October 31, 2022
October 2022 at Policy Integrity
- Policy Integrity Petition Prompts FTC Action on Hidden Fees
- New Analysis of Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing
- Impacts of West Virginia v. EPA on Climate and Regulatory Policy
- Overcoming Information Barriers in Distributed Energy Resource Deployment
- Ensuring Equitable Grid Resilience Investments
- More From This Month
Policy Integrity Petition Prompts FTC Action on Hidden Fees
In a win for consumers, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this month initiated a rulemaking on reigning in hidden fees, granting a petition Policy Integrity submitted in 2021. Our petition called for a new rule banning the use of “drip pricing”—a strategy used by some sellers to lure in consumers with deceptively low prices, only to reveal hidden mandatory fees on the verge of purchase. The practice is pervasive in concert and event ticket sales as well as hotel and vacation rentals, among other examples. Legal fellow Laura Figueroa provided video comments for the FTC meeting to discuss drip pricing and encourage the FTC to ban the practice. In an earlier New York Times op-ed, Max Sarinsky also discussed how the FTC can address this problematic practice.
New Analysis of Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing
In July, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) proposed an oil and gas leasing program for 2023–2028. Its economic analysis of the plan found that the benefits of proposed lease sales over the next five years would exceed the costs. But our comments show that BOEM’s analysis severely understates the costs of such leasing—particularly the climate costs. The comments are based on two new Policy Integrity reports: one offering original economic modeling by Minhong Xu and Peter Howard which found that the climate costs of offshore leasing alone may exceed the total benefits from that leasing, and another explaining the Department of the Interior’s legal authority to consider downstream emissions from offshore leasing. We separately submitted the former report to the Bureau of Land Management to explain the flaws in its substitution analysis for a 30-year oil extraction plan under consideration in Alaska.
Impacts of West Virginia v. EPA on Climate and Regulatory Policy
After the Supreme Court handed down its decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this year, many speculated on what it does—and does not—mean for current and future climate and regulatory policies. Our recent comments argued that the ruling does not affect the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s proposed policy statements requiring consideration of climate impacts in gas pipeline approval proceedings. We explain that the "major questions doctrine" does not apply because the proposed policy statements are neither unheralded nor transformative, which West Virginia requires to trigger the doctrine.
In a piece for Power Magazine, Dena Adler concludes that West Virginia will shape, but not stop, power plant regulation. Adler and Sarinsky also explore the doctrine’s reach in an op-ed for the American Bar Association’s Administrative and Regulatory Law newsletter, explaining that the doctrine remains limited to “extraordinary” cases.
Overcoming Information Barriers in Distributed Energy Resource Deployment
Distributed energy resources (DERs) play an important and growing role in the electricity grid and the clean energy transition, but information problems are a major – and often overlooked – barrier to effective DER deployment. Key information about distribution networks, energy consumption, and marginal emission rates is often lacking or inaccessible, impeding new deployment and effective policymaking.
A new policy brief by Burçin Ünel and Amanda Zerbe describes various policy options to overcome these information barriers. These options include legislative directives to share consumer data, requirements to publish hosting capacity maps, and creating incentives for information sharing. The brief explores these options and examines existing initiatives to overcome information barriers. The brief is based on research conducted by Sylwia Bialek, Yury Dvokin, Hafiz Anwar Ullah Khan, Jip Kim, and Burçin Ünel.
Ensuring Equitable Grid Resilience Investments
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act instructs the Department of Energy (DOE) to distribute $10.5 billion in competitive grant funding to projects that enhance electric grid resilience, flexibility, and reliability. In response to DOE’s Request for Information about how to implement this program, the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) program, we submitted comments urging the agency to clarify how it will distribute project funding and to enhance program transparency. Our comments asked DOE to clarify how it will evaluate applications and to better define what "community benefits" it hopes to achieve. We also suggested that DOE require project applicants to submit cost-benefit analyses so that the agency can better compare projects when making funding decisions. These recommendations can help ensure that grid resilience investments are distributed as equitably and effectively as possible.
More From This Month
- In a blog post for Policy Integrity Insights, Taylor Cranor and Michael Kaercher explain how tax policy will be an important vehicle for climate policy and the importance of public interest stakeholder input in this process.
- Burçin Ünel hosted a plenary session on energy justice at the US Association for Energy Economics conference.
We also submitted comments to:
- The Department of Energy on its use of the social cost of greenhouse gas metrics in its new energy conservation standards for consumer furnaces.
- The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities on recommendations for implementing its resource adequacy goals.