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

Environmental Justice Roundtable Report

This report from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Kenan Institute for Ethics summarizes discussion from a roundtable with experts from Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University and Research Triangle Institute that explored the multiple starting points for environmental justice research in the Triangle area.

Editor (s): Kay Jowers and Suzanne Katzenstein

Filters

State Policy

Reports

Enhancing Compliance Flexibility under the Clean Power Plan: A Common Elements Approach to Capturing Low-Cost Emissions Reductions

As states and stakeholders evaluate compliance options under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, many recognize the potential economic benefits of market-based strategies. In some states, however, market approaches trigger administrative and political hurdles. A new policy brief by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions offers a compliance pathway that allows states to realize the advantages of multistate and market-based solutions without mandating either strategy. With the common elements approach, states develop individual-state plans to achieve their unique emissions targets and give power plant owners the option to participate in cross-state emissions markets. Power plant owners can transfer low-cost emissions reductions between states whose compliance plans share common elements--credits defined the same way and mechanisms to protect against double counting. The common elements approach offers the following benefits: (1) allows cross-state credit transfers without states negotiating a formal regional trading scheme, (2) leaves compliance choices to power companies, (3) builds on existing state and federal trading programs, and (4) maintains the traditional roles of state energy and environmental regulators.

Author(s): Jonas Monast, Tim Profeta, Jeremy Tarr, and Brian Murray

Filters

Climate & Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

State Utility Regulation

State Policy

Policy Briefs

Completing the Energy Innovation Cycle: The View from the Public Utility Commission

Achieving a widespread adoption of innovative electricity generation technologies involves a complex system of research, development, demonstration, and deployment, with each phase then informing future developments. Despite a number of non-regulatory programs at the federal level to support this process, the innovation premium—the increased cost and technology risk often associated with innovative generation technologies—creates hurdles in the state public utility commission (PUC) process. This article in the Hastings Law Journal examines how and why innovative energy technologies face challenges in the PUC process, focusing on case studies where PUCs have approved or denied utility proposals to deploy high cost, first-generation energy technologies. It concludes with an outline of possible strategies to address PUC concerns by allocating the innovation premium beyond a single utility's ratepayers.

Author(s): Jonas Monast and Sarah Adair 

Filters

Climate & Energy

Policy and Design

State Utility Regulation

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

States & Regions

State Policy

Journal Articles

New Source Review and Coal Plant Efficiency Gains: How New and Forthcoming Air Regulations Affect Outcomes

Forthcoming carbon dioxide regulations for existing power plants in the United States have heightened interest in thermal efficiency gains for coal-fired power plants. Plant modifications to improve thermal efficiency can trigger New Source Review (NSR), a Clean Air Act requirement to adopt state-of-the-art pollution controls. This article in the journal Energy Policy explores whether existing coal plants would likely face additional pollution control requirements if they undertake modifications that trigger NSR. Despite emissions controls that are or will be installed under the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and Clean Air Interstate Rule or its replacement, 80% of coal units (76% of capacity) that are expected to remain in operation are not projected to meet the minimum NSR requirements for at least one pollutant: nitrogen oxides or sulfur dioxide. This is an important consideration for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state policymakers as they determine the extent to which carbon dioxide regulation will rely on unit-by-unit thermal efficiency gains versus potential flexible compliance strategies such as averaging, trading, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. NSR would likely delay and add cost to thermal efficiency projects at a majority of coal units, including projects undertaken to comply with forthcoming carbon dioxide regulation.

Author(s): Sarah Adair, David Hoppock, and Jonas Monast

Filters

Climate & Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

State Utility Regulation

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

National

State Policy

Journal Articles

Carbon Market Lessons and Global Policy Outlook

Although markets for trading carbon emission credits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have stalled in United States federal policy-making, carbon markets are emerging at the state level within the U.S. and around the world, teaching us more about what does and doesn't work. Authors discuss in a Policy Forum piece in Science key lessons from a decade of experience with carbon markets.

