State Policy Program News

Hog Waste In NC Has Been A Relatively Untapped Fuel Source. Until Now.

NPR reports that the North Carolina biogas industry began with a promise by Duke University, citing a 2013 study by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions that found the directed biogas approach could lower the cost of swine biogas to as little as 5 cents a kilowatt hour, which is roughly the same price as solar power. Duke University is interested in lowering the price of renewable natural gas because it has a goal of bringing all its emissions to zero by 2024. 

Kate Konschnick Portrait with Quote

Expert Available for Comment on Virginia Carbon Emission Regulations

The public comment period for Virginia’s draft regulations to cut carbon emissions from power plants ends April 9. The draft plan aims to cap emissions from the state’s electricity sector beginning in 2020 and to reduce them 30 percent by 2030.

We Can Reduce Methane Emissions. Here’s How.

In 2016 U.S., Canadian and Mexican leaders pledged to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025. Canada is just beginning to propose regulatory limits on methane. But Mexico has made only nonbinding pledges, and the Trump administration is rolling back federal methane standards. Nevertheless, write the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Kate Konschnik and her co-author Sarah Jordaan in the News & Observer, states, industry, academics, and nongovernmental organizations are advancing methane measurement and mitigation efforts. They are acting despite deep uncertainty—the magnitude of leaks from oil and gas infrastructure remains disputed and insufficiently measured—and against a backdrop of rapidly evolving research. But to be effective, these actors need to work in concert, fully informed by the latest science. In a newly published article in Climate Policy, Konschnick and Jordaan suggest a North American Methane Reduction Framework to coordinate regulation, voluntary actions, and scientific developments. This approach could bridge the divide between science and policy, and drive new research that in turn can support better federal policies when governments are ready to act.

To Frack or Not to Frack

On the Duke Research Blog, Maya Iskandarani writes about alumnus Daniel Raimi's new book The Fracking Debate: The Risks, Benefits, and Uncertainties of the Shale Revolution. At a talk co-sponsored by the Duke Energy Initiative and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Raimi shared some of the insights he gained in traveling the country to investigate the community-level impact of the shale revolution in the U.S. 

News Tip: Expert Available to Comment on Nuclear Plant Decision

The Georgia Public Service Commission will decide Dec. 21 whether to allow construction of two new nuclear reactors at the Plant Vogtle site to proceed or to call for the cancellation of the project. Plagued by delays and escalating costs, the Vogtle reactors represent the only large-scale nuclear construction underway in the United States.

Carbon Pricing Structure, Revenue Concerns Raised at Albany Meeting ($)

Key energy stakeholders explored the potential ramifications of an innovative proposal to place a price on carbon emissions in the electric sector, discussing ways to address imports into the state and how to divvy up potential revenues. New York's independent grid operator and utility regulator co-hosted the technical discussion at the Empire State Plaza December 11. Representatives from large energy consumers, environmental groups, state policymakers, public power authorities and in-state and out-of-state electric generators tried to establish principles for how revenue raised by a price on carbon could be used. This article in PoliticPro quotes Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Climate and Energy Program director Kate Konschnik.

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.

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.

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