A Path to Revitalizing Federal Transmission Authorities
In the absence of legislation, critical long-distance transmission can be developed by applying existing federal legal authorities. A number of important regulatory and commercial measures have been proposed, including streamlining transmission planning, upgrading existing transmission system components, putting transmission lines underground, and using existing rights-of-way from highways and railroads. Even if these solutions are adopted, however, state siting requirements may prove an important obstacle to developing an efficient, national transmission grid. So, this paper examines legal authorities already available to the Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to develop the interstate transmission capacity crucial to the energy transition.
Barriers to Infrastructure Development and Federal Policy Solutions
Most categories of American infrastructure—from transportation and water systems to public school buildings and electricity meters—are in dire need of modernization, and climate change is compounding this challenge. Our report provides policy recommendations at each stage of the infrastructure lifecycle, from project planning and analysis, through financing, construction, and maintenance. We explain how a realigned approach to infrastructure can boost the economy while addressing threats from climate change and prioritizing social equity goals.
Rethinking OIRA for the Next Administration
In recent years, federal leadership has distorted the practice of regulatory analysis and has eroded the integrity of the government’s regulatory review structure as coordinated by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The result has been a torrent of deregulatory actions that have worked against the best interests of the American people and their health, safety, environment, and financial well-being. Our report details the path forward on regulatory review, which is to first surgically excise recent distortions, and then to reaffirm the best principles and practices from the past, while adding key corrections and enhancements. Implementing the reforms recommended in this report will refocus OIRA on helping agencies once again use regulations to maximize net social welfare.
The Department of the Interior has yet to develop a comprehensive plan to accurately account for, manage, and mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions that result from the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels from public lands and waters. This document describes immediate and longer-term actions that Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management should take to reform public lands management consistent with climate change, conservation, and fiscal reform priorities.
Near-Term Steps to Address Climate Change
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should take an active role in better aligning regulatory practices with climate policies, speeding up development of necessary transmission infrastructure, and reforming energy market rules. This report details the specific policy reforms that federal policymakers should pursue to take advantage of important opportunities energy markets can provide to combat climate change while ensuring an economically efficient and speedy clean energy transition.
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