Publications

Filter by Topic:

Filter by Author:

Filter by Type:

Why Have Greenhouse Emissions in RGGI States Declined? An Econometric Attribution to Economic, Energy Market, and Policy Factors

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a consortium of northeastern U.S. states that limit carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation through a regional emissions trading program. Since RGGI started in 2009, regional emissions have sharply dropped. This analysis uses econometric models to quantify the emissions reductions due to RGGI and those due to other factors such as the recession, complementary environmental programs, and lowered natural gas prices. It shows that without RGGI, emissions would have been 24 percent higher. The program accounts for about half of the region’s post-2009 emissions reductions, which are far greater than those achieved in the rest of the United States.

Authors: Brian C. Murray and Peter T. Maniloff

Filters

Climate & Energy

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

Modeling

States & Regions

State Policy

Journal Articles

Preparing for CO2 Regulations for Existing Power Plants: Key Points to Look for in the Final Clean Power Plan Rule

In June 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its Clean Power Plan rule, developed pursuant to section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s fleet of existing electric generating units. The agency will release the final version of the rule in August 2015. This final rule is expected to reflect some, perhaps significant, changes addressing the more than 4 million public comments on the proposed rule. This policy brief identifies the key elements in the final rule that could affect state implementation choices. These elements include potential changes in final state emissions targets, treatment of natural gas combined cycle units and under-construction nuclear units, rules and flexibility regarding rate-to-mass conversion, submission deadlines for state plans, and guidance regarding multi-state trading.

Authors: Julie DeMeester, David Hoppock, Sam Helton, Jonas Monast

 

Filters

Climate & Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy Briefs

The Depths of Hydraulic Fracturing and Accompanying Water Use across the United States

Unconventional oil and gas extraction using a combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has transformed natural gas and oil production in North America and raised public concern about its intense water use and potential hazards, including drinking-water contamination. Such extraction is thought to pose no safety concerns for drinking water if it occurs many hundreds of meters to kilometers underground, yet no comprehensive analysis of hydraulic fracturing depths existed until publication of a new article in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Based on reports of fracturing depths and water use at 44,000 wells in the United States between 2010 and 2013, the analysis finds the average fracturing depth was 8,300 feet and the average water use was 2,400,000 gallons per well. Many of these wells (6,900 or 16 percent) were fractured less than a mile from the surface; 2,600 wells (6 percent) were fractured above 3,000 feet. Because hydraulic fractures can propagate 2,000 feet upward, the analysis indicates that shallow wells may warrant special safeguards, including a mandatory registry of well locations, full chemical disclosure, and, where horizontal drilling is used, predrilling water testing to a radius 1,000 feet beyond a well’s greatest lateral extent.

Authors: Robert B. Jackson, Ella R. Lowry, Amy Pickle, Mary Kang, Dominic DiGiulio, and Kaiguang Zha

 

Filters

Climate & Energy

Water

Energy Sector

Natural Resources

National

States & Regions

Journal Articles

Air Quality Impacts and Health-Benefit Valuation of a Low-Emission Technology for Rail Yard Locomotives in Atlanta, Georgia

One of the largest railyard facilities in the southeastern United States is located in the densely populated northwestern section of Atlanta, Georgia, near other industries, schools, and dwellings. It is a significant source of fine particulates (PM2.5) and black carbon (BC). This article in Science of the Total Environment calculates 2011 PM2.5 and BC emissions from the yard and from primary industrial and on-road mobile sources in the area and determines their impact on local air quality using Gaussian dispersion modeling. It also determines the change in PM2.5 and BC concentrations that could be accomplished by transitioning the yard's traditional switcher locomotives to lower-emitting technology. The study finds that the potential reduction in these concentrations facilitates attainment of the PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards in the area and that, based on Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP) modeling, resulting health benefits would surpass conversion costs by approximately 140 million dollars over 10 years.

Authors: Boris Galvis, Michael Bergin, James Boylan, Yan Huang, Michelle Bergin, and Armistead G. Russell

Filters

Climate & Energy

Journal Articles

The Environmental and Economic Effects of Regional Bioenergy Policy in the Southeastern U.S.

