feet. Because hydraulic fractures can propagate 2,000 feet upward, the analysis indicates that shallow wells may warrant special safeguards, including a mandatory registry of well locations, full chemical disclosure, and, where horizontal drilling is used, predrilling water testing to a radius 1,000 feet beyond a well’s greatest lateral extent.

Authors: Robert B. Jackson, Ella R. Lowry, Amy Pickle, Mary Kang, Dominic DiGiulio, and Kaiguang Zha

 

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Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Use

Climate and Energy

Water Policy

Energy Sector

Natural Resources

National

States & Regions

Journal Articles

Environmental Justice Roundtable Report

This report from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Kenan Institute for Ethics summarizes discussion from a roundtable with experts from Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University and Research Triangle Institute that explored the multiple starting points for environmental justice research in the Triangle area.

Editor (s): Kay Jowers and Suzanne Katzenstein

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Environmental Justice

State Policy

Reports

Climate Ready Estuaries: A Blueprint for Change

Initially conceived as an outreach pilot to increase public and local government awareness in five counties of the Albemarle-Pamlico region, our Blueprint summarizes the initial outreach efforts, includes findings and recommendations for increasing the region’s climate resilience, compiles a resource of up-to-date science on sea-level rise impacts, and serves as a first step in educating the public and decision makers about the opportunities and challenges of becoming a climate ready estuary.

Author(s): Bill Holman and Amy Pickle

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Water Policy

Ocean and Coastal Policy

State Policy

Reports

Considering the Clean Water Act

Initially authorized in response to egregious pollution from water water treatment plants and major industrial sources, the Clean Water Act has catalyzed the cleanup of many of our nations' waters. The outlook for continuing progress under the Clean Water Act, however, has been diminished in the face of modern pollutants, aging infrastructure, the Act's limited tools to address nonpoint sources and increasing stresses from unregulated development, population growth and climate change. Concerns about the Clean Water Act limits prompted the Water Environment Federation and Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions along with the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread to convene a facilitated three-day workshop about the state of the Clean Water Act. 

Author (s): Amy Pickle

 
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Water Policy

Reports

Billy Pizer

Faculty Fellow

919-613-9286

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Areas of Expertise: climate and energy policy, clean energy finance, environment and development, environmental regulation

Billy Pizer holds joint appointments as professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy and as a faculty fellow in the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. 

His current research examines how public policies to promote clean energy can effectively leverage private sector investments, how environmental regulation and climate policy can affect production costs and competitiveness, and how the design of market-based environmental policies can be improved.  From 2008 until 2011, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment and Energy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, overseeing Treasury’s role in the domestic and international environment and energy agenda of the United States. Prior to that, he was a researcher at Resources for the Future for more than a decade. He has written more than two dozen peer-reviewed publications, books, and articles, and holds a Ph.D. and Master's degree in economics from Harvard University and Bachelor's degree in physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Weighing the Costs and Benefits of Climate Change to Our Children

In making climate change mitigation or adaptation investments, we need to think about how we value the welfare of future generations compared to our own. Assuming that future generations will be better off than our own, just as we are better off than our ancestors, a common formula for “discounting the future” recommends paying only 5 cents today for every dollar of benefits 100 years from now. This article in the journal the Future of Children describes three reasons to put more value on future benefits. First, other interpretations of preferences or observed data could increase the weight we place on future benefits by as much as a factor of five. Second, future climate change impacts, particularly those related to the loss of environmental amenities that have no close monetary substitutes, could be undervalued. Third, the risk that a warming climate could cause sudden and catastrophic changes that would drastically alter the size of the population could be misunderstood. Ultimately, many choices about how we value future generations’ welfare come down to ethical questions, and many of the decisions we must make come down to societal preferences—and those choices and decisions will be difficult to extract from data or theory.

