Institute for Policy Integrity logo

Recent Projects

  • Comments on EPA’s Supplemental Proposal on Oil and Gas Sector Methane Standards

    In December 2022, EPA issued a Supplemental Proposal to update, strengthen, and expand its proposed standards to regulate methane emissions from new and existing sources in the oil and natural gas sector. We submitted comments on EPA’s Supplemental Proposal and underlying Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) recommending that EPA strengthen its RIA to more fully capture the impacts of these standards by: (1) extending the timeframe of its analysis to quantify net benefits past 2035, (2) monetizing ozone health benefits related to methane emissions reductions, (3) better monetizing and quantifying co-benefits, and (4) better quantifying the impacts of the super-emitter response program or using a breakeven analysis if further quantification is not possible. We further recommended that EPA expand its distributional analysis of the impacts of the rule.

    Read more

  • The Obligation to Serve in Massachusetts Cover

    The Obligation to Serve in Massachusetts

    Gas Service and the Energy Transition

    In Massachusetts, achieving the state’s decarbonization target in a cost-effective manner will likely require the refusal of new gas service in addition to the termination of existing gas service in certain buildings and its replacement with electric service. The scope of utilities’ legal obligation to serve their customers will be central to those efforts. This brief analyzes the contours of this obligation by examining the relevant Massachusetts statutes, regulations, Public Utility Commission decisions, and case law.

    Read more

  • Comments to FTC on Unfair or Deceptive Fees Trade Regulation

    On October 20 2022, the FTC voted to grant the Institute for Policy Integrity’s petition for rulemaking and issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Unfair or Deceptive Fees Trade Regulation Rule. Commissioner Christine S. Wilson issued a dissenting statement in which she raised major questions doctrine concerns and asked for precedent that supports FTC's authority to promulgate this rule. We submitted a letter responding to Commissioner Wilson’s concern and providing regulatory antecedents supporting the FTC’s authority. In this letter, Policy Integrity shows that FTC's rule would not be unheralded nor represent a transformative change in the agency's authority, and therefore, it would not implicate the major questions doctrine.

    Read more

  • Comments to DOE on Energy Conservation Standards for Circulator Pumps

    Together with partner groups, we submitted joint comments to the Department of Energy (DOE) on its proposed rule to strengthen energy conservation standards for circulator pumps. Our comments applaud the agency for appropriately applying the social cost of greenhouse gases to estimate the climate benefits of the proposed standards. We also suggest that DOE apply additional analysis using draft updated climate-damage valuations that the Environmental Protection Agency recently released.

    Read more

  • Comment Letter on BLM Waste Prevention Rule

    In November, the Bureau of Land Management proposed a regulation to reduce the waste of natural gas on federal lands through venting, flaring, and leakage. In our comment letter, we recommend avenues for BLM to bolster its legal and economic support for the proposal. In particular, we recommend that BLM more expressly disavow its prior position that waste-prevention regulations must benefit regulated industry, more closely evaluate the proposal’s effects to ensure that its analysis fully captures resulting benefits and royalty revenues, and recognize the significance of the rule’s climate benefits. 

    Read more

  • Comments to SEC on Major Questions Doctrine

    In June 2022, the Institute for Policy Integrity jointly submitted three comments to the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding its Proposed Rule on the Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors. One of those comments highlighted regulatory precedents reaching back nearly sixty years that support the SEC's approach in the Proposed Rule. On January 30, 2023, we submitted as supplemental comments a recent article from Natasha Brunstein and Donald L. R. Goodson, Unheralded and Transformative: The Test for Major Questions After West Virginia, forthcoming in the William and Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, which analyzes the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA, 142 S. Ct. 2587 (2022). This new article bolsters the relevance of the regulatory precedents cited in Policy Integrity's previous joint comments as support for the Proposed Rule.

    Read more

  • Electricity Tariff Design via Lens of Energy Justice Cover

    Electricity Tariff Design via Lens of Energy Justice

    Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) can significantly affect the net social benefit in power systems, raising concerns pertaining to distributional justice and equity. Current tariff design approaches suffer from opaque efficiency-equity trade-offs and are also agnostic of the externalities that affect both economic efficiency and equity. Therefore, this paper develops a justice-cognizant tariff design framework that improves the operational savings in the system without sacrificing distributional equity, and encompasses economic welfare, social costs of environmental and public health impacts, and socio-economic and demographic characteristics of electricity consumers. We evaluate four different tariff structures using a Multi-Objective Problem with Equilibrium Constraints. We then compare the operational savings and equity of the proposed framework using the 11-zone New York ISO and 7-bus Manhattan power networks. The results demonstrate that justice-cognizant, and spatially- and temporally-granular tariffs ensure equity and increase the operational savings at a lower energy burden to consumers.

    Read more

  • Just Regulation: Improving Distributional Analysis in Agency Rulemaking Cover

    Just Regulation: Improving Distributional Analysis in Agency Rulemaking

    Published in Ecology Law Quarterly

    This Article seeks to understand the shortcomings of current agency practice and outline what agencies can do better. To do so, it examines fifteen significant proposed or final agency rules promulgated during the Biden-Harris Administration’s first eighteen months and reveals four categories of limitations. First, agencies often pursue inconsistent goals across different regulatory initiatives. Second, they do not grapple with the core issue that distributional analysis should raise: the extent to which the better distributional consequences of one alternative should trump the higher net benefits of another alternative. Third, agencies do not apply a consistent approach to defining disadvantaged groups, which makes the analysis inconsistent and unpredictable. Fourth, the distributional analysis relies on a truncated set of costs and benefits, and thus presents an incomplete picture of the consequences of regulation on disadvantaged communities.

    Read more

  • Comments on NRCS Agriculture Funding Strategy

    Policy Integrity submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in response to its Request for Information about how it can most effectively distribute its share of Inflation Reduction Act funding. This $19 billion in funding, which is allocated across NRCS's core conservation programs, must be given out to support agricultural practices that reduce or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. Our comments encourage NRCS to award the funding to practices that will maximize net social benefits and to increase the transparency of its project-ranking process. We urge NRCS to consider a range of factors in its analysis, including a practice's potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, produce knowledge, and offer ecosystem services.

    Read more

  • Comment Letter Calling for Rescission of DOE Categorical Exclusion Rule for LNG Exports

    In response to the Department of Energy’s recent request for information on its categorical exclusions, we submitted a comment letter recommending that the Department rescind its 2020 regulation establishing categorical exclusion B5.7 for discretionary authorizations to export liquefied natural gas. As our comment letter explains, long-term expansion of export capacity may lock in fossil-fuel usage over the long term and thereby impede global decarbonization efforts. Yet when promulgating its categorical exclusion rule, the Department erroneously argued that indirect climate effects are not relevant to its assessment of applications for export authorization, and based its sweeping categorical exclusion on that improper legal conclusion. Our comment letter provides a proper understanding of the Department’s broad authority, which compels the agency to robustly consider impacts on climate change as part of its authorization process.

    Read more