The unique generation, landownership, and resource attributes of the southeastern United States make the region an important test bed for implementation of novel renewable energy policy interventions. This study evaluates the environmental and economic implications of one such intervention, a hypothetical region-wide renewable portfolio standard (RPS) with biomass carve-outs. It utilizes the Forest and Agriculture Sector Optimization Model with Greenhouse Gases (FASOMGHG) to assess the multi-sector and interregional allocation of forest harvest activity, and then uses the Sub-Regional Timber Supply (SRTS) model to assess intraregional variation in forest composition and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation potential. The analysis finds that existing resource conditions influence the regional distribution of land use and harvest changes, resulting in a spatially and temporally diverse forest carbon response. Net forest carbon in the Southeast is greater in the RPS Scenario than in the No RPS Scenario in all but the final years of the model run. Accounting for displaced fossil emissions yields net GHG reductions in all time periods. Both research methodology and findings are also applicable to a broader suite of domestic and international policies, including European Union renewable energy initiatives and GHG mitigation under Section 111 of the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Authors: Christopher S. Galik, Robert C. Abt, Gregory Latta, and Tibor Vegh

Filters

Climate & Energy

Bioenergy

Journal Articles

Sustainability Guidelines and Forest market Response: An Assessment of European Union Pellet Demand in the Southeastern United States

Woody biomass from the southeast United States is expected to play an important role in meeting European Union (EU) renewable energy targets. In crafting policies to guide bioenergy development and in guiding investment decisions to meet established policy goals, a firm understanding of the interaction between policy targets and forest biomass markets is necessary, as is the effect that this interaction will have on environmental and economic objectives. This analysis, featured in the journal Global Change Biology-Bioenergy, increases understanding of these interactions by modeling the response of southern U.S. forest markets to new pellet demand in the presence of sustainability sourcing or harvest criteria. Based on modeled scenarios, it finds that wood pellets from the Southeast United States could be used to meet sustainability guidelines set by the EU to achieve its larger renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions goals. 

Author(s): Christopher S. Galik and Robert C. Abt

Filters

Climate & Energy

Bioenergy

Policy and Design

Science

Environmental Economics

International

States & Regions

Southeast

Journal Articles

The Clean Power Plan: Implications of Three Compliance Decisions for U.S. States

The proposed Clean Power Plan gives U.S. states flexibility in how they attain state-level carbon dioxide emissions rate goals from existing power plants. This analysis uses the Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model to illuminate the implications of three key decisions: whether to choose rate- or mass-based compliance, whether to pursue multistate or individual state compliance, and whether—if allowed in the final rule—to include new natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units under the emissions limit. 

Regarding power sector adjustments, modeling shows that (1) a rate-based approach initially decreases coal generation 25% and increases use of existing NGCC units and construction of new renewables; (2) compared to that approach, a mass-based approach initially increases coal generation and removes incentives for use of existing NGCC and new renewables generation; (3) assumptions about renewables capital costs, energy efficiency savings, and natural gas prices significantly affect generation responses; and (4) rate-based approaches allow for more emissions growth than mass-based approaches post–2030.

Regarding policy costs, the modeling shows that (1) a mass-based approach, especially with multistate cooperation, offers large cost savings opportunities; (2) neither approach has a big effect on wholesale electricity prices, but including new NGCC units lowers prices under a rate-based approach and increases them under a mass-based approach; and (3) costs differ across U.S. regions and across the mass- and rate-based approaches within regions.

Authors: Martin T. Ross, Brian C. Murray, and David Hoppock

Filters

Climate & Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Environmental Economics

Energy Sector

National

Working Papers

Assessing Impacts of the Clean Power Plan on Southeast States

The proposed Clean Power Plan gives U.S. states flexibility in how they attain state-level carbon dioxide emissions rate goals from existing power plants. This analysis explores the potential impact of the proposed CPP on Southeast states across a range of compliance options relative to a baseline without the CPP. The analysis presents modeling results from the Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model for eight primary compliance scenarios involving rate-based or mass-based compliance, unilateral state action or regional cooperation, and inclusion or non-inclusion of natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units as regulated entities under the CPP.