Authors: Simon Dietz, Ben Groom, and William A. Pizer

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Climate and Energy

Environmental Economics

Journal Articles

Alternative Metrics for Comparing Domestic Climate Change Mitigation Efforts and the Emerging International Climate Policy Architecture

The availability of practical mechanisms for comparing domestic efforts aimed at mitigating global climate change is important for the stability, equity, and efficiency of international climate agreements. This article examines a variety of metrics that could be used to compare countries’ climate change mitigation efforts and to illustrate their potential application to large developed and developing countries. Because there is no single, comprehensive, measurable metric that could be applied to all countries, it suggests using a set of indicators to characterize and compare mitigation effort, akin to using a set of economic statistics to indicate the health of the macroeconomy. Given the iterative pledge-and-review approach that is emerging in current climate change negotiations, these statistics could enhance participation, commitment, and compliance if they can show that all parties are doing their “fair share,” both prospectively and retrospectively. The analysis highlights the need for a well-functioning policy surveillance regime.

Authors: Joseph E. Aldy and William A. Pizer

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Environmental Economics

Journal Articles

The Competitiveness Impacts of Climate Change Mitigation Policies

The pollution haven hypothesis suggests that unilateral domestic climate change mitigation policy would impose significant economic costs on carbon-intensive industries, resulting in declining output and increasing net imports. To evaluate this hypothesis, we undertake a two-step empirical analysis. First, we estimate how production and net imports change in response to energy prices using a 35-year panel of approximately 450 U.S. manufacturing industries. Second, we use these estimated relationships to simulate the impacts of changes in energy prices resulting from a $15 per ton carbon price. We find that energy-intensive manufacturing industries are more likely to experience decreases in production and increases in net imports than less energy-intensive industries. Our best estimate is that competitiveness effects--measured by the increase in net imports--are as large as 0.8 percent for the most energy-intensive industries and represent no more than about one-sixth of the estimated decrease in production.

Authors: Joseph E. Aldy and William A. Pizer

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Environmental Economics

Journal Articles

Regulating Existing Power Plants under the U.S. Clean Air Act: Present and Future Consequences of Key Design Choices

In June 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants, triggering considerable debate on the proposal’s design and its environmental and economic consequences. One question not addressed by this debate is this: What if the EPA regulations turn out to be inadequate to address future mitigation goals? That is, what will the landscape for future policies look like if these regulations turn out to be just an interim measure? This analysis in the journal Energy Policy compares potential short- and long-term consequences of several key regulatory design choices, including mass-based versus rate-based standards, tradable versus non-tradable standards, and differentiated versus single standards. It finds that long-term consequences may be significant in terms of the legacy they leave for future policy revisions: tradable standards lead to lower electricity prices and become weaker over time; differentiated tradable standards lead to relatively greater investment in coal retrofits; non-tradable standards lead to relatively greater retirement of coal capacity. It may be the case that key policy choices entail one set of tradeoffs if proposed EPA rules are viewed as relatively permanent and final and another set of tradeoffs if the rules are viewed as an interim solution.

Author(s): Brian Murray, William Pizer, Martin Ross

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Journal Articles

Christina Reichert

Policy Counsel, Climate and Energy Program

919-613-8745

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Areas of Expertise: Clean Air Act, environmental law, energy law

Christina Reichert is a policy counsel for the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, where she works on the Clean Power Plan. Christina also serves as a vice chair for the Environmental, Energy, and Natural Resources Committee for the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division.

Prior to joining Duke, Christina was the law fellow at Oceana under a project-based fellowship from the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. During law school, Christina interned for Judge Norma L. Shapiro of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and was on the editorial board for RegBlog and the University of Pennsylvania’s Journal of Constitutional Law.

Christina is a member of the Florida Bar and an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the University of South Florida, where she studied anthropology and psychology.

The Many Possible Futures of the Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Some parties are saying that the unusual decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to delay an important greenhouse gas regulation does not bode well for the future of the rule. But how does the future of this particular regulation, the Clean Power Plan (CPP), affect the future of climate policy in general? This article focuses on how three possible outcomes of CPP litigation might affect future climate policy.

