US Benefit-Cost Analysis Requires Revision
Letter in SCIENCE Supporting Proposed Adjustment to Discount Rates in Circular A-4
A critical input in cost-benefit analysis is the discount rate, which determines how much impacts in the future are weighted relative to impacts in the present. Federal guidance currently calls on U.S. agencies to apply discount rates of 3% and 7%. But these rates, particularly the 7% rate, substantially devalue impacts that accrue to future generations, thus putting a thumb on the scale against policies that provide long-term benefits such as environmental and public-health regulation. In April, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposed a comprehensive update to that guidance document, known as Circular A-4. Among other revisions, the draft would update the default discount rate used in federal regulatory analysis to 1.7%. In a letter published in Science, leading global experts on discount rates and cost-benefit analysis support the proposed revision.
The Impact of West Virginia v. EPA on Challenges to FERC’s Authority Under the Major Questions Doctrine
Published in Energy Bar Association Brief
The Supreme Court’s recent applications of the major questions doctrine have prompted numerous challenges to pending or proposed regulatory actions, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) proposed revisions to Order No. 1000’s regional transmission-planning and cost-allocation rules (Transmission Rulemaking) and updated draft policy statements on certification of new interstate natural gas facilities (Draft Policy Statements). This article addresses the impact of West Virginia v. EPA—the most recent Supreme Court case involving the major questions doctrine—on FERC’s regulatory authority.
The Obligation to Serve in Massachusetts
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.
Best Practices for Energy Substitution Analysis
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.
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.
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