FERC Environmental Justice Roundtable Comments
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency responsible for regulating interstate energy infrastructure and markets, is seeking to better incorporate environmental justice into its decision-making. On March 29th, 2023, FERC held its first-ever Environmental Justice Roundtable where Policy Integrity’s Environmental Justice Director, Al Huang, testified and provided suggestions on how the Commission can identify, avoid, and minimize adverse impacts on environmental justice communities. We submitted additional comments to FERC on these issues, as well as on FERC's legal authority to incorporate environmental justice into its permitting decisions.
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.
Policy Integrity to Assist with New EPA Environmental Justice Program
As part of a coalition led by WE ACT for Environmental Justice, the Policy Integrity will help support a newly formed Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center.
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.
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.
Advancing Energy Justice Conference Brief
Tools for Justice40 and Equitable Deep Decarbonization
This brief summarizes some of the major points of discussion from our May 2022 conference, “Advancing Energy Justice: Tools for Justice40 and Equitable Deep Decarbonization.” The event brought together federal agency staff working to implement Justice40 with researchers to discuss how academic research can be more responsive to communities’ needs. This brief summarizes the varied views expressed by conference participants and is not intended to be a consensus or recommendation document.
Comments to Treasury and IRS on IRA Implementation
Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued a series of Requests for Information seeking comments and suggestions on implementing the tax benefits contained in the historic climate law. Building on Policy Integrity's deep expertise in incorporating equity into the rulemaking process, we submitted general comments advising Treasury and IRS to:
- coordinate with other federal agencies with experience incorporating environmental justice and equity into their rulemaking process; and
- conduct robust stakeholder outreach throughout the guidance and rulemaking process, especially in disadvantaged communities.
In addition, Policy Integrity included specific recommendations with respect to the calculation of carbon intensity for hydrogen production based on recent comments to the Department of Energy.
Comments to CEQ on the Environmental Justice Scorecard
Policy Integrity submitted comments on White House Council on Environmental Quality's Environmental Justice Scorecard on behalf of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA) and Coming Clean. EJHA and Coming Clean are made up of grassroots environmental justice groups, health organizations, environmental groups, community and neighborhood organizations and many more constituencies united in working towards a healthy, just and equitable present and future. The comments were also signed on to by over 20 grassroots organizations from around the country.
Comments to EPA on Risk Management Program Revisions
The Institute for Policy Integrity submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding its proposed revisions to the Risk Management Program (RMP), under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act. EPA’s new proposal will better protect communities from chemical accidents that release toxic air pollution. Policy Integrity recommended that EPA further strengthen its regulatory impact analysis, including its consideration of unquantified benefits and the distribution of benefits and costs between fenceline communities and facilities. In particular, EPA should strengthen its breakeven analysis by better considering how risk mitigation measures decrease the magnitude of accidents and avoid the most-costly accidents or catastrophes. EPA should also clarify its new language concerning climate-related hazards and provide complementary guidance to ensure robust consideration of climate-related hazards by RMP facilities.
Comments to DOE on Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Program
We submitted comments urging DOE to clarify how it will distribute Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) project funding and to enhance program transparency. We encourage DOE to more specifically detail how it will evaluate applications and to offer a more precise definition of what "community benefits" it hopes to achieve. We also suggest that DOE require project applicants to submit cost-benefit analyses so that the agency can better compare projects when making funding decisions.
Viewing recent projects in Environmental Justice and Equity