Author: Christina I. Reichert

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Journal Articles

The Clean Power Plan and Electricity Demand: Considering Load Growth in a Carbon-Constrained Economy

Release of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) marks a significant moment in U.S. climate policy, but a host of economic, technological, and regulatory factors are also driving significant change in the electricity sector, complicating state regulatory decision making. Ensuring access to reliable and affordable electricity while protecting public health is a central goal of state regulation of electric utilities. Thus, expectations about the future of the electricity sector in general, and the future of electricity demand and emissions trajectories in particular, will likely play an important role in state CPP decisions. This policy brief discusses load growth—rising electricity demand—in the context of CPP design choices and demonstrates that it may occur under either a rate-based or mass-based approach. Following a brief overview of the Clean Power Plan and state choices, including rate-based and mass-based performance standards, it summarizes recent trends in load growth and carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. electricity sector, showing how electricity demand growth in the United States has been low for more than a decade while the carbon intensity of electricity generation has declined. It then explores how both rate-based and mass-based plans can accommodate load growth and future emissions. Although no CPP approach limits electricity generation growth to meet new demand, rate-based approaches and mass-based approaches that cover only existing sources also allow emissions from new sources to increase. Mass-based plans that cover new sources would not limit electricity generation growth, but they would limit emissions from all covered sources.

Authors: Sarah Adair, Christina Reichert, Julie DeMeester, and David Hoppock
 

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Policy Briefs

Incremental Climate Policy via the Clean Air Act

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' Jonas Monast and Christina Reichert write in the American Bar Association's publication Trends that tegulators implement climate policy based on the law Congress enacts, not the law they may wish Congress would enact. For the Obama Administration, that law is the existing Clean Air Act. More Clean Air Act-based climate policy is on its way. In October 2015, the White House announced forthcoming regulations limiting emissions of climate-forcing hydroflurocarbons, and the Clean Power Plan potentially sets the state for carbon dioxide limits for existing facilities and other sectors. Step-by-step, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is developing a broad strategy to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions using existing statutory authority.

Authors: Jonas Monast and Christina Reichert

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Steve Roady

Faculty Fellow

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Areas of Expertise: environmental policy and regulation, ocean and coastal resources management, air and water quality protection

Steve Roady holds joint appointments as a professor of the practice at Duke Law School and as a faculty fellow in the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

His current research examines ways to protect air and water quality, and to manage natural resources sustainably. Prior to his appointment, he devoted more than three decades to litigation and administrative advocacy focused on enforcing the public health and environmental protections contained in federal statutes enacted in the United States between 1970 and 1990. His work has helped protect air and water quality, mountains and streams, and ocean and coastal resources.

Steve helped draft the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 as a staff attorney for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He has worked closely on ocean policy and litigation since 1998, when he launched the Ocean Law Project. During 2001-2002, he was the first president of Oceana, a non-profit, international conservation organization that relies upon law, advocacy, and science to protect ocean life. Most recently, he managed the oceans program at Earthjustice (the public interest law firm known formerly as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund).    

Steve is a graduate of Davidson College (A.B. 1971) and Duke Law School (J.D. 1976). 

He has been teaching a course on ocean and coastal law and policy at Duke Law School and at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment since 2003. He received a Professor of the Year Award from the Duke School of the Environment in 2008, and that same year was named a Public Interest Fellow by Harvard Law School. 

Steve has been a visiting professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii and a professorial lecturer at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. In 2013, he provided separate briefings for members of the Irish and German governments on lessons learned in this country with respect to sustainable fishery management.

Steve’s most recent writings focus on ocean stewardship duties under the Public Trust Doctrine, including a chapter in Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy (2d ed. 2015). Other published work includes articles explaining key federal statutes and doctrines that protect ocean life and articles that detail the legislative history of permitting and enforcement provisions of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

Martin Ross

Senior Research Economist, Environmental Economics Program

919-613-3650

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Areas of Expertise: modeling, environmental economics

Martin Ross is a senior research economist at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, specializing in environmental and energy economics and macroeconomic-simulation modeling.

