Best of the Above

It looked like a reverse make-me-do-it  – President Obama in his State of the Union address saying don’t-do-that-again to some of his most committed supporters.  An array of groups had written to him just two weeks earlier about the failings of an “all of the above” energy policy, and the first words in his speech […]

RFF/Stanford/USA Today Poll Shows Majority Support for Regulating Power Plant GHG Emissions

The first round of results from the RFF/Stanford/USA Today poll was released today and it shows that a majority of the US favors doing something to address the threat of climate change, although there is substantially less agreement about what exactly to do. There’s a lot to dig into that’s relevant to climate policy options we […]

Unconventional Fuel Production and Water Resources

Crude oil and natural gas production from unconventional reservoirs is experiencing accelerated growth in North America, much of which is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. This shift in the energy industry has been accompanied by rising concerns over its potential impact on water resources. Developing these fuels is thought to require more water […]

Update: EPA NSPS Proposal -Does- Separate Coal and Gas

On Friday, I wrote that EPA’s newly-proposed performance standards for GHG emissions from new power plants (NSPS) mostly preserved the agency’s earlier approach of putting gas- and coal-fired plants in the same “source category”: It’s true that the new proposal would revert to EPA’s past approach of separating steam plants, including natural gas combined cycle plants […]

Small Changes, But an Important Signal in New Power Plant GHG Proposal

Update: I’ve revised my understanding of EPA’s proposal and this post is no longer correct. See the update here. EPA released a major and long-awaited proposed regulation today, but the most important news might be something it didn’t do, and how that affects the next major step in regulating carbon under the Clean Air Act. […]

Good News for Gas from New Fugitive Methane Numbers

Is the shale gas boom good or bad for climate? It largely depends on methane. Methane, the primary constituent of natural gas, is a double-edged sword in climate terms. It burns much cleaner than coal—about half of the CO2 emissions and far less of most other pollutants for the same energy output. But released directly […]

Realistic Expectations for Carbon Policy – A Response

This is a guest post by Brian Potts, a partner at law firm Foley & Lardner, LLP in Madison.  Yesterday I (Nathan) critiqued some arguments he’s made recently regarding prospects for EPA’s future carbon performance standards for power plants. I’m happy to offer Brian space here to respond to that critique. -Ed First, I would […]

Realistic Expectations for EPA Carbon Policy

Brian Potts says EPA existing-source performance standards (ESPS) for power plant carbon emissions won’t matter much since they can’t or won’t be very stringent. This is partly true, if a bit overstated. You’re certainly kidding yourself if you’re counting on ESPS to take care of US climate policy on their own – though I know […]

Technology Flexibility and Stringency for Greenhouse Gas Regulations

The Clean Air Act provides the current regulatory framework for climate policy in the United States. A key component of US policy as called for in President Obama’s recent memorandum to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be the use of flexible approaches in achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. EPA is expected to […]

Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Analysis Deconstructed: Changing Assumptions, Changing Results

EPA regulations on mercury and other air pollutants currently under review are the subject of much debate for their potential costs and impacts on the electricity industry. In a new discussion paper, RFF colleagues and I examine the assumptions behind several studies that have analyzed the potential effects of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, […]