News

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.

'Still a Valuable Act': Professors Discuss North Carolina's Commitment to U.S. Climate Alliance

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Sept. 20 that North Carolina will join 13 other states and Puerto Rico in the U.S. Climate Alliance—a bipartisan coalition committed to upholding the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Faculty Fellow Billy Pizer told The Chronicle that North Carolina's commitment to a state-level climate change alliance is mostly a symbolic gesture but still a meaningful one. He said a state-level alliance demonstrates the diversity of perspectives in the United States on climate change mitigation, especially when the federal government deviates from its original climate commitment.

'Price Carbon' or 'Leave us Alone': No Easy Answers for PJM ($)

A 10-second exchange on how to harmonize a patchwork of state energy policies within the PJM Interconnection grid illustrates the challenges discussed at an all-day conference, reported EnergyWire. Four panelists during an afternoon session were asked to summarize the best path forward and do so in three words or fewer: "Collaborate," "Price carbon," "two-tier pricing," and "Leave us alone." The exchange at the conference, organized by the Great Plains Institute and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, was good-natured and drew a burst of laughter from the audience gathered in a ballroom at the Westin Hotel in downtown Columbus. It also hit on the challenge of trying to get generators, consumer advocates, regulators and others across the 13-state PJM grid to agree on a path forward.

California Is Using Open Data to Provide Key Health, Water Information

Water boards have improved their use of modern data management to change public habits on critical water issues and are hoping to do more in the future, writes Steven Moore, vice chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, in Water Deeply. He references a report by the Aspen Institute and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions noting that much of the United States lacks the data needed to sustainably manage our water supplies and pursue innovative solutions to meet our water challenges. The report, “Internet of Water: Sharing and Integrating Water Data for Sustainability,” makes key recommendations for improving the accessibility of water data and engaging the public on issues important to them, like safe drinking water and water availability.

Will Graham Support for Carbon Tax Spur Senate Action? ($)

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has publicly endorsed a carbon tax, heightening the call for climate action and possibly laying the groundwork for a bipartisan push to address global warming. "There seems to be a coalescence around the idea that a price on carbon is the best way to allow the U.S. and its capitalist economy to tackle the problem," Tim Profeta, who served as environmental counsel to Sen. Joe Lieberman and was a principal architect of Lieberman and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's "Climate Stewardship Act of 2003, told ClimateWire. "Sen. Graham's reinvocation of these concepts means that there may be some ability to have conversations again about the bipartisan solution to climate change."

Awardees gather for a kickoff celebration at Duke in September. Credit: Jessica Sheffield.

Catalyst Program Awards Funds for First Research Projects

Six projects proposed by Duke faculty and staff have received funding from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Catalyst Program.

Duke Environmental Economics Doctoral Scholars (DEEDS) Program. Photos by Sanjog Sahu and David Kaczan.

Research Program Melds Economics and Environment

For four years, the Duke Environmental Economics Doctoral Scholars (DEEDS) Program has sought to provide Ph.D. students with the opportunity to explore the intersection of policy, economics, environmental science, and management around environmental topics. DEEDS gives students a sense of what it is like to conduct an independent research project that is directly relevant to policy processes.

Survey Gauges Top Leaders Views of Environmental Policy Landscape

In spring 2017, researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions set out to determine what and how a broad cross-section of thought leaders at private corporations, nonprofits, government agencies, and universities think about emerging environmental trends, risks, and opportunities. Through the Emerging Environmental Issues Survey, the researchers aimed to assess both the reach and the manageability of environmental change.

Ocracoke Island by William Britten Photography

The Blue Economy Makes Waves in Policy Circles

The blue economy concept could help policy makers more fully consider the marine environment together with economic growth to help meet the United Nation’s oceans sustainable development goal. John Virdin, director of the Ocean and Coastal Policy Program at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, is studying how governments in the United States and abroad might apply the blue economy concept to increase rates of economic return without depleting or damaging ocean ecosystems, which would put not only natural resources but also jobs and economic growth at risk.