Tim Profeta

Tim Profeta

Director, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

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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.

Society Is Ready for a New Kind of Science—Is Academia?

Never before have we had such a clear understanding of environmental crises and yet been so far from delivering investment in actionable research, write the authors of this article in BioScience. They suggest that researchers are ready to engage but ask whether universities—both leaders and the faculty who govern—will provide the infrastructure and foster the culture needed to turn ideas into action. If science is to serve society and the planet, they argue, universities will need to (1) produce not only professors but also future environmental leaders, (2) cultivate a culture that values use-inspired research, (3) accelerate the translation of ideas into action, (4) put people at the center of environmental science, and (5) reimagine academic structures.

Authors: Bonnie L. Keeler, Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Anne D. Guerry, Prue F.E. Addison, Charles Bettigole, Ingrid C. Burke, Brad Gentry, Lauren Chambliss, Carrie Young, Alexander J. Travis, Chris T. Darimont, Doria R. Gordon, Jessica Hellmann, Peter Kareiva, Steve Monfort, Lydia Olander, Tim Profeta, Hugh P. Possingham, Carissa Slotterback, Eleanor Sterling, Tamara Ticktin, and Bhaskar Vira

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Journal Articles

Revisiting the NAAQS Program for Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act

The future is uncertain for the regulation of greenhouse gases from power plants, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which covers existing plants. The rule is under review in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court has indicated its interest in hearing the case. Moreover, during his presidential campaign, president-elect Donald Trump promised to “scrap” the Clean Power Plan. If the rule is overturned or is severely weakened, whether through litigation or executive action, stakeholders are likely to litigate to seek to force the EPA to use other authorities under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

This working paper examines the opportunities and challenges associated with regulation of greenhouse gases under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program, drawing a comparison with the Clean Power Plan’s approach under a different section of the Clean Air Act. The paper offers no opinion on the Clean Power Plan litigation, nor does it advocate for the Clean Power Plan or the NAAQS approach. Its focus is on understanding how the NAAQS program might incorporate greenhouse gases in in the event that the EPA pursues that approach.

Authors: Christina Reichert, Franz Litz, Jonas Monast, Tim Profeta, and Sarah Adair

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Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Environmental Economics

State Policy

Working Papers

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

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

Working Papers