Environmental Economics Program News

An Inconvenient Truth: We Could be Fighting about Climate Change for a While Yet

CBC News cites a study co-authored by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' Brian Murray that indicates  that support for British Columbia's carbon tax increased after it was implemented, perhaps after it failed to result in economic ruin.

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Imagine an Internet of Water

The Nicholas Institute's Martin Doyle and Lauren Patterson write that we live in a water world that is data rich, but information poor. Public agencies—from the federal government to state to local municipalities—collect tremendous amounts of data, but those data are used for narrow, specific purposes. If those same data were shared openly, Doyle and Patterson say, and then integrated in a common digital platform, there would be game-changing opportunities. 

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Student Team’s Success in Energy Case Competition is Powered by the Unique Duke Experience

A Duke University undergraduate team has taken top honors in the North American division of Schneider Electric’s 2017 Go Green in the City case competition, which focuses on sustainable energy approaches in urban environments. The students trace their own energy management solution back to a 2015-16 Bass Connections in Energy team. Led by Jim Rogers, former Duke Energy CEO, and Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the Bass Connections team designed student projects focused on off-grid electricity access, which were then funded through Duke Engage.

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Oil Field Spills Down 17% Last Year ($)

EnergyWire reports that a review of spill records indicates that spills declined about 17 percent during 2016 compared to the previous year. The decrease makes sense to Lauren Patterson, a researcher at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions who authored a study earlier this year on oil and gas spills (Greenwire, Feb. 21). She found that most spills happen in the first three years of a well's life. "If there's fewer new wells, I would expect the number of spills to decrease," Patterson said.

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Q&A: Increasing Emissions Certainty under a Carbon Tax

Some organizations and individuals have expressed interest in a carbon tax as the primary federal policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but such a tax leaves the emissions outcome uncertain. In an issue of the Harvard Environmental Law Review focusing on carbon taxes, three researchers affiliated with Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions examine options for increasing emissions certainty. Brian Murray, Billy Pizer, and Christina Reichert discuss how these options could respond to deviations from identified emissions goals as well as identify the challenges and opportunities associated with different approaches.

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A Look at how Trump's Climate Moves affect the Coal Industry

President Donald Trump says withdrawing from a global climate change agreement will boost the U.S. economy, but existing market forces have had far more of an effect on the fossil fuel industries than climate regulations. Utilities "are not going to flip on a dime and say now it's time to start building a whole bunch of coal plants because there's a Trump administration," Brian Murray, director of environmental economics at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, tells the Associated Press.

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Joint Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord

We are the leaders of four units at Duke University that collaborate on advancing an accessible, affordable, reliable, and clean energy system for our state, our country, and the world. We regard this challenge as one of the most pressing questions facing society in the 21st century, and one on which we should all be focused.

We pursue our goal by educating the leaders of tomorrow, conducting research that leads to innovative energy solutions, and engaging with decision makers in the public and private sectors to turn this knowledge into practice.

Our approach transcends political ideology.

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Can Coal Come Back?

President Donald Trump said he was helping the coal industry with an executive order instructing regulators to rewrite key rules reducing U.S. carbon emissions and other environmental regulations from the Obama administration. Brian Murray, director of the Environmental Economics Program at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, tells the Longview News Journal that utilities "are not going to flip on a dime and say now it's time to start building a whole bunch of coal plants because there's a Trump administration."

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Building a Blue Economy in North Carolina

The ocean economy contributed $2.1 billion and 43,385 jobs to North Carolina’s economy in 2013, according to a new report by North Carolina Sea Grant and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Ocean and coastal resources played an even larger role in the state’s coastal counties, providing 6.5 percent of gross domestic product, or GDP, and supporting 13 percent of employment. And according to “North Carolina’s Ocean Economy: A First Assessment and Transitioning to a Blue Economy” report co-author Tibor Vegh, these figures are most likely low. “Our estimates represent a snapshot in time only for the sectors where we could find economic data,” Vegh, a policy analyst with the Nicholas Institute, tells CoastWatch.

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Duke Delays Asking Trustees for Vote on Power Plant

Plans for a gas-turbine power plant at Duke University ran into another delay Tuesday, with administrators saying they’ll hold off on asking campus trustees to green-light the $55 million project, reports the Herald Sun. The decision, announced by Executive Vice President Tallman Trask, means soon-to-depart Duke President Richard Brodhead’s staff “will not be bringing a proposal forward for approval by the [trustees] in May.” That likely means future deliberations on the project will unfold after incoming President Vince Price takes over for Brodhead on July 1. Tuesday’s announcement coincided with the release of a campus study group’s report, led by Nicholas Institute director Tim Profeta, advising Duke officials to assess whether there are “sufficient volumes of biogas”—captured waste gas from hog farms, as opposed to natural gas extracted from wells—to fuel the turbine and make it carbon-netural in its first year in service.

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