Publications

RTOGov: Exploring Links Between Market Decision-Making Processes and Outcomes

The RTOGov project seeks to explore the links between decision-making processes and outcomes in our power markets. Led by researchers at Duke University and funded through a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, RTOGov is a growing network of researchers exploring the most important decision-making bodies never heard of in the United States.

Population Allocation at the Housing Unit Level: Estimates around Underground Natural Gas Storage Wells in PA, OH, NY, WV, MI, and CA

Spatially accurate population data are critical for determining health impacts from many known risk factors. However, the utility of the increasing spatial resolution of disease mapping and environmental exposures is limited by the lack of receptor population data at similar sub-census block spatial scales.
Methods

Getting to Yes: Internal Preparations—State Carbon Trading Checklist for a Meeting with the Governor

Public attention focuses on a policy once a governor makes a formal announcement and sets the debate in motion. However, much of the work happens before that moment, in conversations among state officials and their staff, and with key stakeholders. This memo is intended to support the work of “getting to yes” on a policy—in this case, a declining cap (and trade) program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions—once internal leadership has decided it is worth exploration.

Harnessing Competition in a Transitioning Electricity System: Opportunities for Traditional Cost-of-Service States

Cost-of-service states with vertically integrated utilities can manage a rapidly changing electricity sector by expanding opportunities for competition, even while maintaining the traditional vertically integrated utility. In fact, competition has been deployed successfully by cost of service states to meet customer needs, bring down costs, and encourage innovation.

Measuring and Managing the Unknown: Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Value Chain

Tracking and reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations needs an innovative approach, according to new report from the C.D. Howe Institute. In “Measuring and Managing the Unknown: Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Value Chain” authors Sarah Marie Jordaan and Kate Konschnik highlight the growing pressure on industry and policymakers to address the “unknown” factor in greenhouse gas emissions and propose a regulatory approach that remains open to new technologies.

Beyond Financing: A Guide to Green Bank Design in the Southeast

Green banks use funds to reduce the risk for private investment to support energy efficiency and clean energy. As local governments and corporations across the Southeast make progress on ambitious clean energy goals—including some with 100 percent renewable energy targets by as early as 2025—demand is growing for financing to make those goals attainable. This primer outlines the design elements of a green bank and explores how a green bank might leverage public funds in the Southeast to create a robust market for clean energy investment.

Private Environmental Governance in Oil and Gas: Unlocking the Complex Universe of Leading Management Practices

In the United States, expansion of onshore fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies has sparked calls for greater control of industry impacts. Alongside fractured regulatory efforts, a broad private governance movement has encouraged adoption of voluntary measures—often called “best management practices.” To explore the role of best management practices in unconventional oil and natural gas production, this article in the Florida State Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law focuses on surface spills of hydrocarbons, drilling wastes, fracturing fluid, and wastewater at production sites. 

Managing Dynamic Change in the Midwestern Power Sector: Power Shift Midwestern Regional Workshop

Market-shifts, technological innovation, and clean energy policies are driving a fundamental transformation of the U.S. power sector. This proceedings describes four critical grid issues in the Midwest discussed at the Power Shift's Minnesota meeting: evolving stakeholder processes, power sector fleet transfer, the impact of electric cars on the grid, and responses to changing consumer demand. The range of potential research inspired by the discussion—including whether state regulatory processes help or hinder big shifts underway on the grid, how state climate goals affect regional generation patterns, how stakeholder processes and market trends interact, whether utilities should attempt to spark demand for electric vehicles, and whether customer demands or public policies are driving innovation—points to the sea change in the U.S. power sector.

Reducing Fugitive Methane Emissions from the North American Oil and Gas Sector: A Proposed Science-Policy Framework

Atmospheric methane concentrations continue to increase globally, despite a pledge in 2016 from the leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico to reduce methane emissions from each country’s oil and gas sector. Additionally, the trilateral methane pledge faces more challenges as the Trump Administration seeks to reverse federal methane research and control efforts. Efforts to measure and control fugitive methane emissions do not presently proceed within a coherent framework that integrates science and policy. A new article in the journal Climate Policy suggests that collectively or individually, the countries, individual agencies, or private stakeholders could use the proposed North American Methane Reduction framework to direct research, enhance monitoring and evaluate mitigation efforts, and improve the chances that continental methane reduction targets will be achieved.

Water Stress from High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Potentially Threatens Aquatic Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Arkansas, United States

Demand for high-volume, short duration water withdrawals could create water stress to aquatic organisms in the Fayetteville Shale streams of Arkansas sourced for hydraulic fracturing fluids this article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology suggests. Authors estimate potential water stress using permitted water withdrawal volumes and actual water withdrawals compared to monthly median, low, and high streamflows. Findings indicate that freshwater usage for hydraulic fracturing could potentially affect aquatic organisms in 7-51 percent of the catchments depending on the month. If 100 percent of wastewater was recycled, the potential impact drops. Authors suggest that improved monitoring and access to water withdrawal and streamflow data are needed to ensure protection of streams not only as sources of drinking water, but aquatic habitats.