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Recent Projects

  • Public Comments

    Comments to the Interior Department’s Royalty Policy Committee

    September 7, 2018

    We recently submitted comments to the Department of the Interior’s Royalty Policy Committee (“RPC”) in advance of the Committee’s third public meeting of the year. As we have discussed in past papers and public comments, existing royalty rates fail to account for the full costs of fossil fuel production, including local and global air pollution.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission on Electric Resource Planning

    September 7, 2018

    We recently submitted comments about to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, which is reviewing its rules on electric resource planning (“ERP”). Our comments aim is to ensure that a proper valuation of externalities is integrated into Colorado’s ERP process, and we suggest using the Social Cost of Carbon to monetize greenhouse gas externalities.

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  • Public Comments

    Policy Integrity Input Leads to Climate Progress in Nevada

    August 30, 2018

    Input from the Institute for Policy Integrity helped encourage Nevada to modernize its energy policymaking by accounting for the impacts of carbon pollution in key electric utility planning decisions. At the recommendation of Policy Integrity and partner groups, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada recently included language on the Obama-era Interagency Work Group’s Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) in new rules governing utilities’ resource plans.Utilities will now have to analyze and clearly disclose the damages caused by climate change when evaluating alternative long-term resource plans. This information will be used by utilities and the Commission when selecting their preferred resource plan.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to EPA on Weakening the Chemical Disaster Rule

    August 23, 2018

    In May 2018, EPA proposed to repeal significant portions of the Chemical Disaster Rule, a rule that would have improved safety procedures at chemical plants. In response, we submitted comments highlighting the ways in which this proposed deregulatory action is arbitrary and capricious

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  • Academic Articles/Working Papers

    Congress and the Executive

    August 15, 2018

    Critics of the administrative state have been urging Congress to rein in regulatory action, claiming that regulations created by executive agencies are undesirable as a matter of policy and are in violation of constitutional principles. In a troubling development, the Trump Administration has also turned away from cost-benefit analysis in order to carry out its anti-regulatory agenda, disregarding an established bipartisan consensus that stretched back several decades.

    This article, published in the Michigan State Law Review, argues that this anti-regulatory position is unwarranted. These executive regulatory actions produced large net benefits to the American people, were carried out pursuant to authority delegated by Congress, and were reviewed by the courts. By contrast, more robust action by Congress, as long as Congress continues to exhibit its current gridlock on important policy issues like climate change, is unlikely to be beneficial.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to EPA on Increasing Transparency in Cost-Benefit Analysis

    August 13, 2018

    Claiming an unsubstantiated need to improve consistency and transparency in its economic analyses, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering revisions to how it weighs costs and benefits in rulemakings. In our comments to EPA, we argue that this proposal is searching for a problem that does not exist. In implying that the agency’s past analyses have somehow inappropriately considered costs and benefits, EPA relies on vague or false assumptions and misleading examples. In fact, through 2016, EPA’s past analyses of regulatory costs and benefits were among the most thorough, consistent, and transparent regulatory impact analyses conducted in the federal government and had justified some of the most net beneficial rules in the history of federal regulation.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to FERC on a Natural Gas Project EIS

    August 13, 2018

    We recently submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on a natural gas processing and storage facility and marine export terminal in Louisiana, the Calcasieu Pass Project. While the DEIS quantifies the tons of greenhouse gas emissions related to this project—almost 4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year from operations, plus hundreds of thousands of tons per year during construction—FERC fails to apply the social cost of greenhouse gas metric to fully account for the climate effects of these emissions. Once again, FERC resorts to flawed arguments used in other inadequate NEPA reviews to implicitly justify why the Commission chose not to use the social cost of greenhouse gases metric for the Calcasieu project. Our comments provide a detailed rejection of FERC’s arbitrary and misleading rationale for failing to use the social cost of greenhouse gases, and offer additional guidance on how to monetize climate effects consistent with the currently best available science and economics.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to EPA and Army Corp on Supplemental Notice for Clean Water Rule

    August 10, 2018

    Following a Proposed Repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Rule, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corp of Engineers issued a Supplemental Notice in July 2018 regarding the Proposed Repeal. We previously submitted comments to the agencies on the Proposed Repeal explaining that the economic analysis accompanying that Proposed Repeal was fundamentally flawed. In this notice, the agencies state that they are “not relying” on that economic analysis.

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  • News

    Policy Integrity Article Cited in Suit Against Interior’s Royalty Policy Committee

    August 9, 2018

    A group of NGOS, led by the Western Organization of Resource Councils, recently filed a complaint in the District of Montana Court regarding Secretary of the Interior Zinke’s Royalty Policy Committee (RPC). The complaint argues that though the RPC should be acting transparently on behalf of American taxpayers, it is in fact working in secret to advance the interest of extractive industries. In the complaint, the petitioners cite a recent Harvard Environmental Law Review article by Policy Director, Jayni Foley Hein, Federal Lands and Fossil Fuels: Maximizing Social Welfare in Federal Energy Leasing, to help make their case.

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  • Academic Articles/Working Papers

    The Future of Distributed Generation

    August 8, 2018

    As distributed energy generation is becoming increasingly common, the debate on how a utility’s customers should be compensated for the excess energy they sell back to the grid is intensifying. And net metering, the practice of compensating for such energy at the retail rate for electricity, is becoming the subject of intense political disagreement. Utilities argue that net metering fails to compensate them for grid construction and distribution costs and that it gives rise to regressive cost shifting among its customers. Conversely, solar energy proponents argue that the compensation should be higher than the retail rate to account for other benefits that distributed generation systems provide, such as the resulting climate change and other environmental benefits, as well as the savings resulting from not needing to build new installations to provide additional capacity. This ongoing debate is leading to significant changes to net metering policies in many states.

    This article provides an overview of the benefits and the costs of distributed generation and highlights the analytical flaws and missing elements in the competing positions and in most existing policies. We propose an alternative approach that recognizes the contributions to the electric grid of both utilities and distributed generators. The article is excerpted and revised from a longer academic article, Managing the Future of the Electricity Grid: Distributed Generation and Net Metering, which was selected by Environmental Law Reporter as one of the five best environmental law articles published in the 2016-2017 academic year.

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