State Policy Program News

Eight Faculty Groups are Awarded 2018 Intellectual Community Planning Grants

Three Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions researchers are among the recipients of Duke University Intellectual Community Planning Grants. This funding will be used by these researchers—Kay Jowers, John Virdin and Steve Roady—to explore environmental and economic justice in rural America as well as governing the oceans for nutrition and food security.

Can Regional Competitive Wholesale Markets for Electricity Function alongside State Energy Policies?

As states have increasingly moved to implement state-specific energy policies, tensions have grown between these states and the regional wholesale electricity markets that serve them. Although regional transmission organizations (RTOs) oversee the markets and manage the electricity grid, states’ right to pursue certain energy policies—such as renewable portfolio standards and tax incentives for preferred generation resources—is raising fundamental questions.

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Dialogue Series Sets Internet of Water in Motion

Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Aspen Institute partnered with the Redstone Strategy Group to convene a dialogue series in 2016 and 2017. The goal: to formulate a national digital water data and information policy framework for sharing, integrating, and disseminating public data to characterize and forecast the quantity, quality, and uses of water across the United States, writes CleanTechnica.

North Carolina Leadership Forum Begins Second Year with Focus on Energy

The North Carolina Leadership Forum—launched last year—brings together civic, business and political leaders to discuss the problems facing North Carolina and develop possible solutions acceptable to both liberal and conservative leaders. Key partners in this year’s forum are the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Duke University Energy Initiative, who are providing current research findings and critical expertise to inform forum participants about topics relating to fossil fuels and renewable energy, climate change, environmental impacts, regulations, economics and politics.

Researchers Propose an Open ‘Internet of Water’ Tracking Use, Quality and Costs

TechCrunch reports on work by researchers from Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Aspen Institute that looks to develop a shared, open internet of water. With natural disasters like droughts and flooding, and with man-made problems like overcrowded cities and factory runoff, the water system is frequently overtaxed and understudied. Local authorities and utilities produce reams of data on use, but there is little in the way of national databases, let alone standardized, open datasets. “Our water world is data rich, but information poor,” explains Martin Doyle, of Duke’s Nicholas Institute. “If water data were shared openly and then integrated in a common digital platform, there would be game-changing opportunities ranging from private citizens’ ability to gauge the quality of local water to public officials’ ability to warn populations of water-borne public health hazards.”

Kate Konschnik

Konschnik to Lead Climate and Energy Program

Kate Konschnik, a lecturer on law and executive director of Harvard's Environmental Law Program, has been named director of the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. She begins her role Dec. 1.

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Trump Moves to Cancel Landmark Obama Climate Change Rule

The Trump administration officially moved to kill the Obama-era climate change rule for power plants Tuesday, fulfilling a campaign pledge but setting off what is expected to be a bitter legal battle between the EPA and several states, health and environmental groups. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed an agency proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which would have sped the nation's shift away from coal-burning power plants and toward renewable power and natural gas, which emits less planet-warming carbon dioxide. Tim Profeta, director of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, told Politico that the EPA is nixing the rule now to keep the court from issuing a decision. “The court should decide the case that it has before it in order to clear up any dispute over the extent of EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants."

Analysts Say Repeal Reinforces Endangerment Finding ($)

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt today formally announced his plan to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, a move that analysts say implicitly reinforces the endangerment finding requiring oversight of greenhouse gases. Tim Profeta, director of Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, told E&E News that while the EPA's reasoning could tacitly back the endangerment finding, the administration simply has not come down on either side of the issue. "The agency's proposal today talks about the extent of the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, but it still assumes that authority does exist," Profeta said. "They just simply have not indicated what they want to do at this point."

CPP Supporters Hope for Action by DC Circuit

Now that EPA has reversed its position on the legality of the Clean Power Plan, some supporters of the program say the appellate court that heard oral arguments a year ago should rule on the issue, reports RTO Insider. In proposing to repeal the CPP, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Tuesday that the Obama administration overreached its legal authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act by ordering generators to take actions “outside the fence line” of individual generators. Tim Profeta, director of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, said Tuesday that the D.C. Circuit should now rule on the case because of “the logic and judicial economy of the situation. You’ve got the court of jurisdiction having heard en banc the precise legal arguments that are being made in this rule. It’s fully briefed. It’s fully argued.” If the court doesn’t act on the case before it, he said, “they will probably have the same case before them in new litigation that would have to be briefed and argued all over again."

Coal War Games: How Pruitt and Perry are Working the System to Save Dirty Energy

In two important policy moves, Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry are both seeking to defend the same fiefdom: coal's dwindling domain as the ruling fuel for electric utility companies, reports Inside Climate NewsPruitt's order on Monday to revoke the Clean Power Plan and its controls on carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's coal-fired power plants displayed no rush to replace the rule.The irony here, of course, is that Pruitt wants to follow that noble principle to a frivolous fault, withdrawing a rule that was developed over several years and with extraordinary review and comment, and spinning it out into an endless future—to "game the system," as Tim Profeta, director of Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, put it.

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