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Marc Edwards, Scientific Crusader Who Exposed the Flint Water Crisis to Speak on April 9

Marc Edwards, the civil engineering professor whose investigative science and advocacy helped expose the Flint Water Crisis, will present a free public lecture at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment on Monday, April 9. Edwards’ talk, “Truth-Seeking in an Age of Tribalism: Lessons from the Flint Water Crisis,” will be at 6 p.m. at Love Auditorium in the Levine Science Research Center on Duke’s West Campus. It is the 2018 Ferguson Family Distinguished Lectureship in the Environment and Society. Other sponsors of this year’s Ferguson Lecture include the School of Law, Sanford School of Public Policy, and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Crossing Boundaries to Meet Our Energy Needs

Duke University has become a force in energy research, education, and engagement. Philanthropy from donors has continued the momentum of cultivating collaboration among more than 100 different kinds of energy researchers and cross-training students as energy innovators. Recently, electric utility Duke Energy’s former CEO Jim Rogers and his wife, M.A., gave $1.5 million to found the Energy Access Project, a partnership between the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the Duke University Energy Initiative, Sanford School of Public Policy, the Nicholas School of the Environment and Bass Connections at Duke. Faculty, staff and students across disciplines seek to develop actionable solutions to the challenge of the billions of people worldwide living with little to no access to electricity or lacking access to modern cooking technologies. “Whether and how the billions of people on the planet lacking modern energy gain access to it in the coming years has massive implications for global security, public health, and the environment,” said the Nicholas Institute's Jonathan Phillips, director of the Energy Access Project. “Duke’s full engagement on this issue is a shining example for how its service to society and interdisciplinary collaboration missions are coming together to develop solutions to one of the hardest, most important challenges of our time.”

Study by Konschnik Among Journal's Most Significant of 2017

An article on underground natural gas storage facilities published in the journal Environmental Research Letters and co-authored by Kate Konschnik, director of the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, was among the journal's top 30 articles of 2017. The articles in the "Highlights of 2017" collection were chosen on the basis of reviewer and editor endorsement, significance, scientific impact, and breadth of appeal.

Doyle Among the Recipients of 2018 Dean’s Awards

Martin Doyle, director of the Water Policy Program at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, was honored March 28 during the Graduate School's annual Dean's Awards, which recognize outstanding efforts in mentoring, teaching, and creating an inclusive environment for graduate education at Duke. Doyle received the Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring.

Companies Hope to Turn Trash into Treasure

More and more consumers are worrying about the environment, and companies are taking note. According to a 2015 Nielsen study, 58 percent of people willing to pay more for a product were influenced by a brand being environmentally friendly. This ecological purchasing influence coincides with many new companies making innovative products with recycled material. Although it's hard to know definitively if these two trends are linked, Billy Pizer, a professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke and a faculty fellow at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, tells Yahoo Finance that companies increasingly appeal to consumers' environmentally friendly nature. "[Consumers] just care more about the environment," Pizer said. "Environmental problems are more palpable now than they were 10 or 15 years ago." 

President Xi Supersizes Environmental Agency ($)

China has consolidated and strengthened its environmental regulatory bureaucracy in a "superagency," a move environmentalists say will support its domestic greenhouse gas rules and help deliver China's current commitment to the Paris climate accord. The change came last week as part of an overhaul of China's government aimed at elevating the priorities of President Xi Jinping, who recently became president for life. The government hopes to complete it this year. Jackson Ewing, a senior fellow with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, told a ClimateWire that Xi's objective in making the change was to signal again that China is entering a period of "cleaner, more balanced growth ... not as solely focused on economic growth, but rather on some steady but important environmental advances as part of his mandate and part of what he wants his legacy to be."

Beijing is Fundamentally Changing its Environmental Governance, but will it Work?

On March 13, China announced its most significant environmental governance reforms of this decade. Coming on the heels of President Xi Jinping securing the possibility of long-term presidential powers, the State Council presented draft plans to consolidate environmental policymaking in the newly formed Ministry of Ecological Environment. Jackson Ewing, a senior fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and an adjunct associate professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy, writes in The Diplomat that the effectiveness of this new ministry will inform not only China’s environmental future, but also its stability, its socioeconomic ambitions, and global efforts to address environmental challenges.

Portrait of Jackson Ewing

News Tip: Expert Available for Comment on China’s Environment Ministry Restructuring

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, March 14, 2018

China’s 10-year-old Ministry of Environmental Protection will be transformed into the wider-reaching Ministry for Ecological Environment, and will absorb environmental duties formerly held by the land, water and agriculture ministries. The changes are expected to be approved Saturday.

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Energy Access Project director Jonathan Phillips speaks to Andrew Herscowitz, coordinator, USAID/Power Africa, about the evolution of the Power Africa Initiative during EAP Launch event.

Seven Takeaways from the Energy Access Project Launch

Some of the leading lights from the energy access community convened in Washington, D.C., February 23 for the launch of Duke University’s Energy Access Project. As the new project assembles its agenda, leaders from business, government, and civil society weighed in on the market and policy challenges facing the billions of people lacking access to modern energy. Here’s some of what we heard.

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.