Prior to joining the Nicholas Institute at the end of 2011, he worked with RTI International where he developed the Applied Dynamic Analysis of the Global Economy (ADAGE) model, which is used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to respond to Congressional requests for legislative analyses. The ADAGE model can investigate many types of economic, energy, environmental, and trade policies at the international, national, and U.S. regional levels. It is particularly useful for examining how climate-change mitigation policies limiting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy consumption and non-CO2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will affect all sectors of the economy, altering industrial and residential energy consumption and efficiency. Research conducted for the U.S. EPA Climate Change Division, the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum, and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change has involved using the ADAGE model to estimate U.S. macroeconomic impacts of legislative proposals to reduce GHG emissions. Other modeling by Ross has included developing a detailed technology model of electricity markets to examine how criteria pollutant and GHG policies affect capacity planning decisions and generation costs.

Prior to joining RTI, Ross spent several years at Charles River Associates where he developed regional models to look at effects of climate-change mitigation policies and macroeconomic impacts of electric-utility legislation. In addition to his legislative analysis, Ross has advised industry groups such as the Electric Power Research Institute and Edison Electric Institute on economic and electricity modeling, and is published in The Energy JournalEnergy Economics, and Climactic Change, among others.

Ross holds both a doctoral and master's degree in economics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a bachelor's degree in economics from Michigan State University.

Ongoing Evolution of the Electricity Industry: Effects of Market Conditions and the Clean Power Plan on States

The electricity industry is evolving as changes in natural gas and coal prices, along with environmental regulations, dramatically shift the generation mix. Future trends in gas prices and costs of renewables are likely to continue moving the industry away from coal-fired generation and into lower-emitting sources such as natural gas and renewables. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) is likely to amplify these trends. The CPP rule regulates emissions from existing fossil generators and allows states to choose among an array of rate-based and mass-based goals. The analysis in this paper uses the electricity-dispatch component of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model to evaluate electricity industry trends and CPP impacts on the U.S. generation mix, emissions, and industry costs. Several coordinated approaches to the Clean Power Plan are considered, along with a range of uncoordinated “patchwork” choices by states. The model results indicate future industry trends are likely to make compliance with the Clean Power Plan relatively inexpensive; cost increases are likely to be on the order of 0.1% to 1.0%. Some external market conditions such as high gas prices could increase these costs, whereas low gas or renewables prices can achieve many of CPP goals without additional adjustments by the industry. However, policy costs can vary substantially across states, and may lead some of them to adopt a patchwork of policies that, although in their own best interests, could impose additional costs on neighboring states.

Authors: Martin T. Ross, David Hoppock, and Brian C. Murray

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Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Environmental Economics

State Policy

Working Papers

The Clean Power Plan: Implications of Three Compliance Decisions for U.S. States

The proposed Clean Power Plan gives U.S. states flexibility in how they attain state-level carbon dioxide emissions rate goals from existing power plants. This analysis uses the Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model to illuminate the implications of three key decisions: whether to choose rate- or mass-based compliance, whether to pursue multistate or individual state compliance, and whether—if allowed in the final rule—to include new natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units under the emissions limit. 

Regarding power sector adjustments, modeling shows that (1) a rate-based approach initially decreases coal generation 25% and increases use of existing NGCC units and construction of new renewables; (2) compared to that approach, a mass-based approach initially increases coal generation and removes incentives for use of existing NGCC and new renewables generation; (3) assumptions about renewables capital costs, energy efficiency savings, and natural gas prices significantly affect generation responses; and (4) rate-based approaches allow for more emissions growth than mass-based approaches post–2030.

Regarding policy costs, the modeling shows that (1) a mass-based approach, especially with multistate cooperation, offers large cost savings opportunities; (2) neither approach has a big effect on wholesale electricity prices, but including new NGCC units lowers prices under a rate-based approach and increases them under a mass-based approach; and (3) costs differ across U.S. regions and across the mass- and rate-based approaches within regions.

