On Proposed Regulations for Arctic Offshore Oil Drilling

This entry previously appeared as a comment on the National Journal’s Energy Insiders forum “Can Arctic Drilling Be Done Safely?”. On August 15, the Obama administration took a long awaited step forward in the development of safety standards for Arctic offshore drilling operations. The submission of proposed regulations by the Department of the Interior (DOI) […]

The Federal Multiagency Collaboration on Unconventional Oil and Gas Research Strategy: What Have We Learned?

The Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency recently released the long-awaited research strategy on unconventional oil and gas research. Its mandate was to produce timely, policy-relevant research questions that support sound policy decisions and prudent oil and gas development. It also was to “analyze and synthesize the state of […]

Should Coastal Communities Consider Transfers of Development Rights?

My colleague, Carolyn Kousky, recently wrote a post about “managed retreat” from the riskiest areas along our nation’s coastline—areas facing sea-level rise, as well as worsening storms and hurricanes. Her recommended three-part strategy includes limiting development in high-risk areas, adopting policies for “orderly” retreat as inundation occurs, and allowing for retreat after a disaster. All […]

Managing Shoreline Retreat in the United States: A Three-Part Strategy

Sea-level rise will increasingly threaten coastal communities. Responses to the issue have generally been grouped into three broad categories: protect, accommodate, and retreat. All three of these strategies will be needed and deployed to varying degrees around the United States. Highly developed areas—think New York City—will require some structural protection. Certain facilities that need to […]

Deep and Shallow Uncertainty in Messaging Climate Change

This post draws on a recent RFF discussion paper by RFF Senior Fellow Roger Cooke, where he explores these topics in greater detail. Cooke is the Chauncey Starr Chair in Risk Analysis at RFF and lead author for Risk and Uncertainty in the recently released IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Present State of the Uncertainty Narrative In […]

Flood Insurance Claims: A Fat Tail Getting Fatter

Floods remain some of the worst disasters around the world. They cause more property damage and insured losses than many other types of events. In the US, floods are primarily insured through the federally-run National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This program has been making the headlines recently as Congress tries to address the program’s massive […]

Identifying “Known Unknowns” in the Natural Gas Revolution

Last week, my colleagues and I released a new RFF report, The Natural Gas Revolution: Critical Questions for a Sustainable Energy Future. At one point, I began referring to this document as the “Known Unknowns” report, in reference to a widely quoted Donald Rumsfeld speech. As the former secretary of defense noted, there are certain […]

Gauging the Distributional Consequences of Public Policies

Although we know that public policies have different effects across a population, examination of the distributional effects has been largely neglected. Instead, the principal criteria now used in public policy assessments are measurements of net benefits, which estimate the sum of a policy’s benefits minus its costs, and benefit–cost ratios. But using these criteria can […]

Space Launch Risk Redux

Indemnification, the nation’s approach to managing some of the risks associated with the launch of privately owned rockets carrying our satellites for telecommunications, Earth observations, supplies for the International Space Station, and other services, is on its way to becoming a new annual rite of winter.  Specifically, the federal government (taxpayer) indemnifies a portion of […]

The Sandy Supplemental by the Numbers

The amount of federal spending on disaster aid has been growing over time. Hurricane Sandy resulted in an enormous level of supplemental appropriations. For perspective, we compared the Sandy supplemental appropriation, more than $50 billion, with the 2012 federal outlays by agency, excluding entitlement programs, military spending, and debt payments, as shown in Figure 1. […]