Options for Applying a Metric in Flux
Many states and other jurisdictions are grappling with how to value greenhouse gas emission reductions and trying to understand the rapidly developing climate economics and science involved in this task. Frequently, state governments and other jurisdictions value greenhouse gas emissions in policymaking using a tool known as the social cost of carbon.
While applying the social cost of carbon is conceptually simple, the appropriate value to place on the metric is in flux. In late 2022, the federal government released new, updated values of the social cost of carbon in draft form which, for now, remain unfinalized. So what estimates of the social cost of carbon should states and other entities use during this transition period? This policy brief explores the available options.
A Tool Federal Agencies Can Use to Address Legal Uncertainty
Several recent developments in administrative law—namely the Supreme Court’s embrace of the major questions doctrine and decision to hear a case asking it to overrule or clarify Chevron deference—have left federal agencies uncertain about how regulations will fare in litigation. Agencies adapting to this uncertainty may want to pay closer attention to recent case law on administrative severability, which allows a court to sever the invalid portion of a rule while leaving the rest intact.
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.
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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