News

US: SCOTUS Decision Will Alter Timeline, Not Planning

The Supreme Court’s decision to halt implementation of the Clean Power Plan until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit makes a decision about the legal arguments will not stop states from planning compliance pathways or from working through some of the rule’s larger issues, the Nicholas Institute’s Jonas Monast told ICIS. “It may change the timing for the states,” Monast said. “But I expect a number of states to continue to explore their options. It is still a real possibility that the court upholds the rule.” Even states suing the EPA over the rule will likely continue to sort through the potential compliance options, because, as Monast said, “The risk is states could face a very tight timeline if they wait for a final decision.” Monast added that the U.S. power sector will continue to get cleaner because of technological advance, fuel-source economics, and regulatory changes. “The question going forward is does the EPA have to implement the Clean Power Plan in a different manner or under a different provision,” he said. “But it doesn’t prevent them [the EPA] from acting.”

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Duke Scholars on the Significance of the Paris Climate Agreement

At a forum moderated by Nicholas Institute director Tim Profeta and featuring Duke students and experts who attended climate negotiations in Paris in December, the Nicholas Institute’s Brian Murray said that the specific goal for limiting temperature rise “evolved from a bit of a pipedream—or a strong hope by environmental activists around the world—to an actual reality that was written in the text.” Billy Pizer, a faculty fellow at the Nicholas Institute, said that regular contributions to climate change mitigation by China and India are “a huge development.”

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Liquid Assets: A Maverick Hedge Fund Manager Thinks Wall Street Is the Answer to the Water Crisis in the West

A story co-published by Pro Publica and the Atlantic profiles Nicholas Institute board member Disque Deane and his idea that Wall Street has a better solution than the government to the West’s water woes. Allowing people to buy and sell water rights would discourage waste, shift water to where it’s needed most, and compensate farmers holding water rights, argues Deane, who sees a water market similar to what he envisions in Australia, where the government backed a cap-and-trade system. “We have a very simple rule, which is that if somebody wants more water, you have to figure out who gets less,” Pro Publica quoted Nicholas Institute visiting fellow Mike Young.

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Duke University Hosts Discussion on Paris Climate Talks

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions director Tim Profeta spoke at Duke University as a member of a panel of Duke University attendees at last month’s United Nations climate conference in Paris. The event explored the significance of that conference and how the Duke community is involved in climate action.

 

 

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Does Coal or Gas use More Water? It's Complicated ($)

Switching from coal- to gas-fired power reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but the transition's net effect on water consumption is a more complicated calculation, according to a working paper from Duke and Harvard universities. EnergyWire reports that Pennsylvania's coal-to-gas conversion resulted in an annual 2.6 to 8.4 percent increase in water use across the state. On a local level, though, the net effect was tied to available natural gas resources and pre-existing power-generating infrastructure.

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New Report Finds Near-Term Update to Social Cost of Carbon Unwarranted

There would not be sufficient benefit to updating estimates of the social cost of carbon (SCC) within a year based only on the revision of a specific climate parameter in the existing framework used by the government's interagency group to measure the SCC, says a new interim report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The committee, which includes Billy Pizer, a faculty fellow of the Nicholas Institute and professor in the Sanford School, recommended ways to change federal technical support documents on the SCC to enhance the characterization of uncertainties associated with the estimates, including when used in regulatory impact analyses.

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Duke Kunshan to Offer New Professional Degree in Environmental Policy

Duke Kunshan University will offer a new international master’s degree in environmental policy (IMEP) beginning in the fall of 2017. The four-semester, 16-course program is designed to meet the growing global need for leaders who are versed in both Chinese and international environmental issues and policies. Billy Pizer of the Sanford School and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutionsis among the faculty members that spearheaded the program’s creation.

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Reflecting on the Paris Climate Conference

What was accomplished at the United Nation's Climate Change Conference in Paris? Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy Dean Kelly Brownell talks with Billy Pizer, Sanford professor and faculty fellow with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, about the outcome. Pizer says the structure of the agreement is one that he's excited about, particularly because it considers how hard countries are trying to make change. "I'm optimistic that once we have the right incentives and the commitments in place, we'll actually do a lot more things that people couldn't even imagine," Pizer said.

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As Water Use in Gas Extraction Grows,Use in Coal Extraction Declines

A new study co-authored by researchers at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, and the University of Calgary provides the first comprehensive representation of changing water consumption patterns associated with fuel extraction and power generation, the Resources for the Future blog reports.

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Coal-to-Gas Transition Alters Pennsylvania Water Consumption

Extraction of coal and natural gas and power generation from both fuels contributed to a yearly 2.6 to 8.4 percent increase in water consumption in Pennsylvania during the early stages of the coal-to-gas transition from 2009 to 2012. However, impacts varied across the state as some areas experienced no change or large decreases in water consumption, according to a new working paper examining the water implications of Pennsylvania’s energy extraction and generation choices.

 

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