News

Experts: If Clean Power Plan Perishes, GHG Regulation Almost Certain under NAAQS Program

If the Clean Power Plan is scrapped or weakened, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may be forced to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted by existing power plants under its National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program, reports PowerMag.com in an article detailing findings from a just-released working paper by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the University of North Carolina’s Center for Climate, Energy, Environment & Economics. “If the ultimate decision is that the EPA either cannot regulate existing fossil fuel-fired power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act or cannot include generation shifting when setting the rule’s stringency, then stakeholders may seek to use NAAQS,” said the paper’s authors. “Further, President-Elect Donald Trump has stated he would ‘scrap’ the Clean Power Plan. If he does, then stakeholders would likely sue, seeking to force the EPA to use the NAAQS program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

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Nicholas Institute Publishes Paper on CO2 Strategy ($)

Even if judges or his successor scrap President Barack Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, federal law gives regulators and interest groups other ways to push the issue, a team that includes researchers from Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and UNC Chapel Hill said in a paper released today. The paper authors say that one likely channel is an expansion of the “ambient” air-quality standards that now target well-known pollutants like carbon monoxide, lead and ozone, the Durham Herald Sun reports.

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NAAQS May Help EPA Achieve Greenhouse Gas Reductions, Should Clean Power Plan not Survive Challenges

Legal challenges and the recent U.S. presidential election have left the future uncertain for the Clean Power Plan, which regulates greenhouse gases from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act. Should the Clean Power Plan be weakened or not survive challenges, then stakeholders may litigate in an attempt to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use other authorities under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Authors of a new working paper by the Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the University of North Carolina’s Center for Climate, Energy, Environment, and Economics examine how the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program might be used to regulate greenhouse gases in the future to achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals if the EPA must take this approach.

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Proposed Carbon Tax Equals Higher Fuel, Utility Prices; Southern Utah Representatives Respond

In an effort to address climate change and clean air issues in Utah, Rep. Joel Briscoe of House District 25 recently stated he intends to propose a carbon tax during the 2017 legislative session similar to that enacted in 2008 by British Columbia. The St. George News article cites a study by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the University of Ottawa’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainable Prosperity showed a 5 to 15 percent decrease in emissions with “little net impact, either negative or positive, on provincial economic performance.”

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Can Private Investment Make up for Trump-Era Policy Retreat? ($)

Increasing investor confidence in clean energy technology is a leading challenge to wringing carbon dioxide emissions out of the U.S. power sector, says a new paper from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. EnergyWire cites the new working paper, which suggests that the "recent U.S. presidential election has increased uncertainty regarding federal policy related to greenhouse gases and highlighted the fact that although policy goals can be powerful drivers, innovation can also benefit from private investment, private action, and public-private partnerships."

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ACES: A Lesson in Storytelling and Breaking Down Silos

In a blog post, the Nicholas Institute’s Sara Mason writes about attending the A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES) conference in Jacksonville, Florida. There, Mason says, the common theme was the absolute importance of telling engaging stories on ecosystem services that not only resonate with all types of, but are framed to engage communities no matter what their political views.

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Research Maps Countries that will be Most Impacted by Large-Scale Coral Reef Loss

New evidence from Duke environmental researchers points to the devastation coral reefs could face in the next few decades—which would affect human populations around the world. ”Some scientists have held out hope that there would be reef areas that could escape the harm of climate change, but we find that most reefs will be affected by either warmer seas or more acidic oceans,” said Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Linwood Pendleton. “2016 has been one of the worst years in memory for coral bleaching. This fact is demonstrated by this year’s bleaching event that affected nearly all of the Great Barrier Reef.”

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Overcoming Barriers to Large-Scale Conservation

Work by Lydia Olander of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and Paul Trianosky of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative is shedding light on how to overcome barriers to large-scale conservation. 

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The Road Toward Clean Power Plan Policy

A national policy that creates the first ever national standards to address carbon pollution from power plants includes an approach to cutting emissions that Jeremy Tarr worked on as a former employee of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Years before the Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 was finalized, Tarr was focusing on legal and policy analysis relating to its design and implementation.

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Greening the Grid: From Investment Banker to Energy Visionary

Will Fadrhonc, a former Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions intern and winner of the 2010 Shell Energy for Tomorrow essay competition, describes his path to Google as an energy buyer and how his time at the Nicholas Institute influenced it all. 

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