Authors: Martin T. Ross, Brian C. Murray, and David Hoppock

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Assessing Impacts of the Clean Power Plan on Southeast States

The proposed Clean Power Plan gives U.S. states flexibility in how they attain state-level carbon dioxide emissions rate goals from existing power plants. This analysis explores the potential impact of the proposed CPP on Southeast states across a range of compliance options relative to a baseline without the CPP. The analysis presents modeling results from the Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model for eight primary compliance scenarios involving rate-based or mass-based compliance, unilateral state action or regional cooperation, and inclusion or non-inclusion of natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units as regulated entities under the CPP.

Regarding electricity sector adjustments, the modeling shows that a rate-based approach initially decreases coal generation, encourages use of existing and construction of new NGCC units, and incentivizes renewable generation, although use of renewables is not cost-effective in the Southeast under baseline cost assumptions. By comparison, a mass-based approach initially increases coal generation and removes incentives for use of existing NGCC units while significantly increasing new NGCC generation. Including new NGCC units under CPP compliance shifts generation from those units to existing NGCC units under mass-based compliance and increases coal generation under rate-based compliance.

Regarding policy costs, the modeling shows that individual state compliance costs vary considerably, that a mass-based approach initially entails half the costs of a rate-based approach, and that both regional rate-based and mass-based approaches create significant net cost savings over unilateral state compliance.

Authors: Martin T. Ross, Brian C. Murray, and David Hoppock

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Southeast Climate

State Utility Regulation

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

Modeling

Working Papers

Regulating Existing Power Plants under the U.S. Clean Air Act: Present and Future Consequences of Key Design Choices

In June 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants, triggering considerable debate on the proposal’s design and its environmental and economic consequences. One question not addressed by this debate is this: What if the EPA regulations turn out to be inadequate to address future mitigation goals? That is, what will the landscape for future policies look like if these regulations turn out to be just an interim measure? This analysis in the journal Energy Policy compares potential short- and long-term consequences of several key regulatory design choices, including mass-based versus rate-based standards, tradable versus non-tradable standards, and differentiated versus single standards. It finds that long-term consequences may be significant in terms of the legacy they leave for future policy revisions: tradable standards lead to lower electricity prices and become weaker over time; differentiated tradable standards lead to relatively greater investment in coal retrofits; non-tradable standards lead to relatively greater retirement of coal capacity. It may be the case that key policy choices entail one set of tradeoffs if proposed EPA rules are viewed as relatively permanent and final and another set of tradeoffs if the rules are viewed as an interim solution.

Author(s): Brian Murray, William Pizer, Martin Ross

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Journal Articles

Jessica Sheffield

Administrative Program Coordinator

919-613-8731

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Jessica Sheffield joined the Nicholas Institute in October 2008. A 1999 graduate of Allegheny College, Jessica earned a bachelor's degree in environmental studies with a concentration in Third World development. She received her master's degree in environmental education from Slippery Rock University in 2002, and her certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University in 2005. Prior to joining the Institute Jessica served as Executive Director for Schoolhouse of Wonder, Durham's premier environmental education nonprofit program.

Tibor Vegh

Policy Associate, Environmental Economics Program

919-613-8721

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Areas of Expertise: environmental economics

Tibor Vegh joined Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Environmental Economics Program in September 2012. He serves as a Policy Associate and is a collaborator on projects related to carbon markets, bioenergy, and blue carbon economics.

Tibor earned his master's degree in forestry from Northern Arizona University in 2011. There, his research focused on identifying whether or not partial offset of ponderosa pine forest restoration treatments is possible with payments for carbon offsets. He earned his bachelor's degree at North Carolina State University in economics with a minor in mathematics. As an undergraduate researcher, he worked on modeling the effects of the North Carolina Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard on regional timber supply.

