Regulating Carbon Dioxide under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act: Options, Limits, and Impacts

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed in 2012 proposed performance standards for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new fossil fuel–fired power plants. Once finalized, the new-source standards will trigger section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, which required the EPA to regulate CO2 emissions from existing power plants. Broad statutory language and limited legal precedent suggest that a variety of policy design options are available to the EPA and states when regulating CO2 emissions from existing power plants. At the same time, section 111(d) raises unanswered questions. In October 2012, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions convened a stakeholder workshop in Washington, D.C., to discuss these questions. This report preserves the workshop discussion by summarizing panel presentations, highlighting points of conversation, and capturing key themes. This report also identifies tradeoffs facing regulators who will draft the existing-source regulations and notes issues ripe for further exploration.

Environmental Leadership: A Reference Handbook

Researchers at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions contributed to a chapter in the publication "Environmental Leadership: A Reference Handbook." The book covers topics that confront the particular intractable characteristics of environmental problem solving. Individual chapters focus on how environmental leadership actions or initiatives may be applied to address specific problems in context, offering both analyses and recommendations.

Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Sources: Section 111(d) and State Equivalency

On December 9, 2011, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions convened a broad range of stakeholders to explore the legal and policy issues presented by the regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under 111(d) (existing source performance standards) of the Clean Air Act. The workshop focused primarily on the options for states to demonstrate that existing GHG policies are equivalent to the 111(d) requirements. The Nicholas Institute distributed this document to workshop participants prior to the event to provide a framework for the issues that would be discussed. Nothing in this document should be interpreted as expressing the Institute’s opinion of the path the EPA should take on any given issue.

Examination of the Carbon Fee Alternative for the State of California

The California Air Resources Board (ARB), as a result of a recent court decision, is required to provide information about a carbon fee as one of several alternatives to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Other alternatives include direct regulation of facilities, cap and trade, and a mix of sectoral strategies. This paper examines the carbon fee as an option for controlling greenhouse gases and compares it to other regulatory alternatives, such as the cap-and-trade approach ARB initially decided to take.

Avoiding the Glorious Mess: A Sensible Approach to Climate Change and the Clean Air Act

In March 2010, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, the Duke University School of Law, and the Center for Law, the Environment, Adaptation, and Resources (CLEAR) at the University of North Carolina School of Law convened many of the nation’s legal experts on the Clean Air Act for an event in Durham, North Carolina, to examine the options for regulating GHGs under the Act. This report builds upon some of the ideas discussed at that meeting and described in recent publications, with the goal of identifying a viable approach to GHG regulation through the current Clean Air Act in the event that Congress does not act on comprehensive climate legislation.

Sticking Points in Offsets Policy

As the U.S. congressional debate about climate policy matures, the design of a carbon offsets program has become increasingly central to the debate. Offsets have attracted the support of a number of stakeholders because of their promise to provide low-cost, flexible compliance in a carbon trading scheme. They have also evoked a number of concerns in the political discourse, as stakeholders have made different judgments about how to balance the assurance of performance with the efficient administration of the program. This primer outlines and compares a range of policy options that would address key issues in offsets policy in a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system.

Strategic Reserve Coupons

As the need to tackle global warming and strengthen U.S. energy security become increasingly evident, political momentum has increased for a transformation of America's energy sector. The Obama administration has decleared that the transition to a low-carbon economy is a top White House priority, and integral to America's long-term economic prosperity. In June, the House of Representatives passed legislation (H.R. 2454, America's Climate and Energy Security Act of 2009) to cap emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Issues and Concerns Regarding Design of a Greenhouse Gas Market

In this testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on September 9, 2009, Timothy Profeta describes the benefits of a market-based climate policy, lays out lessons from recent market failures, describes unique aspects of the U.S. carbon market, and proposes four principles for that market.

Primer on H.R. 2454: Targets and Timetables

Will climate legislation stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at a level adequate to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system? That's the key question for all climate. Future U.S. emissions reductions are only a piece of the puzzle. The success of the program depends on whether other nations want to pursue equivalent reductions.

Allowing States to Retire Allowances without Affecting National Allowance Prices: A Straw Proposal

Over the past decade, while federal policymakers were debating when and how to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, state have played an early and important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. As Congress and the Obama administration consider proposals to address climate change on a national level, there is a growing appreciation for state leadership on the issue and the need to work in partnership with states going forward. While calls for a federal-state partnership grow louder, specific ideas on how to structure such a partnership are needed.