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Recent Projects

Viewing recent projects in Climate Change and Energy Policy
  • Academic Articles/Working Papers

    Environmental Standards, Thresholds, and the Next Battleground of Climate Change Regulations

    February 15, 2019

    This article addresses a central battleground of the debate about the future of greenhouse gas regulations: the valuation of particulate matter reductions that accompany reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. The benefits from particulate matter reductions are substantial for climate change rules, accounting for almost one half of the quantified benefits of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. These benefits are also significant for regulations of other air pollutants, making this issue one of far-reaching importance for the future of environmental protection.

    Opponents of environmental regulation, including the Trump Administration, have recently embraced an aggressive line of attack on particulate matter benefits. They argue alternatively that these benefits are not real; are being “double counted” in other regulations; or should not be considered when they are the co-benefits, rather than the direct benefits, of specific regulations. This article collects and analyzes for the first time the robust support for valuing particulate matter benefits. An examination of the scientific literature, longstanding agency practices under administrations of both major political parties, and judicial precedent reveals that particulate matter benefits deserve a meaningful role in regulatory cost-benefit analysis.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to FERC on Adelphia Gateway Pipeline Project

    February 4, 2019

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently released an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Adelphia Gateway Project. FERC quantifies nearly 90,000 tons per year of direct carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions, but offers no meaningful analysis of the pipeline’s climate impacts. We submitted joint comments urging FERC to better weigh the significance of project’s impacts using the social cost of greenhouse gases methodology.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to FERC on Annova Natural Gas Project

    February 4, 2019

    In the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Annova LNG Brownsville Project, the agency quantifies over 350,000 tons per year of direct operational carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions from the proposed natural gas terminal. But FERC fails to provide meaningful analysis of the resulting climate impacts. We submitted joint comments urging FERC to better contextualize the project’s impacts using the social cost of greenhouse gases methodology.

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  • Issue Briefs

    A Lower Bound

    January 31, 2019

    The Social Cost of Carbon, developed by the Obama-era Interagency Working Group (IWG), is the best available tool for measuring the economic damages from greenhouse gas emissions. It has been used in analysis for over 100 federal regulations that affect greenhouse gas emissions, as well as by a number of states in electricity and climate policy. Still, many significant impacts identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are difficult to quantify and so have been omitted from the IWG SCC estimates. Impacts such as increased fire risk, slower economic growth, and large-scale migration are all unaccounted for, despite their potential to cause large economic losses. Our new issue brief discusses these omissions and other variables that will influence climate outcomes. We encourage policymakers to account for this likely underestimate by viewing the SCC as a lower bound for damages.

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  • Court Filings

    Amicus Brief on Climate Impacts of the PennEast Pipeline Project

    December 28, 2018

    In January, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authorized the construction and operation of the PennEast Pipeline Project, a 116-mile natural gas pipeline between Pennsylvania and New Jersey and associated facilities. FERC’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) showed that the project will result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions but did little more than quantify those emissions, failing to fully analyze and consider the climate impacts of the project. We submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that demonstrates how FERC could have used the Social Cost of Carbon to analyze the pipeline’s climate impacts.

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  • Public Comments

    Supplemental Comments to NHTSA and EPA on Vehicle Emissions Standards

    December 21, 2018

    In October, we submitted comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) critiquing the proposed Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule. We now have also submitted supplemental comments rebutting an analysis, prepared by NERA Economic Consulting and Trinity Consultants and submitted by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, in support of the proposed rule.

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  • Academic Articles/Working Papers

    Environmental Federalism in a Dark Time

    December 20, 2018

    The principle of federalism has become something of a rallying cry in recent efforts by the Trump Administration and its allies to scale back environmental regulation. For example, during his short and troubled tenure, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt argued that the federal government has become too intrusive and that states should be returned to a position of “regulatory primacy” on environmental matters. Some states have responded to the impeding federal retreat by forging ahead. For example, California has continued to take aggressive steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and has even taken steps to project its influence internationally. However, despite these hopeful signs of resistance, the net effect of the Trump Administration’s efforts to scale back federal environmental policy is likely to undermine rather than energize state environmental policymaking, especially in Republican-dominated and swing states, where the climate policy vacuum is most acute.

    This article, published in the Ohio State Law Journal, explains why, in cases where collective action is needed, the national government remains indispensable. Some states, especially Blue states, continue to forge ahead on
    climate and clean energy policy in the face of regulatory rollbacks at the federal level. But these efforts face headwinds in the form of resistance from the federal government. Even worse, development on these policies has slowed or stopped in many Red and Purple states under the Trump Administration. This represents a lost opportunity to develop valuable political information about how to productively approach climate policy in more conservative areas.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to EPA on Reconsideration of Methane Standards for New Sources

    December 17, 2018

    In 2016, EPA finalized a set of performance standards for new, reconstructed, and modified sources of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the oil and natural gas sector. A recent proposal, however, aims to weaken the 2016 rule in a variety of ways, with the goal of reducing the regulatory “burden” on industry. We submitted comments that focus on inadequacies in the cost-benefit analysis accompanying the proposed rule.

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  • Academic Articles/Working Papers

    Regulation and Distribution

    December 17, 2018

    This article, published in the New York University Law Review, tackles a question that has vexed the administrative state for the last half century: how to seriously take account of the distributional consequences of regulation. Academic literature has largely accepted the view that distributional concerns should be moved out of the regulatory domain and into Congress’s tax policy portfolio. In doing so, it has overlooked the fact that tax policy is ill suited to provide compensation for significant environmental, health, and safety harms. And the congressional gridlock that has bedeviled us for several decades makes this enterprise even more of a nonstarter. The time has come to make distributional consequences a core concern of the regulatory state – otherwise, future socially beneficial regulations could well encounter significant roadblocks. This article provides the blueprint for the establishment of a standing, broadly constituted interagency body charged with addressing serious negative consequences of regulatory measures on particular groups.

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  • News

    Roundup of Trump-Era Deregulation in the Courts

    December 10, 2018

    The Trump administration has undertaken numerous deregulatory actions through rule suspensions; repeals; rescissions; efforts to weaken regulations through guidance, memoranda, amendments, or replacements; and more. Many of these actions have been challenged in court and decisions have been reached in several cases.

    The Institute for Policy Integrity maintains a publicly available list of those decisions. This “Roundup,” which we update regularly, has been cited by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Brookings Institution.

    The Roundup provides an overview of each court decision, with relevant links to the government actions and court rulings. It also tallies the successful and unsuccessful outcomes for the administration for ease of reference. Updates should be submitted to bethany.davisnoll@nyu.edu.

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