September 30, 2016
September 2016 at Policy Integrity: Clean Power Plan Oral Arguments; New Report on Coal Royalties; “Environmental Policy Under the New Administration” Conference; Public Comments on Distributed Energy Issues; Staff Spotlight: Legal Fellow Caroline Cecot
Clean Power Plan Oral Arguments
On September 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in the legal challenge to EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and many observers felt that the marathon argument favored EPA. Policy Integrity has been active in this litigation, submitting an amicus brief for the case and publishing a recent report on how the rule acknowledges and respects all relevant statutory constraints. We also authored a new op-ed on the rule’s legal standing and an analysis of a footnote that could sway the case. Additionally, we commented on the litigation in the New Yorker, Reuters, Sidewire, and other outlets.
Royalties have been used to influence behavior and achieve policy goals throughout U.S. history. Our new report highlights how royalty rates can be used as a policy lever to improve the federal coal program and account for externalities. Adjusting these rates can help internalize the public health impacts of federal coal production, ensure American taxpayers are earning a fair return for the private use of these public resources, and align the federal coal program with national climate change priorities. The report explains why such an approach is consistent with history and economic justifications. We recently shared the report with the Department of the Interior, which is undertaking a review of the federal coal program.
One week after the election, our annual conference will explore potential shifts in natural resources policy, energy sector regulation, and climate change policy under the new administration. This daylong event will feature a distinguished group of current and former government officials, energy industry executives, environmental advocates, and policy experts to discuss what’s on the horizon as the new president prepares to take office. Continuing Legal Education credit will be available. Admission is free but space is limited. You can RSVP here.
Public Comments on Distributed Energy Issues
In September, we submitted public comments on two separate issues involving distributed energy resources (DER), to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the New York State Public Service Commission. NARUC is developing a DER Compensation Manual to assist states with policy decisions, and our comments explained that it is necessary to quantify the societal benefits of DER to accurately value and compensate these resources, and that it is important to be specific in distinguishing between the concepts of compensation, valuation, and rate design in order to solve these questions. Our comments to the NY Public Service Commission focus on Benefit Cost Analysis Handbooks that utility companies submitted as part of New York State’s Reforming the Energy Vision proceedings. Our comments explain that it is important for the Handbooks to properly account for all externalities, to be technology neutral, and to be subject to independent review by third parties and stakeholders.
Staff Spotlight: Legal Fellow Caroline Cecot
Caroline Cecot is Policy Integrity’s newest Legal Fellow, and Affiliate Faculty at George Mason School of Law. Her research interests include cost-benefit analysis, regulatory reform, and environmental regulation. Previously, Cecot was a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Law and Economics at Vanderbilt Law School, a Research Associate at the AEI-Brookings Joint Center, and a Law Clerk to Judge Raymond J. Lohier, Jr., of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Cecot holds a Ph.D. in law and economics from Vanderbilt University and a J.D. from Vanderbilt Law School. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and law reviews. After her year at Policy Integrity, she will join the faculty at George Mason School of Law as Assistant Professor of Law.