Project Updates – Energy and Environment

  • Wednesday
    February 26th,
    2014

    Comments Submitted to OMB in Support of the Social Cost of Carbon

    Policy Integrity submitted comments to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) voicing our support for the Administration’s continued use of the social cost of carbon (SCC) as it provides an important, if conservative, estimate of the costs of climate change and the benefits of reducing carbon pollution.

    The SCC is an estimate of the damage caused by each ton of carbon emissions. It is used in the cost-benefit analyses of regulations that seek greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The estimate is a vital part of creating effective policies that protect our environment and people’s health and well-being. It is the best available tool that helps inform the most accurate cost-benefit analyses for good public policy decisionmaking.

    Our comments, submitted jointly with the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, specifically address the Interagency Working Group’s Technical Support Document under Executive Order 12,866.

    While we urge the OMB to direct the Administration and all relevant agencies to continue using the SCC, we find that the current version is biased downward. We encourage regular updates that reflect the latest science and economics.

    Policy Integrity has long supported using the SCC while encouraging future work on improving the estimate. In October 2013, our group, along with those listed above, submitted comments opposing a petition for correction on the SCC. The petition for correction seeks to stop government agencies from using the current estimates. We explain why the petitioners’ arguments are wrong and why they should be dismissed. We also argue that the SCC is in fact likely to be significantly underestimated, rather than inflated, as the petitioners claim. We have noted our concern about the underestimation in comments to the Department of Energy in November 2013, as well as in comments submitted in October.

    Issue(s): Energy and Environment  

  • Monday
    February 24th,
    2014

    Policy Integrity Staff Attend Supreme Court Oral Arguments on EPA PSD Permitting Case

    Policy Integrity director, Richard Revesz, legal director, Jason Schwartz, and legal fellow Denise Grab were at the Supreme Court today to hear oral arguments in the case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources under the prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) program.

    In an amicus brief we filed in January, we pointed out that for more than 30 years, and through rulemakings under five different presidential administrations, EPA has consistently interpreted PSD permitting to apply to all pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act. That argument was mentioned by the government’s representative.

    Industry and state petitioners are challenging a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases under PSD, which applies to large, stationary sources of air pollutants, such as electric power plants, factories, and oil refineries, that are new or undergoing modifications in relatively unpolluted areas.

    The PSD program works in concert with other provisions of the Clean Air Act to strike a careful balance between the regulation of existing sources and the regulation of new or modified sources. Industry’s interpretations of the PSD requirements would create inconsistencies with other programs under the Clean Air Act, like the New Source Performance Standards, and could increase the amount of pollution stemming unchecked from older, dirtier, so-called “grandfathered” sources.

    Issue(s): Energy and Environment   Type: Amicus Briefs

  • Tuesday
    January 28th,
    2014

    Supreme Court Amicus Brief on EPA’s PSD Permitting Case

    Policy Integrity filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources under the prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) program.

    The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases under PSD, which applies to large, stationary sources of air pollutants, such as electric power plants, factories, and oil refineries, that are new or undergoing modifications in relatively unpolluted areas.

    The industry and state petitioners who challenged the D.C. Circuit Court decision argue that PSD requirements should be triggered only by pollutants with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) or with primarily local air quality impacts. We find this argument untenable. For more than 30 years and through rulemakings under five different presidential administrations, EPA has consistently interpreted PSD permitting to apply to all pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act, including non-NAAQS pollutants and those with global impacts.

    Congress also weighed in when it selectively amended the Clean Air Act in 1990 to exclude only Section 112 hazardous air pollutants—but not other non-NAAQS or non-local pollutants—from PSD review. This targeted amendment supports Congress’s agreement with EPA that non-NAAQS and non-local pollutants covered under the Act do in fact trigger requirements for PSD permitting.

    The PSD program works in concert with other provisions of the Clean Air Act to strike a careful balance between the regulation of existing sources and the regulation of new or modified sources. Industry’s interpretations of the PSD requirements would create inconsistencies with other programs under the Clean Air Act, like the New Source Performance Standards, and could increase the amount of pollution stemming unchecked from older, dirtier, so-called “grandfathered” sources.

    Policy Integrity Director Richard Revesz, along with other experts, earlier discussed the Supreme Court’s decision to review only the narrow PSD issue in the D.C. Circuit Court decision covering the broader greenhouse gas regulation scheme. The panel, brought together by the Frank J. Guarini Center on Environmental and Land Use Law, examined the implications of the decision and discussed the real-world consequences for greenhouse gas controls. In leaving EPA’s endangerment finding in place, the Supreme Court affirmed the EPA’s authority and obligation to proceed with its program for controlling greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

    Issue(s): Energy and Environment  

  • Tuesday
    January 28th,
    2014

    Comments on EPA Proposed 2014 Standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program

    Policy Integrity submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the agency’s proposed 2014 standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. EPA proposes to reduce renewable fuel targets from 2013 levels, due to concerns regarding industry’s ability to produce sufficient quantities of qualifying fuel and consumers’ ability to use the fuel. This backsliding highlights the RFS program’s inability to guarantee steady reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

    EPA can more efficiently and predictably address transportation-related greenhouse gas pollution via a cap-and-trade program for vehicle fuels. As detailed in our 2009 and 2013 petitions, EPA has broad authority to implement such a program under the Clean Air Act.

    Issue(s): Energy and Environment   Type: Public Comments

  • Friday
    January 10th,
    2014

    Comments on Con Edison Storm Hardening and Resilience Collaborative Report

    On January 10, Policy Integrity, along with New York University’s Guarini Center, submitted comments on Con Edison’s Storm Hardening and Resilience Collaborative Report. The comments urge New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to extend the charter of the cost-benefit analysis working group convened as part of the collaborative process surrounding Con Edison’s latest ratemaking proceeding.

    A comprehensive approach to cost-benefit analysis will help the PSC properly address the challenges the state’s energy system will face over the coming years, including climate change, security risks, and integrating newer technologies for distributed generation, demand response, and alternative energy service utility models.

    State public utilities commissions have taken a variety of approaches to valuing the costs and benefits of energy investments depending on the context. As grid resiliency becomes an increasingly salient issue in a changing world, it is important for New York to explore how to properly conduct cost-benefit analyses in the resiliency context.

    Issue(s): Energy and Environment   Type: Public Comments