Regarding electricity sector adjustments, the modeling shows that a rate-based approach initially decreases coal generation, encourages use of existing and construction of new NGCC units, and incentivizes renewable generation, although use of renewables is not cost-effective in the Southeast under baseline cost assumptions. By comparison, a mass-based approach initially increases coal generation and removes incentives for use of existing NGCC units while significantly increasing new NGCC generation. Including new NGCC units under CPP compliance shifts generation from those units to existing NGCC units under mass-based compliance and increases coal generation under rate-based compliance.

Regarding policy costs, the modeling shows that individual state compliance costs vary considerably, that a mass-based approach initially entails half the costs of a rate-based approach, and that both regional rate-based and mass-based approaches create significant net cost savings over unilateral state compliance.

Authors: Martin T. Ross, Brian C. Murray, and David Hoppock

Filters

Climate & Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Southeast Climate

State Utility Regulation

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

Modeling

Working Papers

Regulating Existing Power Plants under the U.S. Clean Air Act: Present and Future Consequences of Key Design Choices

In June 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants, triggering considerable debate on the proposal’s design and its environmental and economic consequences. One question not addressed by this debate is this: What if the EPA regulations turn out to be inadequate to address future mitigation goals? That is, what will the landscape for future policies look like if these regulations turn out to be just an interim measure? This analysis in the journal Energy Policy compares potential short- and long-term consequences of several key regulatory design choices, including mass-based versus rate-based standards, tradable versus non-tradable standards, and differentiated versus single standards. It finds that long-term consequences may be significant in terms of the legacy they leave for future policy revisions: tradable standards lead to lower electricity prices and become weaker over time; differentiated tradable standards lead to relatively greater investment in coal retrofits; non-tradable standards lead to relatively greater retirement of coal capacity. It may be the case that key policy choices entail one set of tradeoffs if proposed EPA rules are viewed as relatively permanent and final and another set of tradeoffs if the rules are viewed as an interim solution.

Author(s): Brian Murray, William Pizer, Martin Ross

Filters

Climate & Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

National

Journal Articles

Exploring Biomass Market Participation and Decision Making

Individual biomass producers will play a large role in the emergence of robust and sustainable bioenergy markets. Despite recognition of producer differences, there are few comparative studies of what actually contributes to bioenergy market participation decisions across different producer groups. This policy brief, which draws on research descibed in Exploring the Determinants of Emerging Bioenergy Market Participation, addresses this gap and compiles lessons from the existing body of work on the factors that influence producer decision making. The literature finds that many non-production objectives, structural and social constraints, and market-related attributes can influence bioenergy market participation decisions—in particular, asset specificity, or the market or end-use flexibility of a given feedstock. A quantitative analysis highlights those independent and dependent variables most often found to be significantly associated—information that can improve representation of bioenergy market participation decision making in future modeling efforts. A social network analysis sheds light on the hypothesis that there exists in the literature a differential treatment of feedstock production decision making across feedstock categories, producer groups, and geographic regions. The finding of potential differences is confirmed through QAP regression analysis for two feedstock types (residues and commodities) and one producer type (woodland owners). If producer group- and feedstock-specific differences are indicative of fundamentally different socio-economic conditions in their respective markets, policies targeted to individual markets may be more effective than uniform national policies. Targeted policies could reflect location-specific feedstock production techniques, non-production objectives, and other attributes related to market participation decisions. Furthermore, this analysis revels that a greater number of factors are associated with dedicated feedstock production decisions than with residues or traditional commodity feedstock production decisions. It follows that policies seeking to increase production of dedicated feedstocks should consider a broader array of tools, approaches, or incentives than those seeking to increase production of residues or traditional commodities.

Author: Christopher S. Galik

Filters

Climate & Energy

Bioenergy

Regional Bioenergy

Policy and Design

National

Policy Briefs

Pages