Institute for Policy Integrity

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What We Do

Project Updates

Viewing all updates in Climate Change and Energy Policy
  • Public Comments

    Comments to OSMRE on Failure to Use the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases in a Federal Mining Plan

    April 23, 2018

    We recently submitted comments to Office of Surfacing Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) on its environmental assessment (EA) on modifying the federal mining plan for Bull Mountains Mine No. 1 in Montana. The EA evaluates a proposal to extend operations at an existing mine by nine years, which would produce an extra 86.7 million tons of coal. While the EA quantifies the tons of greenhouse gas emissions related to the project, OSM refused to use the social cost of greenhouse gases metric to monetize the climate effects of these emissions. Our comments explain why the agency’s refusal is arbitrary and unlawful in light of a growing body of case law, which holds that failure to monetize a project’s costs is impermissible if an agency justifies an action based on the project’s monetized benefits. Our comments also explain why the social cost of greenhouse gases metric is appropriate for projects of this scale, why the metric’s use is not limited to rulemakings, and how failing to adequately account for the project’s climate effects is a violation of NEPA.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to FERC on Failure to Monetize Climate Effects

    April 23, 2018

    We recently submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on its environmental assessment (EA) for the Rivervale South to Market pipeline project in New Jersey. Once again, FERC quantified the tons of downstream greenhouse gas emissions that the project would generate, but the Commission did not use the social cost of greenhouse gases to monetize the climate effects of those emissions. In the EA, FERC incorrectly claims that it is impossible to determine the significance of a discrete amount of additional greenhouse gas emissions. Our comments dispel FERC’s arbitrary and misleading rationale and explain why failing to meaningfully analyze a project’s climate effects violates NEPA. Our comments also offer guidance for how the Commission should use the social cost of greenhouse gases metric based on the best available science and economics going forward.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments on California’s Distributed Energy Resources Policy

    April 13, 2018

    The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is developing a comprehensive policy for integrating Distributed Energy Resource (DERs), like rooftop solar, into its energy system. A March 2018 administrative law judge ruling heavily cited our earlier comments in laying out a revised plan to require the state’s utilities to conduct a societal cost test to help compare the net benefits of different DER technologies. We submitted comments to the CPUC commending the agency for its revisions to the proposed analysis and recommending additional improvements.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to Virginia on Its Proposal to Join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

    April 9, 2018

    The State of Virginia is proposing to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a carbon trading program currently including states across the Northeastern U.S. Including Virginia energy producers in RGGI will greatly expand the scope of the carbon market, thereby improving market efficiency, competitiveness, and lowering carbon abatement costs. Our comments to Virginia on its proposal offer two suggestions to ensure that Virginia’s addition to RGGI creates a competitive permit trading market

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  • Public Comments

    Joint Comments on the Midcontinent Supply Header Interstate Pipeline

    April 6, 2018

    We recently submitted joint comments with EDF and Sierra Club to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Midcontinent Supply Header Interstate Pipeline. The analysis covers a proposal to construct over 200 miles of pipeline, as well as compressor stations, a booster station, and accompanying facilities, to transport natural gas. The DEIS quantifies the tons of downstream greenhouse gas emissions related to this project—over 28 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year—but FERC fails to use the social cost of greenhouse gases metric to fully account for the climate effects of these emissions. FERC’s failure to adequately consider climate damages from the pipelines it approves is under increasing scrutiny. Our comments offer a detailed rejection of FERC’s rationale for excluding the social cost of greenhouse gases from this analysis, and give FERC additional guidance on how to monetize climate effects consistent with the currently best available science and economics.

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  • Court Filings

    Amicus Brief on New York’s Zero Emissions Credits and the Social Cost of Carbon

    March 28, 2018

    In 2016, the New York Public Service Commission adopted the Clean Energy Standard, an ambitious plan to increase renewable generation to 50% of the market by 2030. While working toward that goal, the State found it was necessary to pay nuclear generators through a zero-emissions credits (ZECs) system, as compensation for the value they provide in avoiding emissions. The State found that this would help guard against an increase in pollution if the nuclear generators were to close. Our amicus brief to the Supreme Court of New York in Albany County argues that the Commission’s decision to base ZEC prices on the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) was reasonable.

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  • Court Filings

    Brief to Forest Service on Expansion of Colorado’s West Elk Coal Mine

    March 27, 2018

    The U.S. Forest Service continues to ignore climate damages in its final approval of a coal mine expansion in Colorado, despite a court ruling that asked the Forest Service to disclose the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from the expansion. In its final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the project, Forest Service quantifies how much the expansion will increase greenhouse gases emissions but only gives a generic description of climate change and its effects. By not quantifying and monetizing the effects of this increase in emissions, the EIS obscures information necessary for the public to appreciate how the expansion will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in climate damages. Our brief to the District Court of Colorado argues that Forest Service’s failure to monetize climate impacts was arbitrary and is still in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments on Department of Energy’s Energy Conservation Standards Program

    March 26, 2018

    The Department of Energy (DOE) requested information on adding market-based compliance flexibilities to its Appliance and Equipment Energy Conservation Standards (ECS) Program. In many cases, market-based flexibilities lowered compliance costs, incentivized innovation, and decreased administrative burdens without sacrificing policy objectives. But in other cases, these policy tools may not improve economic efficiency and may actually undermine policy objectives. Comments from our Legal Director, Jason Schwartz, recommend that DOE should only proceed with market-based flexibilities after balancing gains to efficiency against unintended negative consequences to policy goals, and that better energy labels on appliances may be necessary to help prevent consumer confusion caused by the market system.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to California on Its Cap and Trade Program

    March 16, 2018

    California has legislation authorizing its Air Resources Board (ARB) to extend its cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions. This extension, while defining much of the program’s structure, asks ARB to develop some design features through a regulatory process and public feedback. California’s most recent changes to the plan are consistent with our previous comments on the program, and they place California on the path to internalizing the cost of climate change from carbon emissions. Our most recent set of comments encourage ARB to continue to set the price ceiling for carbon permits at least as high as the Social Cost of Carbon set by the Interagency Working Group in 2016, as it does in its Concept Paper on carbon pricing. We also encourage ARB to allocate preferentially any unsold carbon allowances to the price ceiling, rather than to a lower price.

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  • News

    Helping California Improve Energy Decisionmaking

    March 14, 2018

    California has long been a trendsetter in clean energy policy, and our input helped inform the state’s approach for evaluating distributed energy resources (DERs), such as rooftop solar installations. The state’s new approach, which will quantify the environmental benefits of DERs, could help influence other policies around the country, boosting the growth of clean energy sources. Our comments to the California Public Utilities Commission were heavily cited in a March 2018 administrative law judge ruling, which, if adopted by the Commission, would require utilities to conduct a societal cost test to determine the cost-effectiveness of DERs.

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