Incentivizing the Reduction of Pollution at Dairies: How to Address Additionality When Multiple Environmental Credit Payments Are Combined

Anaerobic digesters (ADs) can reduce waste volumes and capture methane emissions from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), but their adoption rate is low because their cost is high relative to other forms of waste management. Farmers who use ADs can attempt to sell carbon credits and nutrient credits as well as renewable electricity certificates (RECs) generated by on-site electricity production from captured methane. These credits and RECs can be used as marketable “offsets” that buyers can use to help meet their greenhouse gas and nutrient pollution reduction goals. One issue that arises is whether a single operation can sell into multiple credit markets by “stacking” credits—that is, receiving multiple environmental payments to finance the conversion to AD technology. This practice introduces the possibility that some credits might be “non-additional”—i.e., produce no incremental pollution reductions—and thus be suspect pollution offsets. Non-additionality in environmental credit stacking occurs when multiple payment streams do not produce incremental pollution reductions, thus allowing the credit buyer to pollute more than is being offset by the AD project. A possible solution to the stacking problem may be to allow stacking of all credits available at the time of AD installation, but to prohibit any further stacking if new credit streams become available after installation. This is a revised paper that was originally published in 2015.

Authors: Brian C. Murray and Tibor Vegh

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Environmental Markets

Policy and Design

Agriculture

Land

Environmental Economics

Energy Sector

National

Working Papers

Coastal “Blue” Carbon: A Revised Guide to Supporting Coastal Wetland Programs and Projects Using Climate Finance and Other Financial Mechanisms

Coastal wetlands conservation and restoration efforts aim to preserve biodiversity and generate benefits to local communities. A diverse portfolio of financing sources has been used for these efforts, including philanthropy, multi- and bilateral aid, in-country governmental funding, tourism-related and other usage fees, and fees and levies associated with wetlands-centric extractive industries. More recently, recognition of coastal wetlands as carbon sinks has opened the door for wetland managers to explore funding sources directed toward climate change mitigation. But finding appropriate funding sources to set up a coastal wetland carbon project or to develop a national carbon program (which includes or is solely focused on coastal wetlands) is often a challenge. Additionally, carbon finance alone often cannot support the necessary management activities. This report updates Keep It Fresh or Salty: An Introductory Guide to Financing Wetland Carbon Projects and Programs (2014). It uses revised guidance for program and project developers (governments, NGOs, local communities) and extends analysis to other finance avenues that can link and complement carbon activities with non-carbon-based financing sources such as debt-for-nature swaps. Rather than recommending one mechanism over any other, it encourages users to think holistically about the range of benefits provided by coastal wetlands conservation for climate mitigation and adaptation in order to optimize the full range of financial mechanisms.

Authors: D. Herr, T. Agardy, D. Benzaken, F. Hicks, J. Howard, E. Landis, A. Soles, and T. Vegh, with prior contributions from E. Pidgeon, M. Silvius, and E. Trines

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Environmental Markets

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Marine Ecosystem Services

Law and Policy Mangement

Environmental Economics

Blue Carbon

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Biogas in the United States: Estimating Future Production and Learning from International Experiences

The substitution of biogas, an energy source derived from biological feedstock, for fossil natural gas (NG) can mitigate the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, making it an attractive renewable energy source in a carbon-constrained future. Although upgraded, pipeline-quality biogas can augment the NG market supply in the United States, researchers and energy industry experts have little studied its long-term potential. This article estimates (1) levelized costs of energy for biogas production facilities operating with landfill waste, animal manure, wastewater sludge, and biomass residue feedstocks; (2) feedstock and technology pathway-specific biogas supply functions; and (3) the aggregate national biogas supply potential for the United States by 2040. Under a range of specified assumptions, generation of biogas could be expanded to approximately 3–5 percent of the total domestic NG market at projected prices of $5–6/MMBtu; the largest potential source comes from thermal gasification of agriculture and forest residues and biomass. As market signals have not spurred widespread adoption of biogas in the United States, policy incentives similar to those used in the European Union may be necessary to increase its production and use. Bioenergy policy in the European Union and the resulting market penetration achieved there provides important lessons for how biogas markets in the United States can overcome barriers to market expansion and, in doing so, provide substantial climate mitigation benefits.

