News

We Can Reduce Methane Emissions. Here’s How.

In 2016 U.S., Canadian and Mexican leaders pledged to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025. Canada is just beginning to propose regulatory limits on methane. But Mexico has made only nonbinding pledges, and the Trump administration is rolling back federal methane standards. Nevertheless, write the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Kate Konschnik and her co-author Sarah Jordaan in the News & Observer, states, industry, academics, and nongovernmental organizations are advancing methane measurement and mitigation efforts. They are acting despite deep uncertainty—the magnitude of leaks from oil and gas infrastructure remains disputed and insufficiently measured—and against a backdrop of rapidly evolving research. But to be effective, these actors need to work in concert, fully informed by the latest science. In a newly published article in Climate Policy, Konschnick and Jordaan suggest a North American Methane Reduction Framework to coordinate regulation, voluntary actions, and scientific developments. This approach could bridge the divide between science and policy, and drive new research that in turn can support better federal policies when governments are ready to act.

Rivers Run Through Us: Six Questions on the Future of our Waterways

For American Scholar, Martin Doyle, director of the the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Water Policy Program, poses six questions on the future of waterways. Doyle just penned a book The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers, documents the complex history of our nation’s waterways, taking into consideration such subjects as politics, ecology, and economics. 

Jim Rogers

Duke University Introduces Energy Access Project in D.C.

Leaders from business, government, civil society and academia convened in Washington, D.C., on February 23 to explore one of the world's most pressing challenges at Accelerating Global Energy Access, the formal introduction to Duke University's Energy Access Project. Nearly a third of humanity lacks reliable electricity and three billion people are without clean fuels and technologies for cooking. At the event, Energy Access Project staff and sector leaders examined ways to tackle the energy access challenge in conversation on the use of renewables, so-called last mile electrification, and financing to support viable pathways to sustainable and modern energy solutions for all.

To Slow Climate Change, the U.S. Needs to Address Nuclear Power’s Dismal Economics

In late December 2017, the Georgia Public Service Commission faced a major decision: whether to cancel construction of two nuclear power reactors at Plant Vogtle, near Waynesboro, which had been plagued by delays and escalating costs. Now the only large-scale nuclear construction underway in the United States, nuclear advocates called the unanimous vote to allow construction at Vogtle to continue a win for the economy and the environment. In reality, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Director Tim Profeta writes in The Conversation, the decision says more about the challenges facing the nuclear industry in the 21st century. If nuclear power is to be part of a U.S. climate change strategy over the next century, policymakers must address its increasingly precarious economics.

Looking for Lessons along the Colorado River

In a series of stories on the Colorado River, the New Mexico Political Report covered the forging of the Colorado River Compact, quoting Water Policy Program director Martin Doyle's The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers. The book describes how, with a view to “limiting the potential for observers and interlopers," then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover sequestered Colorado River Commission members at a remote ranch in New Mexico. The ensuing talks, writes Doyle, “were held with only the delegate and advisors (an engineering adviser and a legal adviser) from each state; this approach minimized outside or lobbying during the actual talks and allowed the commissioners to negotiate concessions without immediately infuriating their state interests. These conditions, combined with Hoover’s constant cajoling and needling and prodding, resulted in a compact that hinged on a great compromise.”

Deep in the Grand Canyon, Scientists Struggle to Bring Back the Bugs

A hydroelectric dam disrupted the intricate food web of the Colorado River. Now a ragtag team of researchers and river guides are trying to repair it. In UnDark magazine the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Martin Doyle writes about how deep in the Grand Canyon scientists struggle to bring back the bugs

Solar Tariffs to Affect World's Poorest

The Trump administration's solar tariff announcement has spurred lively debate in the U.S. around whether these trade barriers are good or bad for businesses and workers, and to what extent cost increases will soften solar demand in the U.S. But on the other side of the globe, Duke-University Energy Access Project staff Jonathan Phillips and Hannah Girardeau write in Devex that there is a similar debate roiling around the treatment of solar panels and related equipment in trade policy that could make the stakes even higher for energy consumers across sub-Saharan Africa.

The Rich History of America’s Rivers

American rivers from the mighty Mississippi on down have changed the way Americans works, play and live. In an interview with WBUR On Point, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Water Policy Program director Martin Doyle discusses that rich history featured in his new book “The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers."

How to Reduce Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Industry Across North America

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Climate and Energy Program director Kate Konschnik and her co-author Sarah Jordaan write in The Conversation that a North American Methane Reduction Framework to coordinate regulations, voluntary industry actions and scientific developments in methane estimation and mitigation could help bridge the divide between science and policy. They discuss the framework and their newly published synthesis article that suggests this framework could drive new research that in turn can support better policies when governments are ready to act.

Ex-Utility CEO Goes Off the Grid ($)

ClimateWire feature story focused on former CEO of Duke Energy Corp Jim Rogers's work to distribute solar lights and other clean energy devices in developing nations quotes Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Tim Profeta and mentions a new Energy Access Project at Duke University.