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Publications

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  • Look Before You Lease
    Report

    Look Before You Lease

    Reducing Fossil Fuel Dominance on Public Lands by Accounting for Option Value

    By Jayni Hein, Joy Kim, and Sam Smith
    January 7, 2020

    While the Trump administration’s goal of “energy dominance” has increased the public lands available for oil and gas development, no effort has been made to modernize the leasing system, even in the face of climate change. Our report explains how option value—which accounts for the informational value gained by delaying leasing decisions—can and should be factored into the Bureau of Land Management’s land use planning processes. Accounting for option value at multiple stages of the land use planning process would significantly improve BLM’s public lands stewardship, better protect the environment, and regain some of the economic and strategic advantages it has ceded to private developers. The report also describes case studies where BLM’s failure to consider option value has led to costly litigation and missed opportunities.

  • Pipeline Approvals and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
    Report

    Pipeline Approvals and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    By Jayni Hein, Jason Schwartz, and Avi Zevin
    April 9, 2019

    In light of growing public awareness of the environmental effects of pipeline projects, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has faced competing pressures regarding how to balance the need for new natural gas pipelines with their environmental consequences. Concerns about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and resulting climate change effects have become a flashpoint in the debate. Our report examines the legal context surrounding FERC’s evaluation of the environmental impacts of proposed interstate natural gas pipelines. We look at FERC’s obligations under the Natural Gas Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as potential improvements the agency can make to its analyses to better inform policy makers and the public about the impacts of proposed projects.

  • Deregulation Run Amok
    Report

    Deregulation Run Amok

    Trump-Era Regulatory Suspensions and the Rule of Law

    By Bethany A. Davis Noll and Alec Dawson
    November 13, 2018

    Our report provides a survey of the legality of Trump Administration’s regulatory suspensions. Looking at a number of cases, we discuss the administration’s disregard for notice-and-comment requirements, statutory restrictions, and the reasoned explanation requirement. We also lay out some of the challenges facing advocates, and the strategies by which agencies have evaded review.

  • 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.