News

Nevada City Tests Blueprint for Buying, Selling Water Rights

In early spring 2017, Nevada's Diamond Valley is expected to test a blueprint for buying and selling water rights to redistribute the valley’s water. The trading should shift supply to where it’s needed most and should allow those with surplus supply to profit from it. The blueprint was developed by researchers at the Nicholas Institute and builds on lessons from Australia’s search for a water rights and management framework to keep water withdrawals within sustainable limits.

Read Full Story

Students Assess Whether Food Waste Could Help Duke Achieve Carbon Neutrality

Last fall, six Duke students assembled at Loyd Ray Farms, a project of the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative (DCOI), to learn how its hogs, in the words of one student, Andrew Seelaus, “are cranking out some of North Carolina’s most valuable carbon offsets and renewable energy credits.” Seelaus and the other five students—members of an energy-themed Bass Connections project partnering with the DCOI, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the Pratt School of Engineering, and the Nicholas School of the Environment—were out to learn whether an on-campus anaerobic digester could cost-effectively do for food waste what the digester at Loyd Ray Farms was doing for hog waste, thereby helping Duke meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2024.

Read Full Story

Environmental Justice Project Engages Community in Collaborative Research

For at least a decade, long-time residents of Old East Durham have witnessed a redevelopment effort that has swelled the city’s population and brought new businesses and jobs but that has done little to protect them from rising housing prices and has even cut them off from some traditional support systems. Many are being pushed out of an area that they no longer find affordable. The concerns of those long-time residents are now part of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ first project on environmental justice. It is in that broad environmental justice context that the Nicholas Institute, along with the University of North Carolina (UNC) and North Carolina State University (NCSU), is engaging with Communities in Partnership, a new East Durham neighborhood non-profit, to document the unintended and collateral impacts of the city’s revitalization. This Kenan Creative Collaboratory project will eventually lead to proposals of policy mechanisms to address those impacts.

Read Full Story

Cooperation Aimed at Sustainable Fisheries, Poverty Reduction

The western and central Pacific Ocean is home to the world’s richest tuna stocks. The region is also becoming the meeting place of poverty reduction and natural resource protection efforts by a handful of countries that benefit from control of this rich natural wealth. Although those countries’ returns from tuna fisheries have increased significantly through improved fisheries management, they could be simultaneously bigger and more sustainable. Papua New Guinea and Pacific Island countries supply some 34 percent of the global catch of tuna each year. For these countries, whose economic growth drivers are constrained by their geographic isolation, management of tuna fisheries can make the difference between economic stagnation or a significant rise in per capita gross domestic product (GDP). That management—and more specifically, regional cooperation in it—will heavily influence whether some of the world’s last healthy tuna stocks will be maintained. “The key challenge for Pacific Island countries is to sustainably harness a greater share of the benefits from their tuna fisheries without depleting fish stocks,” said John Virdin, director of the Ocean and Coastal Policy Program at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. New work by the Nicholas Institute with partners at Duke and the World Bank aims to suggest a pathway to adoption of specific management reforms to meet those twin goals.

Read Full Story

Class Offers Students a Chance to Experience Climate History

For some years, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ staff have helped lead a course that immerses students in the process of negotiating a global climate agreement. The United Nations Climate Negotiations Practicum course not only teaches students about international climate negotiations and policies under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—it takes them across the world to witness and be involved in the negotiations at one of the U.N.’s annual climate conferences. At the most recent conference in late 2015, students in the practicum course were part of history.

Read Full Story

Progress in Cutting Carbon

Rutland Herald opinion piece on cutting carbon emissions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), cites research from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions that shows RGGI has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 24 percent compared to a business-as-usual scenario. 

Read Full Story

Utility Experts Urge State Lawmakers to Continue Planning ($)

ClimateWire's roundup of the week's events makes mention of a Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions webinar on the effects of market conditions and the Clean Power Plan on states. The August 16 webinar will look at a new working paper on electricity industry trends and Clean Power Plan impacts on the U.S. generation mix, emissions and industry costs. The analysis suggests that industry trends are likely to make Clean Power Plan compliance relatively inexpensive; cost increases are likely to be on the order of 0.1 percent to 1 percent.

Read Full Story

Pennsylvania Unconventional Oil and Gas Development Contributes to Road Repair Costs in Surrounding States’ Counties

In a new study published in the Journal of Environmental Management, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Lauren Patterson and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Kelly Maloney report that transportation of waste associated with the development of unconventional oil and gas in Pennsylvania increases the cost of road repairs not only in Pennsylvania but in counties in the surrounding states of West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, and New York. Between July 2010 and December 2013, the estimated cost to repair roads damaged by trucks transporting unconventional oil and gas waste ranged from $3 million to $18 million. Although the majority of these costs were concentrated in Pennsylvania (79 percent), Ohio counties absorbed some of them (16 percent). 

Read Full Story

Redwoods Curb Global Warming, but California won't Invest in them

In the Mercury News, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions advisory board member Douglas Wheeler writes that scientists have found that California's old growth redwood trees have an extraordinary capacity to sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide, and thus to literally cleanse the air of a greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming. He suggests that without intending to do so, perhaps, these scientists have contributed to resolution of a roiling debate over the use of proceeds from California's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

Read Full Story

RGGI Market Status Report Points to CPP Compliance ($)

An E&E Publishing article on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative makes mention of a study by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University that found the nationwide cost to states for compliance with the Clean Power Plan will be "relatively inexpensive, with cost increases of 0.1% to 1.0%.

Read Full Story

Pages