Authors: Brian C. Murray, Christopher S. Galik, and Tibor Vegh

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Environmental Markets

Climate and Energy

Bioenergy

Regional Bioenergy

Environmental Economics

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Journal Articles

The Environmental and Economic Effects of Regional Bioenergy Policy in the Southeastern U.S.

The unique generation, landownership, and resource attributes of the southeastern United States make the region an important test bed for implementation of novel renewable energy policy interventions. This study evaluates the environmental and economic implications of one such intervention, a hypothetical region-wide renewable portfolio standard (RPS) with biomass carve-outs. It utilizes the Forest and Agriculture Sector Optimization Model with Greenhouse Gases (FASOMGHG) to assess the multi-sector and interregional allocation of forest harvest activity, and then uses the Sub-Regional Timber Supply (SRTS) model to assess intraregional variation in forest composition and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation potential. The analysis finds that existing resource conditions influence the regional distribution of land use and harvest changes, resulting in a spatially and temporally diverse forest carbon response. Net forest carbon in the Southeast is greater in the RPS Scenario than in the No RPS Scenario in all but the final years of the model run. Accounting for displaced fossil emissions yields net GHG reductions in all time periods. Both research methodology and findings are also applicable to a broader suite of domestic and international policies, including European Union renewable energy initiatives and GHG mitigation under Section 111 of the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Authors: Christopher S. Galik, Robert C. Abt, Gregory Latta, and Tibor Vegh

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John Virdin

John Virdin

Director, Ocean and Coastal Policy Program

919-684-1141

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Areas of Expertise: fisheries management, marine protected areas, marine policy, coastal and small island developing countries

John Virdin is director of the Coastal and Ocean Policy Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Virdin’s areas of expertise include assisting developing country governments to reform and strengthen governance of their ocean resources and particularly their fisheries, in order to help reduce poverty and enhance sustainability.  His work has focused most recently on fisheries governance reform in West Africa and Western Pacific tuna fisheries, as well as governance for the blue economy in the Caribbean, among others.

Prior to coming to Duke in early 2015, Virdin worked for more than 10 years at the World Bank, most recently as acting program manager for the Global Partnership for Oceans, a coalition of more than 150 governments, companies, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, and multi-lateral agencies. He advised the Bank on oceans and fisheries governance and helped it increase its lending for sustainable oceans to more than $1 billion. His work led to development of programs that provided more than $125 million in funding for improved fisheries management in six West African nations and some $40 million for fisheries and ocean conservation in a number of Pacific Island nations.

Prior to his tenure at the World Bank, Virdin worked with the World Resources Institute, the World Conservation Network, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Virdin holds a doctorate in marine policy from the University of Delaware’s School of Marine Policy, a master’s degree in environmental studies from Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wake Forest University.

Pacific Possible: Tuna Fisheries

This World Bank report outlines a best-case scenario whereby improved management of tuna fisheries allows Pacific Island countries to gain as much as US$344 million per year in additional sustainable revenues and create 7,500 to 15,000 jobs by 2040. The report recommends five policy strategies: increased regional integration, efficient fishing practices and catch limits, flexible access and harvest rights for fleets, investment in skills and labor, and inclusion of coastal communities in fisheries planning. The report builds on work undertaken by the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Pacific Community through the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries, which was endorsed by Pacific Island Forum leaders in 2015. It is part of the World Bank’s Pacific Possible series, which explores potentially transformative opportunities for Pacific Island countries that warrant further research, understanding, and policy action.

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Fisheries

Reports

Kim Wanke

Grants and Contracts Administrator

919-684-1135

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Kim Wanke joined the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions in June 2011. She provides grant management (new proposal processes to closeout) to the Nicholas Institute’s research staff. Previously, she worked at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. She has a bachelor's degree in environmental resource management and planning from the University of West Florida.  

