Comments to the New York Public Service Commission on Medium- and Heavy-Duty Electric Vehicle Charging
Together with Resources for the Future, we submitted comments to the New York Public Service Commission in response to questions posed by the Commission about addressing barriers to medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicle charging. Our comments focus on the possibility for managed charging to reduce infrastructure needs and on additional considerations to optimize emissions outcomes. Our comments are centered around depot charging and draw on research that examines fleet charging needs in a depot setting.
Comments to FERC on its Backstop Siting Authority
Following the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposed implementing regulations for its authority to site transmission projects that have been rejected or not acted upon by states. We filed comments advising FERC that, to make these determinations and satisfy FERC's obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Commission must consider how proposed transmission projects would affect emissions from power plants. Our comments further recommend improvements to the proposed rule's environmental justice provisions, which also relate to FERC's obligation to ensure that proposed projects are consistent with the public interest.
Comments to DOE on Proposed Efficiency Standards for Conventional Cooking Products and External Power Supplies
We submitted comment letters to the Department of Energy (DOE) on its proposed rules to strengthen energy conservation standards, respectively, for consumer conventional cooking products and external power supplies. 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 to each rule using draft updated climate-damage valuations that the Environmental Protection Agency released in November 2022.
Comments to Council on Environmental Quality on Interim Guidance on Considering Climate Change Under NEPA
In January, the Council on Environmental Quality published interim guidance providing best practices to federal agencies on the consideration of climate change in environmental reviews conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act. The guidance provides helpful direction to agencies on assessing how proposed actions and their alternatives (1) will contribute to climate change through their greenhouse gas emissions; and (2) will potentially be affected or have their environmental consequences exacerbated by climate change impacts. Our comment commends CEQ on its thorough guidance and provides recommendations to strengthen both areas.
Amicus Brief Defending NHTSA Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards
In May 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized a rule to increase its corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for passenger cars and light trucks for model years 2024–2026. A group of fuel and petrochemical manufacturers and states challenged the standards in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, arguing primarily that the Energy Policy and Conservation Act bars NHTSA from including electric vehicles in the analytical baseline for the new standards. Our amicus brief explains that longstanding administrative guidance and case law direct agencies to develop baselines that reflect their best assessment of the real world absent any new agency action. In the context of this rulemaking, that guidance and case law required NHTSA to project how many and what kinds of vehicles—including electric (and plug-in hybrid electric) vehicles—would be built and sold if it did not issue new CAFE standards, which is what NHTSA did here. Our amicus brief also explains that NHTSA has consistently prepared baselines for prior CAFE standards in this manner.
Amicus Brief Defending EPA Tailpipe Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards
In December 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a regulation to strengthen its greenhouse gas emission standards for light-duty vehicles. Although regulated automakers support EPA’s approach, a group of states and oil-and-gas companies have challenged the standards in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, claiming that the standards misapply economic principles and violate the major questions doctrine. In our amicus brief, we explain that EPA’s regulation is consistent with sound economics and established practice.
Targeted Regulation for Reducing High-Ozone Events
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are a precursor to ground-level ozone, a pernicious pollutant that is harmful to human health and ecosystems. Despite decades of regulations and a sharp decline in NOx emissions, episodic high-ozone events prevent many areas from attaining air quality standards. Theoretically, spatially or temporally differentiated emissions prices could be more cost effective at reducing such events than a uniform price. To test this prediction, with data from EPA and NOAA spanning 2001–2019, this working paper uses novel empirical strategies to estimate (1) the link between hourly emissions and high-ozone events and (2) hourly marginal abatement costs. These estimates form the basis for simulations that compare uniform and differentiated emissions pricing. Consistent with economic theory, differentiated pricing is substantially more cost effective at reducing high-ozone events, but this advantage depends on the accuracy of the estimated NOx–ozone relationship.
Comments on EPA Draft Update to Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas Metrics
Together with a coalition of environmental groups, we submitted comments to EPA on its draft update to the social cost of greenhouse gas estimates of climate damage. We commended the agency's extraordinary advances and recommended ways to further improve the accuracy of the metrics.
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.
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.
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