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.
In recent years, numerous federal agencies have made a controversial claim: that projects locking in fossil fuels over the long term will decrease aggregate greenhouse gas emissions, or that their effects on total emissions will be limited. In many of those cases, however, agencies have reached this counter-intuitive conclusion using a flawed consideration of energy substitution. This report identifies some of the recurring problems with agency analysis of energy substitution and offers best practices to apply moving forward.
New York’s Climate Change Superfund Act and Its Impact on Gasoline Prices
This policy brief analyzes how New York State’s recently proposed Climate Change Superfund Act is most likely to affect consumer gasoline prices. The Act would require payments from fossil-fuel companies based on their historical contributions to current greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. The payments would be used to build green infrastructure to help the state adapt to climate change. The brief finds that the Act would likely have a negligible impact on current and near-term oil prices, while potentially lowering future energy prices in New York, including for transportation.
In its proposed Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program for 2023–2028, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) claims that it cannot consider downstream greenhouse gas emissions when setting leasing policy because of a 2009 D.C. Circuit case, Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of the Interior (CBD). This Policy Brief explains that BOEM misreads CBD, which held only that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) does not require the agency to consider downstream effects. The Policy Brief further explains that neither CBD nor any other case law bars BOEM from considering downstream effects and that consideration of such effects is in fact consistent with the text, legislative history, and regulatory history of OCSLA.
A Review of BOEM’s Economic Analysis for Its Proposed Five-Year Program
In July 2022, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released its proposed Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program for 2023–2028. That plan contemplates holding up to 11 lease sales over the next five years, and conducts an economic analysis concluding that the benefits of those lease sales would exceed the costs. This report provides comprehensive feedback on BOEM’s economic analysis. As the report details, BOEM vastly understates the environmental and social costs of offshore leasing in several key ways.
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