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Recent Projects

  • Issue Briefs

    How States Can Value Pollution Reductions from Distributed Energy Resources

    July 20, 2018

    DERs are a growing part of the U.S. electric system and many state electric utility regulators are looking to more accurately compensate them by paying for a variety of the benefits that these resources provide. Most states are currently focusing on energy and distribution-level benefits, but this approach overlooks the environmental and public health impacts of DERs. Even though some states like California and New York have been working on analyses that include environmental attributes of DERs, few regulators have attempted a thorough evaluation of the environmental and public health benefits. Our report, Valuing Pollution Reduction, lays out a practical methodology for calculating the E value, the highlights of which are captured here. Specifically, this issue brief describes how to appropriately value environmental and public health benefits by monetizing the economic, health, and climate damages avoided emissions would have caused. State utility regulators can use the steps described here, weighing tradeoffs between accuracy and administrability, to implement their own program to holistically compensate DERs.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to FDA on Limiting Nicotine Content of Cigarettes

    July 16, 2018

    As part of a larger plan to revise regulations on tobacco and nicotine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering limiting the nicotine content of combusted cigarettes in an effort to make them less addictive. In response to FDA’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking on this potential policy, our comments offered advice, drawing from recent economic scholarship, on how the agency could assess a nicotine limit’s costs and benefits.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to FERC on Seasonal Capacity Markets and Electricity Demand

    July 12, 2018

    PJM Interconnection (PJM), the electric grid and wholesale market operator in 13 states and Washington D.C., currently has a market design that leads to over-procurement of electric generating capacity, particularly from generation resources that are able to provide capacity throughout the year. This inefficient market design raises capacity costs and suppresses the participation of resources, such as wind, solar, and natural gas, whose generating capacity varies by season. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently held a technical conference to seek feedback on how PJM can redesign its capacity market to better facilitate participation of these seasonal resources. Our comments to FERC argue that replacing or supplementing the current annual-only capacity product with seasonal capacity products would improve the efficiency of the PJM capacity market. In addition, we suggest changes in the capacity market participation rules for wind, solar, and other intermittent resources.

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  • Public Comments

    Environmental Value of Distributed Energy Resources for New York State - Subgroup Report

    July 9, 2018

    New York State is seeking to refine its method for compensating distributed energy resources (DERs) based on the value that they provide, including their potential to reduce local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Together with a group of government agencies, non-governmental community and environmental organizations, academic centers, and clean energy businesses, we submitted a report that describes the work of an informal, stakeholder-led Environmental / Environmental Justice Value Subgroup, which was formed to identify methods for calculating the environmental and public health value of avoided air pollution caused by DER injections in New York State. As part of that filing, we also submitted our report, Valuing Pollution Reductions, which serves as a general guide for state regulators interested in calculating the environmental and public health value of avoided air pollution caused by DER injections.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to Interior on San Juan Mine Lease Extension DEIS (New Mexico)

    July 9, 2018

    The Department of the Interior is proposing to extend leasing and operations at New Mexico’s San Juan mine by 15 years, producing up to 53 million additional tons of coal that will release 97.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions when combusted. In our comments to Interior on its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the mine’s lease extension, we criticize Interior’s failure to fully account for the climate effects related to the project by monetizing the damage these emissions will cause. This refusal leaves the public and decisionmakers in the dark about the climate effects of the project, and is arbitrary given that the agency relies on the project’s monetized benefits to justify its action.

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  • Court Filings

    Brief to SCOTUS on Economic Impact of Conservation Designations

    July 6, 2018

    We recently filed, in a case before the Supreme Court, a brief on the role of ancillary and unquantified benefits in cost-benefit analysis for environmental policy. The Fish and Wildlife Service, in declaring critical habitat designation areas for the dusky gopher frog, decided to not exclude some private land from the designation after qualitatively assessing the direct and indirect costs and benefits of the designation.

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  • Court Filings

    Brief on Repeal of Interior’s Valuation Rule

    June 25, 2018

    In 2016, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) issued the Consolidated Federal Oil & Gas and Federal & Indian Coal Valuation Reform (Valuation Rule). The Valuation Rule sought to ensure that states and the federal government receive the full value of royalties due under the law for oil, gas, and coal extracted from public land. In 2017, ONRR abruptly reversed course and repealed the rule. State attorneys general have now sued ONRR over the repeal and filed a motion for summary judgment. In our brief supporting the plaintiffs, we argue that ONRR did not provide a reasoned explanation for repealing the Valuation Rule, both because ONRR fails to accurately assess the repeal’s economic impact and because ONRR fails to provide a reasoned explanation for its abrupt change in course.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to BLM on Potential Oil and Gas Leasing in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

    June 19, 2018

    As the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) considers opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas leasing, pursuant to language in the 2017 Tax Act, our comments explain that development of oil and gas in the Arctic Coastal Plain would pose serious threats to this delicate, pristine ecosystem. In preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) for this potential lease sale, BLM must consider the many factors that weigh strongly against any leasing or development in the Refuge.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to Interior’s Royalty Policy Committee

    June 6, 2018

    Our policy director, Jayni Hein, published a new op-ed in U.S. News & World Report on the Interior Department’s failure to protect the public interest in fossil fuel leasing decisions. In addition, she submitted the op-ed as public comments to Interior’s Royalty Policy Committee and gave verbal remarks at its meeting on June 6, 2018. Hein argues that Interior is required by law to earn “fair market value” for the use and development of public natural resources, and that providing royalty rate reductions and other undue concessions would inappropriately transfer public revenue to fossil fuel industry stakeholders.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to New York on Offshore Wind Program

    June 4, 2018

    New York State is considering setting a procurement goal of 2,400 MWs worth of new offshore wind generation facilities by 2030. In our comments to the New York Public Service Commission, we encourage the Commission to continue the use of the Social Cost of Carbon to value the benefits of avoiding greenhouse-gas emissions in the state’s Offshore Wind Policy. We also explain that the proposal to pay for the benefits of offshore wind outside of the wholesale markets is a reasonable way to move closer to internalizing the external costs of carbon-dioxide emissions and other pollution.

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