Michael Young

Visiting Fellow

919-613-8709

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Areas of Expertise: water rights, environmental policy

Michael Young is a visiting fellow at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. He is also the research chair in water and environmental policy at the University of Adelaide, was the Founding Executive Director of its Environment Institute, is a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and is a distinguished fellow of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.

In the past, Michael has led teams that have developed frameworks for the introduction of a greenhouse gas emissions trading system in Australia. For three years, he worked on the integration of agricultural and environmental policies with OECD. He also played a key role in establishing Australia’s National Land and Water Resources Audit. 

A member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water Security, in 2010-11 he lead the water component of a UNEP study on opportunities to pursue green growth strategies throughout the world. He serves on the University of Alberta’s Water Initiative External Advisory Board. He was a founding member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.

In 2006, he was awarded Australia’s premier water research prize – the Land and Water Australia Eureka Award for Water Research. The award recognizes the significant contribution of his research with the late Jim McColl to the development of improved water entitlement, allocation and trading systems in Australia.

He is best known for his contribution to the development of natural resource and environmental policies. In recent times, his research has focused on the use and design of market-based instruments with attention to water.  He has played a critical role in the consideration of options for the Murray Darling Basin. Internationally, he is known for his capacity to integrate biophysical and economic information to produce innovative policy proposals that catalyze change.

He is an honorary professor with the University College London and, in 2012 spent several months in the United Kingdom working on water policy options for the Department of Environment, Food and Regional Affairs. This included consideration of ways to significantly reform water abstraction licensing and pricing arrangements.

In 2013, he spent several months with the OECD’s Environment Directorate working on a draft framework for the design of water abstraction regimes and options for the management of water scarcity challenges in the Netherlands.

Prior to joining the University of Adelaide, Mike spent 30 years with CSIRO where amongst other things he established their Policy and Economic Research Unit with offices in Adelaide, Canberra and Perth.

 

Doubling the Value of Water in the American West

Progress on water reform in the western United States has been slow. Little discussed are opportunities to increase the value of water rights and to improve the ways that they are defined. This policy note in Water Economics and Policy reflects on Unbundling Water Rights: A Blueprint for Development of Robust Water Allocation Systems in the Western United States, a Nicholas Institute report that builds on lessons from Australia’s search for a water rights and management framework that would increase the contribution that water makes to the economy, the environment, and communities.

Author: Mike Young

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Unbundling Water Rights: A Blueprint for Development of Robust Water Allocation Systems in the Western United States

This report lays out a blueprint for transitioning to robust water rights, allocation, and management systems in the western United States—a blueprint ready for pilot testing in Nevada’s Diamond Valley and Humboldt Basin. If implemented, the blueprint’s reforms would convert prior appropriation water rights into systems that keep water withdrawals within sustainable limits, allow rapid adjustment to changing water supply conditions, generate diverse income streams, and improve environmental outcomes. The blueprint’s essential element is unbundling of existing water rights. In law and economics, property rights are often described as a bundle of sticks. When applied to a water right, unbundling involves separating an existing right into its specific, component parts. In an unbundled system, each part is defined and can be managed and traded separately. During the unbundling process, as proposed here, the value of each component is enhanced, and the taking of property rights is avoided. Unbundling brings clarity to water rights and reveals the true value of the water, because willing buyers and sellers are able to trade with one another with dramatically reduced transaction costs. “Liquid markets” emerge. Shares, a primary product of the unbundling, can be used to finance innovation, and opportunities for improving environmental outcomes are increased through the transparent value of water rights shares and allocations. If water managers in Nevada find that an unbundled water rights system is more desirable than the current system, they can use this report’s proposed reforms and schedules to facilitate the transition to it. Although the state engineer and governor’s office may have sufficient perquisites to proceed without the support of new legislation, implementation would be easier if underpinned by legislation.

Author: Michael Young

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