Climate and Energy Program News

Kate Konschnik

Konschnik to Lead Climate and Energy Program

Kate Konschnik, a lecturer on law and executive director of Harvard's Environmental Law Program, has been named director of the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. She begins her role Dec. 1.

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Trump Moves to Cancel Landmark Obama Climate Change Rule

The Trump administration officially moved to kill the Obama-era climate change rule for power plants Tuesday, fulfilling a campaign pledge but setting off what is expected to be a bitter legal battle between the EPA and several states, health and environmental groups. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed an agency proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which would have sped the nation's shift away from coal-burning power plants and toward renewable power and natural gas, which emits less planet-warming carbon dioxide. Tim Profeta, director of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, told Politico that the EPA is nixing the rule now to keep the court from issuing a decision. “The court should decide the case that it has before it in order to clear up any dispute over the extent of EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants."

Analysts Say Repeal Reinforces Endangerment Finding ($)

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt today formally announced his plan to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, a move that analysts say implicitly reinforces the endangerment finding requiring oversight of greenhouse gases. Tim Profeta, director of Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, told E&E News that while the EPA's reasoning could tacitly back the endangerment finding, the administration simply has not come down on either side of the issue. "The agency's proposal today talks about the extent of the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, but it still assumes that authority does exist," Profeta said. "They just simply have not indicated what they want to do at this point."

The Death of the Carbon Tax Revenue Neutrality Myth

In The Hamilton Spector, Peter Shawn Taylor writes that the dream of a revenue-neutral carbon tax is over. The notion of carbon tax perfection has always centered on revenue neutrality—whatever governments reaped by taxing carbon dioxide emissions would be returned to taxpayers via tax cuts in other areas. He writes that B.C.'s commitment to carbon tax neutrality has since been promoted as a target for all other jurisdictions, citing a study by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University that called B.C.'s carbon tax a "textbook policy."

CPP Supporters Hope for Action by DC Circuit

Now that EPA has reversed its position on the legality of the Clean Power Plan, some supporters of the program say the appellate court that heard oral arguments a year ago should rule on the issue, reports RTO Insider. In proposing to repeal the CPP, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Tuesday that the Obama administration overreached its legal authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act by ordering generators to take actions “outside the fence line” of individual generators. Tim Profeta, director of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, said Tuesday that the D.C. Circuit should now rule on the case because of “the logic and judicial economy of the situation. You’ve got the court of jurisdiction having heard en banc the precise legal arguments that are being made in this rule. It’s fully briefed. It’s fully argued.” If the court doesn’t act on the case before it, he said, “they will probably have the same case before them in new litigation that would have to be briefed and argued all over again."

Coal War Games: How Pruitt and Perry are Working the System to Save Dirty Energy

In two important policy moves, Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry are both seeking to defend the same fiefdom: coal's dwindling domain as the ruling fuel for electric utility companies, reports Inside Climate NewsPruitt's order on Monday to revoke the Clean Power Plan and its controls on carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's coal-fired power plants displayed no rush to replace the rule.The irony here, of course, is that Pruitt wants to follow that noble principle to a frivolous fault, withdrawing a rule that was developed over several years and with extraordinary review and comment, and spinning it out into an endless future—to "game the system," as Tim Profeta, director of Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, put it.

Trump Team Kicks the Clean Power Plan into the Long Grass

Scott Pruitt, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said that he would issue a formal proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a regulation on power plants that would have reduced domestic demand for coal and curbed the country’s planet-warming emissions. Tim Profeta, director of Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solution told BBC News that the Clean Power Plan "was written with maximum flexibility. All the federal government did was set a target and it gave complete discretion to the state on how to hit the target. There was no picking of technology."

Repeal of Clean Power Plan Attempts to ‘Game the System,’ Expert Says

The Trump administration announced Monday it plans to repeal the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, comments.

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Trump Administration will Propose Repealing Obama’s Key Effort to Combat Climate Change

The Trump administration plans to scrap former president Barack Obama’s signature plan for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from the nation’s power plants, arguing that the previous administration overstepped its legal authority, according to a 43-page proposal obtained Thursday by The Washington Post. The proposal comes months after President Trump issued a directive instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rewriting the controversial 2015 regulation, known as the Clean Power Plan. Tim Profeta, who directs the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, said that it would make more sense to resolve the pending litigation than start a new rulemaking process given that EPA’s new proposal centers on the same question at issue in the case. “The key takeaway from President Trump’s proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan is that the D.C. Circuit should now rule on the legality of the Clean Power Plan,” Profeta said. “If the Trump rule was finalized, the same issues would once again come before the same court, but with the parties switching places, with the defenders of the Obama rule challenging the Trump rule, and vice versa.  Rather than allowing this to drag on further, the court should simply decide the case that it has before it and clear up any dispute over the extent of EPA’s authority.”

Climate Rule is Cheaper than EPA Estimated—Analysis ($)

Complying with the Clean Power Plan would cost significantly less than what U.S. EPA predicted in 2015, according to a new analysis. Economic and market factors such as falling costs of renewable energy — especially solar power—coupled with the dropping price of natural gas were behind the cheaper estimated compliance costs, said Denise Grab, Western regional director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law and co-author of the analysis. The article in ClimateWire also cites analysis by Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions on the Clean Power Plan.

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