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Publications

The Institute for Policy Integrity produces three types of publications: policy briefs, reports, and academic articles/working papers. Our policy briefs provide incisive and focused analysis on timely policy topics. Our reports develop deeper research on our core issues. Our academic articles and working papers offer original scholarly research and analysis from established experts as well as fresh new voices.

Latest Publications

  • How the Trump Administration Is Obscuring the Costs of Climate Change
    Issue Brief

    How the Trump Administration Is Obscuring the Costs of Climate Change

    March 23, 2018

    When federal and state policymakers account for the impacts of climate change, they regularly use a tool called the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). The SCC puts a dollar value on the most significant, quantifiable damages caused by each additional ton of carbon dioxide emitted. The most recent estimate of the cost is at least $51 per ton and rising over time. But now, turning its back on years of work, the Trump administration has disbanded the federal group that developed the SCC, and produced a new “interim” estimate claiming that each ton of carbon dioxide causes as little as $1 in climate damages. This issue brief describes how the Trump Administration reached this misleading number by ignoring the interconnected, global nature of our climate-vulnerable economy and obscuring the devastating effects that climate change will have on younger and future generations. Though the administration has been proposing rollbacks of environmental rules using this problematic SCC estimate as justification, we explain why federal agencies and state governments should continue using the most recent estimate by the Interagency Working Group that developed the SCC.

  • Valuing Pollution Reductions
    Report

    Valuing Pollution Reductions

    How to Monetize Greenhouse Gas and Local Air Pollutant Reductions from Distributed Energy Resources

    By Jeffrey Shrader, Burcin Unel, and Avi Zevin
    March 23, 2018

    Distributed energy resources (DERs)—grid-connected, small-scale electric generators such as rooftop solar installations, micro-turbines, combined heat and power systems, customer backup generators, and distributed energy storage systems—are a growing part of the U.S. electric system. They can help avoid the high levels of greenhouse gases and local air pollution produced by traditional energy sources. As their use grows, state electric utility regulators are seeking to compensate DERs accurately for the benefits they offer, including reductions in pollution that contributes to climate change and harms human health. This report shows how regulators can calculate the types and amount of pollution avoided, and then monetize these benefits for use in policy.

  • Federal Lands and Fossil Fuels
    Academic Article/Working Paper

    Federal Lands and Fossil Fuels

    Maximizing Social Welfare in Federal Energy Leasing

    By Jayni Hein
    March 23, 2018

    The Department of the Interior is tasked with managing the nation’s mineral resources and must earn a “fair market value” for the use of federal lands and resources. But in recent years, Interior’s coal, oil, and natural gas leasing programs have been criticized for failing to keep pace with developments in modern technology, shortchanging taxpayers, and failing to adequately account for climate change and other environmental effects. This article, published in the Harvard Environmental Law Review, suggests a rational path forward for federal fossil fuel leasing. Just as a private company would seek to maximize net revenue in its operations, Interior should seek to manage its program to provide maximum net benefits to the public, to whom public resources belong. This includes accounting for all of the costs and benefits of leasing—including environmental and social costs—and adjusting the fiscal terms of its fossil fuel leases to recoup unmitigated externality costs.

  • Monumental Decisions
    Academic Article/Working Paper

    Monumental Decisions

    One-Way Levers towards Preservation in the Antiquities Act and Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

    By Jayni Hein
    March 19, 2018

    In new legal scholarship published in Environmental Law, Jayni Hein argues that the powers granted to the President in the Antiquities Act and Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) operate in one direction only: towards preservation. Presidents do not have the authority to rescind or diminish national monument designations, nor to re-open previously withdrawn areas to offshore leasing. Congress, alone, retains this authority over public lands.

  • Managing the Future of the Electricity Grid: Energy Storage and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
    Academic Article/Working Paper

    Managing the Future of the Electricity Grid: Energy Storage and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    By Richard L. Revesz and Burcin Unel
    March 19, 2018

    Recent advances in technology and the consequent decline in manufacturing costs are making energy storage systems a central element of energy and climate change policy debates across the nation. Energy storage systems have the potential to provide many benefits such as lower electricity prices at peak demand times, deferred or avoided new capacity investments, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, both federal and state policymakers are enthusiastically encouraging more energy storage deployment with the belief that energy storage systems will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector by making intermittent and variable renewable energy resources such as solar and wind more attractive. This article, published in the Harvard Environmental Law Review, challenges this common assumption that increased energy storage will necessarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions.