Climate and Energy Program News

Solving Public Policy Questions with Tools of Math and Physics

In a profile story for the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Nicholas Institute Faculty Fellow Billy Pizer reflects on his career path, "If you had told me 25 years ago that I'd be working on climate change policy, and that I'd actually serve in the government doing this, I would have thought you were crazy. What I liked to do was solve math problems. I liked physics, I thought it was cool." 

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Nevada City Tests Blueprint for Buying, Selling Water Rights

In early spring 2017, Nevada's Diamond Valley is expected to test a blueprint for buying and selling water rights to redistribute the valley’s water. The trading should shift supply to where it’s needed most and should allow those with surplus supply to profit from it. The blueprint was developed by researchers at the Nicholas Institute and builds on lessons from Australia’s search for a water rights and management framework to keep water withdrawals within sustainable limits.

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Students Assess Whether Food Waste Could Help Duke Achieve Carbon Neutrality

Last fall, six Duke students assembled at Loyd Ray Farms, a project of the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative (DCOI), to learn how its hogs, in the words of one student, Andrew Seelaus, “are cranking out some of North Carolina’s most valuable carbon offsets and renewable energy credits.” Seelaus and the other five students—members of an energy-themed Bass Connections project partnering with the DCOI, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the Pratt School of Engineering, and the Nicholas School of the Environment—were out to learn whether an on-campus anaerobic digester could cost-effectively do for food waste what the digester at Loyd Ray Farms was doing for hog waste, thereby helping Duke meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2024.

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Class Offers Students a Chance to Experience Climate History

For some years, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ staff have helped lead a course that immerses students in the process of negotiating a global climate agreement. The United Nations Climate Negotiations Practicum course not only teaches students about international climate negotiations and policies under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—it takes them across the world to witness and be involved in the negotiations at one of the U.N.’s annual climate conferences. At the most recent conference in late 2015, students in the practicum course were part of history.

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Progress in Cutting Carbon

Rutland Herald opinion piece on cutting carbon emissions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), cites research from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions that shows RGGI has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 24 percent compared to a business-as-usual scenario. 

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Utility Experts Urge State Lawmakers to Continue Planning ($)

ClimateWire's roundup of the week's events makes mention of a Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions webinar on the effects of market conditions and the Clean Power Plan on states. The August 16 webinar will look at a new working paper on electricity industry trends and Clean Power Plan impacts on the U.S. generation mix, emissions and industry costs. The analysis suggests that industry trends are likely to make Clean Power Plan compliance relatively inexpensive; cost increases are likely to be on the order of 0.1 percent to 1 percent.

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Pennsylvania Unconventional Oil and Gas Development Contributes to Road Repair Costs in Surrounding States’ Counties

In a new study published in the Journal of Environmental Management, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Lauren Patterson and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Kelly Maloney report that transportation of waste associated with the development of unconventional oil and gas in Pennsylvania increases the cost of road repairs not only in Pennsylvania but in counties in the surrounding states of West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, and New York. Between July 2010 and December 2013, the estimated cost to repair roads damaged by trucks transporting unconventional oil and gas waste ranged from $3 million to $18 million. Although the majority of these costs were concentrated in Pennsylvania (79 percent), Ohio counties absorbed some of them (16 percent). 

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Redwoods Curb Global Warming, but California won't Invest in them

In the Mercury News, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions advisory board member Douglas Wheeler writes that scientists have found that California's old growth redwood trees have an extraordinary capacity to sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide, and thus to literally cleanse the air of a greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming. He suggests that without intending to do so, perhaps, these scientists have contributed to resolution of a roiling debate over the use of proceeds from California's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

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RGGI Market Status Report Points to CPP Compliance ($)

An E&E Publishing article on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative makes mention of a study by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University that found the nationwide cost to states for compliance with the Clean Power Plan will be "relatively inexpensive, with cost increases of 0.1% to 1.0%.

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Study Finds 'Relatively Inexpensive' State Compliance Costs ($)

EnergyWire reports that the nationwide cost to states for compliance with U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan will be "relatively inexpensive, with cost increases of 0.1% to 1.0%," according to new modeling released today by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. That modest increase in costs to consumers is attributed to the "electricity industry's already-underway shift from coal-fired generation to natural gas and renewables generation," said Martin Ross, senior research economist and the lead author of the 73-page report.

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