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Publications

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  • 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.

  • Opportunities for Valuing Climate Impacts in U.S. State Electricity Policy
    Report

    Opportunities for Valuing Climate Impacts in U.S. State Electricity Policy

    By Denise A. Grab, Iliana Paul, and Kate Fritz
    April 2, 2019

    With an absence of federal leadership on climate change, many states have worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their own, often by incorporating a broader range of considerations into electricity policy. Our report assesses the potential to expand the valuation of climate damages in state electricity policy using Social Cost of Carbon metrics. We examine existing statutes and regulations in all 50 states to identify opportunities for valuing climate impacts around the country.

  • 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.

  • No Turning Back
    Report

    No Turning Back

    An Analysis of EPA’s Authority to Withdraw California’s Preemption Waiver Under Section 209 of the Clean Air Act

    By Denise A. Grab, Jayni Hein, Jack Lienke, Richard L. Revesz
    October 26, 2018

    For 50 years, California has enjoyed unique authority to regulate air pollution from newly manufactured motor vehicles. While the Clean Air Act preempts all other states from setting their own vehicle emission standards, California can request a waiver to do so if it determines that its standards are at least as protective of public health and welfare as federal standards issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). Once a waiver is granted, other states can adopt California’s more stringent vehicle emissions standards as their own. EPA has now proposed to withdraw the waiver California received in 2013 to set its own greenhouse gas emission standards. Because a waiver withdrawal would be entirely unprecedented, neither courts nor legal scholars have previously had cause to discuss the circumstances, if any, under which a waiver might permissibly be withdrawn. This report analyzes whether EPA possesses revocation authority and, assuming it exists at all, when and how such authority may be exercised. It is an update to the August 2018 version of the same report.

  • Toward Resilience
    Report

    Toward Resilience

    Defining, Measuring, and Monetizing Resilience in the Electricity System

    By Burcin Unel and Avi Zevin
    August 1, 2018

    Grid resilience—generally, the electric grid’s ability to resist/absorb, manage, quickly respond, and recover from/adapt to high-impact, low-probability external shocks—has been a concern for electric utilities and energy planners for decades. While recent extreme weather and cyber security concerns have prompted the federal government to pursue policies that support coal and nuclear power plants, a more systematic focus on resilience will lead to very different solutions than what has been proposed by the Department of Energy. Our report aims to assist policymakers in understanding grid resilience and evaluating potential interventions aimed at improving grid resilience.