News

We Can End Illegal Fishing in the Ocean

Overfishing is a key environmental challenge of our time. Experts estimate that, globally, 29 percent of assessed fish stocks are biologically overfished—up from 10 percent in 1970. Illegal, unregulated, or unreported fishing is a large contributor to this problem. John Virdin, director of the Ocean and Coastal Policy Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, writes in The Hill that in the past six months he's noticed a convergence of improved surveillance technology, public awareness, and government interest that could allow us to turn the tide on illegal fishing.

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Why Obama’s Clean Power Plan Could Mean Opportunity for Some Industries in Oklahoma

State-by-state differences in the sources from which states generate electricity could create an opportunity for industries in some states, including Oklahoma, Jonas Monast told StateImpact Oklahoma, a reporting project of NPR. Monast, the Climate and Energy Program director at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, said the Clean Power Plan gives states the flexibility to use the market in their favor and that it is “sending a market signal to the electricity sector putting it on a path for the next 10, 20 years and creating some investment certainty for utilities and for their shareholders so they can make more educated decisions about where to invest their money.”

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RGGI 'Largest Factor' in Member States' Emissions Decline -- Study ($)

When it comes to factors that influence the Northeast's greenhouse gas emissions, a lot happened between 2009 and 2012. The economy foundered. Natural gas boomed. States ratcheted up the use of emissions-free energy under renewable portfolio standards. And the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative came into effect. But a new study, published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Energy Economics, determined that program's rollout had a bigger effect than the financial crisis, low natural gas prices or renewable portfolio standards. Even when controlling for other factors, without RGGI, ClimateWire reports emissions would have been 24 percent higher in participating states.

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Trading Program Linked to Significant Emissions Reductions

The emissions trading program in the northeastern U.S. to limit carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector is responsible for about half the region’s emissions reductions – an amount far greater than reductions achieved in the rest of the country, according to a Duke University-led study. Published online this week in the journal, Energy Economics, the analysis used econometric methods to quantify emissions reductions due to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and those due to the recession, complementary environmental programs and lower natural gas prices. The report suggests that without the 2009 introduction of RGGI, undertaken by a consortium of states in the Northeast, the region’s emissions would have been 24 percent higher.

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Climate Capital: Assessing the Hidden Value of Coastal Ecosystems

The PLOS Student Blog reports on adaptation of a model proposed by Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions researchers Linwood Pendleton and Brian Murray, along with others, to put a monetary value on indirect value of coastal marine ecosystems. In the new effort, researchers were able to use that model to show a significant and positive impact of increasing the size of marine protected areas.

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Former Duke CEO Jim Rogers Takes on Lighting the World

In the Charlotte Observer, Nicholas Institute board member Jim Rogers looks at bringing electricity to the world’s poor and remote regions. The former Duke Energy CEO’s book on the topic, Lighting the World, will be published later this month. Ideas for the book were honed while Rogers co-taught a Duke University seminar on renewable energy and the world’s poor with Nicholas Institute Director Tim Profeta

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Cost and Legality of Clean Power Plan Debated

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' director Tim Profeta told MetroNews Talkline that the focus of legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan may be section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. The section, he noted, has been rarely used. The lack of precedent gives the EPA some flexibility in how it regulates while raising uncertainty about legal interpretation.

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Clean Power Plan Ratchets Up Burdens on Coal States ($)

States whose emissions standards became more stringent under the final Clean Power Plan may be eyeing opportunities for emissions trading, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Brian Murray told EnergyWire. "States facing more stringent standards under the final rule will generally find it more attractive to trade with other states, as it will be more expensive to meet the standard alone," he said. "Trading with other states will typically give the states with more stringent standards access to credits at a price that will be lower than the most expensive reductions in state."

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Industry, States Set to Fight EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules

Industry representatives and a group of state attorneys general are preparing to file lawsuits soon to challenge Obama administration rules requiring significant cuts in power-plant carbon emissions. The move, expected in the coming weeks, would open up a legal battle by contesting the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency on a wide range of grounds, some of them little explored by the courts. Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, comments in the Wall Street Journal.

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DIALOGUE: How Will US States Shape Up to Obama’s Clean Power Plan?

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' Brian Murray told Carbon Pulse that the final Clean Power Plan (CPP) widened the door for emissions trading with five changes, including allowing states plans to define a minimal set of “market ready” common elements that would allow trade without large administrative burden. These changes mean that the CPP could spur substantial growth of U.S. carbon markets. But until states choose the form of compliance (rate- or mass-based) and decide whether to adopt market-ready common elements for trading across states, it will be difficult to determine the scale and scope of the markets. 

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