Author(s): Richard Newell, William Pizer, Daniel Raimi

Filters

Climate & Energy

Policy and Design

Science

Environmental Economics

Natural Resources

International

National

State Policy

Journal Articles

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities for California Agriculture: Review of the Economics

Although about three-quarters of California farm revenue derives from crop production, crops—mainly tree, vine, and vegetable crops—account for only about one-quarter of GHG emissions. Some studies indicate minimal yield loss from reducing nitrogen fertilizer use, and simulation results show significant percentage reductions in GHG emissions for payments of $20/MTCO2e. The economics of reducing emissions from enteric fermentation has been little studied. Manure management to reduce GHG emissions (mainly methane) can be as simple as covering manure lagoons and flaring methane. The more complex option of using manure-generated methane gas to replace fossil fuels has been investigated often. Most case studies and simulations suggest this option is costly. Its economic feasibility depends on specific local conditions, but there is no evidence of large-scale feasibility in California without large subsidies. 

Author(s): Hyunok Lee and Daniel Sumner

Filters

Climate & Energy

Adaptation

Science

Agriculture

Ecosystem Services

Land

T-AGG

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Western

State Policy

Reports

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities in California Agriculture: Science and Economics Summary

California Assembly Bill 32 requires effective statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategies. This report summarizes the results of six studies--developed to inform California policy--that review the latest science and economics of GHG mitigation opportunities in California's agricultural sector. Specifically, the report examines the potential for annual GHG reductions in cropland, rangeland, and manure management systems and through emissions-targeted optimization of feed for dairy animals. Among the examined practices, dairy manure management appears to provide the largest emissions reduction opportunity at the lowest cost per ton, but economic and other hurdles must be overcome to realize it. Other mitigation activities could yield relatively large per-acre reductions but on relatively small acreage. Yet other activities could be widely implemented, but their potential effectiveness is uncertain. More data on the GHG reduction potential and costs of management practices in California agriculture and a better understanding of adoption barriers are needed.

Author(s): Tibor Vegh, Lydia Olander, Brian Murray

Filters

Agriculture

Ecosystem Services

Land

T-AGG

Climate Change Policy

States & Regions

Western

State Policy

Reports

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities for California Agriculture: Outlook for California Agriculture to 2030

California agriculture is diverse and complex, producing several dozen major crop and livestock commodities using the state’s great spatial variation of natural and climate resources and well-developed infrastructure of input delivery systems, processing systems, and marketing services. What, where, and how these commodities are produced reflect biophysical, economic, and policy drivers, all of which have and will continue to change. This report examines the statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and emissions mitigation potential of alternative futures for California agriculture through 2030. It finds that the dairy industry in California has by far the largest GHG emissions of all the state’s agricultural production systems but that the industry’s growth trajectory is uncertain. Three potential growth scenarios suggest that baseline dairy emissions could decrease by as much as 20% or increase by as much as 40% (almost one-quarter of the entire agricultural sector’s current emissions). This variation in baseline emissions projections may be as large as or larger than the industry’s emissions mitigation potential.

Author(s): Daniel A. Sumner 

Filters

Climate & Energy

Agriculture

Ecosystem Services

Land

T-AGG

Climate Change Policy

Natural Resources

Sustainability

States & Regions

Western

State Policy

Reports

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities for California Agriculture: Review of California Cropland Emissions and Mitigation Potential

Agriculture contributes approximately 7% of California’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; less than 3% of the state total comes from croplands. Efforts to reduce California’s agricultural GHG emissions from croplands will require sound information regarding how specific agricultural management practices impact those emissions over the landscape. A review of agricultural literature was conducted on studies that quantified GHG emissions in California annual and perennial croplands. This report reviews the available scientific literature relevant to GHG emissions from California croplands and quantitatively assesses the biophysical potential of various agricultural mitigation strategies relevant to California cropping systems. A total of 20 studies were identified, relating to 10 specific management practices in California croplands. Where possible, data from these studies were used to estimate the biophysical mitigation potential of various agricultural management practices. This work revealed that 3 of the 10 management practices—farmland preservation, expansion of perennial crops, and manipulation of nitrogen fertilizer rates—have high to medium relative mitigation potential. However, reliably estimating the biophysical mitigation potential of these practices is not possible at this time due to many uncertainties and lack of information. Relatively few field studies conducted in California rigorously examine GHG emissions from changes in agricultural management activities and practices. Thus, more research is needed to inform future management and policy alternatives.

Author(s): Steven W. Culman, Van R. Haden, Toby Maxwell, Hannah Waterhouse, and William Horwath

Filters

Climate & Energy

Adaptation

Science

Agriculture

Ecosystem Services

Land

T-AGG

Western

State Policy

Reports

Pages