News

Trump Moves Decisively to Wipe out Obama’s Climate-Change Record

President Trump will take the most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor’s environmental record Tuesday, instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing U.S. carbon emissions. The sweeping executive order also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions. Tim Profeta, who directs Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, told The Washington Post that regulators from more than a half-dozen states in the Southeast are now talking about how to chart their own path forward. Having met for nearly three years, the group stopped discussing how to comply with the Clean Power Plan after November’s election, but it is still talking. “We are now talking about the evolution of the power sector in an environment of uncertainty,” Profeta said. “We’re seeing the beginning of states taking control of their destiny.”

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Bridging Gaps: Cross-Sector Collaboration is the Future of Sustainable Business

In a blog post for Thrive, the Nicholas Institute's Lydia Olander and her co-authors emphasize how cross-sector collaboration is the future of sustainable business. The Bridge Collaborative, co-led by four key organizations—Duke University, PATH, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and The Nature Conservancy—are connecting the health, environment, and development communities to develop the evidence for results that support shared solutions to global challenges. 

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Public Meeting on Proposed CHP Plant at Duke Monday

The public will be able to comment on a proposal by Duke Energy to build a new natural gas combined heat and power (CHP) plant on Duke University’s campus at a meeting on Monday evening. The university’s Campus Sustainability Committee has been charged with making recommendations on the plant, which will be released in early April. The public comments will help inform the university’s decision to proceed with or withdraw from the plant proposal. Committee co-chair Tim Profeta, who is the director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, will moderate Monday’s session, which will run from 6:30-8 p.m. in Gross Hall on Science Drive.

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Catalyst Program Awards Funding for Environmental-Policy-Focused Research

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions has created a program that aims to prompt additional collaborations and support expansions of existing partnerships between Duke faculty and Nicholas Institute staff on research, convenings and the like.

The Catalyst Program will provide awards of up to $20,000 for use during the 2018 fiscal year to each successful proposal.

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A Delayed Winter Forum: Students Look at Failures in U.S. Energy Access

When lights burn all night and heat is plentiful on the Duke campus, it can be hard for students to fathom that there are people down the road who lack the money to pay for electricity. How that can be true—and how to rectify the problem—were topics touched upon at Duke’s 2017 Winter Forum, Power to the People: Tackling Energy Inequality through Clean Energy Solutions. Brian Murray, Environmental Economics Program director at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and interim director of the Duke University Energy Initiative, both of which co-sponsored the annual global issue forum for undergraduates, told students: “We see a substantial part of the world’s population unable to meet their most basic energy needs.Even in our own backyard of Durham, there are people who may have physical access to energy but face great economic hardship in meeting their energy needs. We view it as a moral imperative to provide greater access to affordable, reliable and clean energy for all.” 

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As Trump Targets Carbon Rules, Green Groups Promise a Legal Fight ‘at Every Step’

With President Trump poised to issue an executive order aimed at undoing a key pillar of the Obama administration’s climate-change agenda, environmental activist groups have joined forces for what they say will be a tooth-and-nail legal battle that could drag on for years. “Altering a final rule, like the Clean Power Plan, isn’t as simple as the stroke of a pen. It will likely require the EPA to undertake a new rulemaking process including public notice and comment that could last a few years,” Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, told The Washington Times.

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News Tip: Expert Available to Comment on Climate Rules Executive Order

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to dismantle Obama-era climate rules, including the Clean Power Plan, which sets limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fueled power plants. Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions director Tim Profeta is available for comment.

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Energy Star Program Could be Targeted for Budget Cut

Congress is awaiting President Donald Trump's budget proposal with the details about his vision of government, and some preliminary elements of that plan are trickling out. According to some reports, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may lose as much as a quarter of its budget. The Energy Star Program, which identifies and promotes energy efficiency in products, could be targeted. Billy Pizer, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions faculty fellow and Sanford School of Public Policy professor, comments for Marketplace.

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In the Past Decade, Fracking Caused Nearly 2 Spills a Day in Just These 4 States

Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and North Dakota saw more than 6,600 spills from fracking wells — or more than one spill for every five wells — from 2005 to 2014, according to a study released Wednesday by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The results suggest that the oil and gas industry needs to have stronger, more consistent reporting requirements for spills, which can include oil, chemical-laden water, and other substances, researchers said. “As this form of energy production increases, state efforts to reduce spill risk could benefit from making data more uniform and accessible to better provide stakeholders with important information on where to target efforts for locating and preventing future spills,” lead author Lauren Patterson told ThinkProgress.

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The Southeast Has an Energy Problem, and Minorities Are Hit the Hardest

Energy poverty has become so severe in the Southeast, the Pacific Standard reports, that many households pay 600 percent more of their annual income on energy than the national average. The article cites research by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Georgia Institute of Technology that indicates that the South is the largest and fastest growing region in the United States, with 36% of the nation’s population and a considerably larger share of the nation’s total energy consumption (44%) and supply (48%). At a simplistic level residents of the south are using more energy per square foot than their counterparts in the rest of the nation.

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