February 28, 2019
February 2019 at Policy Integrity
- New Jersey to Rejoin Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
- Andrew Wheeler’s EPA Record
- Energy Storage: New Commentary, Possible Policy Threat
- Costly Changes to Title X
- New Publications
- Pipeline Advocacy Projects
- Revesz Gives Distinguished Lecture at Florida State Law
- Book Launch on March 28
New Jersey is proposing to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative effort among northeastern states to reduce emissions through allowance trading. We submitted comments to both RGGI and New Jersey on how to best integrate the state into the program. We emphasize that New Jersey’s initial allowances level must be set below business-as-usual emissions. We also advise the state to ensure that its offset projects create verifiable carbon reductions and to apply the social cost of greenhouse gases metric in a full cost-benefit analysis of the proposal.
Richard Revesz authored a new piece in Slate that discusses the analytical shortcomings of the Environmental Protection Agency’s deregulatory measures under Andrew Wheeler, who was confirmed by the Senate on February 28. Revesz details how Wheeler’s EPA suffers the same pathologies as it did under Scott Pruitt. These pathologies severely compromise the quality of the agency’s work and the likelihood that it will be upheld by the courts.
Richard Revesz and Burcin Unel wrote a piece in The Regulatory Review that challenges the common assumption that the expansion of energy storage necessarily helps renewable energy sources and thereby reduces emissions of greenhouse gases. They show that storage could, instead, create incentives for using additional fossil fuels, and they suggest policy reforms designed to avoid these perverse results.
The New York Independent System Operator, which administers the state’s wholesale electricity markets, recently submitted changes to its market rules to encourage energy storage. The filing, however, prevents storage resources from participating in the wholesale markets if they also participate in retail compensation programs. We submitted comments explaining how this participation barrier is inconsistent with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements and should be changed.
The Department of Health and Human Services is making changes to the Title X program that will undermine affordable and accessible family planning and reproductive health services. In a recent letter to HHS that cites Policy Integrity’s comments, Representative Elijah Cummings and Senators Patty Murray, Maggie Hassan, and Kamala Harris explain why these changes are harmful and criticize the agency for failing to give adequate consideration to the rule’s health-related costs. Our comments detail the costs omitted by the HHS analysis.
Richard Revesz and Kimberly Castle published an article in the Minnesota Law Review titled, “Environmental Standards, Thresholds, and the Next Battleground of Climate Change Regulations.” The article examines the scientific literature, longstanding agency practices, and judicial precedent to conclude that there is no threshold below which the health effects of particulate matter can be ignored. Thus, pollution reductions under the level of National Ambient Air Quality Standards need to be taken into account when assessing the benefits of air quality regulations.
Sylwia Bialek and Burcin Unel published an article in The Electricity Journal, “Will You Be There for Me the Whole Time: On the Importance of Obligation Periods in Design of Capacity Markets.” They discuss how seasonal variations in resource availability and electricity demand affect the efficiency of capacity market designs.
Bethany Davis Noll and Burcin Unel published an article in the New York University Environmental Law Review titled, “Markets, Externalities, and the Federal Power Act: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Authority to Price Carbon Dioxide Emissions.” Their article shows how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the authority to address the external cost of carbon dioxide emissions in order to achieve an efficient electricity market.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently released its analysis of the Annova LNG Brownsville Project. FERC quantifies over 350,000 tons per year of direct operational carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions from the proposed natural gas terminal, but fails to provide a meaningful assessment of the resulting climate impacts. We submitted joint comments with leading environmental organizations urging the agency to better contextualize the project’s impacts using the social cost of greenhouse gases methodology.
We also submitted joint comments with similar criticism of FERC’s analysis of the Adelphia Gateway Pipeline Project. Our comments ask the agency to quantify downstream emissions and weigh climate damages by making monetized estimates.
Policy Integrity attorney Avi Zevin was quoted in a recent E&E News article discussing another project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Judges in the D.C. Circuit rejected challenges to FERC’s limited analysis of the project’s climate impacts, but, as Zevin explains, a challenge to the PennEast pipeline will “open another door for consideration of the social cost of carbon.”
Revesz Gives Distinguished Lecture at Florida State Law
Richard Revesz visited Florida State University College of Law this month, where he spoke as the Spring 2019 Environmental Distinguished Lecturer. Revesz’s talk, “Institutional Pathologies in the Regulatory State: What Scott Pruitt Taught Us About Regulatory Policy,” laid out the reasons why many recent EPA deregulatory efforts have been successfully challenged in court.
On March 28, Policy Integrity is hosting the launch of a new book, “Discerning Experts: The Practices of Scientific Assessment for Environmental Policy.” Written by Policy Integrity board member Michael Oppenheimer, Naomi Oreskes, Dale Jamieson, Keynyn Brysse, Jessica O’Reilly, Matthew Shindell, and Milena Wazeck, the book assesses how scientists deliberate and decide on the facts that guide environmental policy and action. The event will feature a discussion with the authors and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Dan Fagin, and is co-sponsored by NYU School of Law and NYU’s Department of Environmental Studies.