News

Environmental Groups: How U.S. Supreme Court's EPA Ruling Could Impact North Carolina

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency erred by not accounting for the economic cost of the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards, which required coal-fired power plants to install scrubbers that limit the release of mercury and other pollutants. Jonas Monast, director the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, tells the Triangle Business Journal that the immediate effects of the ruling on North Carolina are likely to be limited because many power plants in the state have already moved to comply with the EPA regulations.

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Checklist Lays Out Legislative Questions for Officials Weighing Clean Power Plan ($)

A report by the National Conference of State Legislatures points out that state legislative action will be needed for multistate Clean Power Plan compliance efforts and says that state lawmakers may want to adopt common definitions to allow states to trade emissions reductions, an idea, notes ClimateWire, fleshed out by Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

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Water and Big Data: 21st Century Solution to 21st Century Droughts

In the Contra Costa Times, the Nicholas Institute's Lauren Patterson and Martin Doyle write that California should be taking the lead in water management—much like it's led on climate issues—by using smart water metering, sensors and data analytics for utilities. They say that investing in water metering and data analytics could help California better manage the water it has in times of drought and beyond.

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Researcher Named to Prestigious Environmental Board

DURHAM, N.C.—Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Lydia Olander was sworn in to serve a three-year term with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board this week.

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To Meet Obama’s Carbon-Cutting Goals, States Work Together

States may be suing the Obama administration over a new effort to slash the carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, but they’re also exploring the most efficient ways to comply with a rule that will accelerate the displacement of coal and alter the energy sources of utilities. One major theme that’s emerging: finding ways to work across state lines. This article in Governing mentions the Nicholas Institute’s work ongoing series of workshops for Southeastern officials to explore compliance pathways and to weigh their tradeoffs.

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Virginia, Coal Country for Centuries, Now Embraces Carbon Regulations

This Inside Climate News story notes that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is already preparing for the Clean Power Plan’s final release by this summer. Officials have been meeting with stakeholders, including utility companies and green leaders, as well as with climate and energy experts at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University and the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown University.

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Drinking from the Cloud

In a blog in The Hill, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Julie DeMeester and Martin Doyle report that outdated systems for monitoring drinking water, combined with aging infrastructure, cause us to lose approximately 14 percent of drinking water annually. “This is water that has been stored, pumped, treated and distributed, at great cost, but generates no revenue for the utility,” the researchers said. The solution?

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EPA Clean Power Plan Reenergizes the U.S. Climate Policy Debate

For the first time this summer, the nation’s fleet of existing power plants will face limits on carbon dioxide emissions. Depending on whom you ask, the release of the EPA’s final Clean Power Plan is either an important step in addressing the challenge of climate change, an example of overreach by the federal government or largely insignificantUnderstanding the structure and potential impacts of the Clean Power Plan requires some context, which the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' Jonas Monast discusses in The Conversation.

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Comparing and Assessing Efforts to Limit Emissions

Faculty fellow Billy Pizer told John Munson, guest host of Wisconsin NPR’s Joy Cardin Show, that a climate deal in which national emissions reduction commitments are based on cuts from 1990 levels may not be that helpful. More fruitful is how much countries are doing now to reduce their emissions. The best outcome, he said, is a deal that everyone feels good about and that produces a mechanism that makes action on commitments transparent.

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USDA Acting Chief Economist Goes to Bat for Wood Pellets ($)

A journal article co-authored by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Christopher Galik was cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s acting chief economist Robert Johansson in a blog on the emerging wood pellet market in the southern United States. The article found that although wood pellet demand from Europe is likely to increase the number of tree removals from southeastern forests, it will lead to an increase in the Southeast’s forest coverage and annual carbon storage.

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