News - Martin Ross

The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI)—a collection of Northeast and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia—is considering a carbon price on transportation fuels, with revenues to be invested in modernizing the transportation sector. Three organizations—Resources for the Future (RFF), Environmental Defense Fund, and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions—organized a two-day virtual workshop to inform conversations among the states about how this effort can be most effective.

An article in The Guardian highlights a special issue in the journal Energy Economics featuring carbon tax modeling studies conducted through the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum Project.

Researchers at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions have developed a deep understanding of both the electricity sector’s potential responses to regulatory, market, and technology changes and the emissions consequences of those responses. Our legal analyses and modeling have provided a solid foundation to help states address their own distinct decision-making challenges amid uncertainty, which has only deepened as the Trump administration looks to roll back Obama-era climate policies.

EnergyWire reports that the nationwide cost to states for compliance with U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan will be "relatively inexpensive, with cost increases of 0.1% to 1.0%," according to new modeling released today by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. That modest increase in costs to consumers is attributed to the "electricity industry's already-underway shift from coal-fired generation to natural gas and renewables generation," said Martin Ross, senior research economist and the lead author of the 73-page report.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is likely to intensify the electricity industry’s already-underway shift from coal-fired generation to natural gas and renewables generation. A new working paper uses Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model to evaluate Clean Power Plan impacts on the U.S. generation mix, emissions, and industry costs. Lead author Martin Ross, a senior research economist with the Nicholas Institute’s Environmental Economics Program, says that Clean Power Plan compliance costs, although relatively inexpensive from a national perspective, are highly variable from state to state. Those cost differentials could mean that rather than pursuing a coordinated national approach to the Clean Power Plan, some states may adopt a patchwork of policies that serve their own best interests but potentially impose additional costs on neighboring states. When it comes to estimating state-level Clean Power Plan costs, says Ross, the devil is in the details or rather in how many states choose the same details for their Clean Power Plan compliance.

States could halve the costs of implementing U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan if they work with other states and use a mass-based standard to cap emissions outright, according to a new study from Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. ClimateWire reports that researchers examined three major choices regulators must make as they craft proposals for cutting carbon emissions from power plants to meet their states' individual goals. They looked at the effects of choosing rate-based vs. mass-based standards and regional vs. individual plans, as well as incorporating new natural gas combined-cycle plants into the targets.

With the right policy choices, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan can be flexible and cost-effective for states, according to a working paper from Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The Clean Power Plan uses a provision under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants in the United States through interim state-level emissions rate goals (2020-2030) and a final 2030 emissions rate limit. It gives states flexibility to decide how to meet their interim and final emissions reduction goals. The Duke study outlines the tradeoffs of three policy options: opting for state-specific, rate-based goals laid out in the proposed plan versus converting that rate into a mass-based standard; identifying how trading credits within state borders or with other states affect the cost of compliance with the rule; and determining whether to include under the rule new natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units that produce electricity and capture their waste heat to increase efficiency.