Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In Case You Missed It - Weeks of September 23rd-October 6

* On October 1, President Obama proclaimed October 2012 to be National Energy Action Month.

* At the first presidential debate on October 3, the questions did not focus on the environment, but Romney attacked Obama's funding of renewable energy projects.  Coal stocks rose following the debate.

* Total SA Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie told the Financial Times that "companies should not drill for crude oil in Arctic waters because the environmental risks are too high."

* Eight environmental groups and thirty-three manufacturer's added their support to Michigan's Proposal 3 ballot measure, which would require Michigan utilities to produce 25% of their energy from renewables by 2025.

* Barry Commoner, a scientist and pioneer of the environmental movement whose studies of strontium-90 in children's teeth helped lead to a 1963 partial ban of above-ground nuclear testing, died on October 2 at age 95.

* Robert “Bob” Ragland, who founded Jacksonville's Sierra Club Chapter, landscaped and maintained several Avondale parks, and worked to raise awareness about invasive plants died on September 27 at age 92.

* The Nest, a company co-founded by ipod designer Tony Fadell, announced an upgraded version of its learning thermostat.


October 9, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Setting the Record Straight on the Acid Rain Program

A lot has been written about the Acid Rain Program (ARP), but much more of it has been to claim that it (and by inference, cap-and-trade regulation) was a huge success, and much less of it has focused on its weaknesses or failures.  Here are two points of weakness that haven’t gotten the attention they deserve:

1) Legal Controversy. EPA’s efforts over the last several years to segue the ARP into a program that can effectively address current air pollution reduction goals have spawned a huge legal mess. First in 2008, the DC Circuit rejected the Bush EPA’s Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which would have imposed somewhat stricter caps on power plant emissions than the outdated, overly generous ARP caps.  The DC Circuit essentially held that the caps imposed on states were not sufficiently related to the authorizing statutory provision, namely the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act (Section 110) (North Carolina v. EPA).  EPA went back to work, and the Obama EPA promulgated the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in 2011, another cap-and-trade program for power plants with stricter caps.  In August, the DC Circuit rejected that one too, disapproving of how the EPA had distributed the burden of making emissions reduction to states (EME Homer City Generation v. EPA).  Last week, the EPA petitioned the DC Circuit for en banc review. 

2) The Real Explanation for SO2 Reductions. Empirical studies have now shown that economic factors rather than the ARP were primarily responsible for the fuel-switching from high-sulfur coal to low-sulfur coal that is known to have been responsible most of the SO2 emissions reductions of the late 1990s.  My favorite source on this point is Gerking & Hamilton, What Explains the Increased Utilization of Powder River Basin [PRB] Coal in Electric Power Generation?  Amer. J. Agr. Econ 90(4) (November 2008): 933-950.  The authors show that between 1985 and 2000, the average real price of low-sulfur PRB coal delivered to midwestern power plants fell from $13.97/ton to $5.38/ton. They conclude that “much of the increased utilization of PRB low-sulfur coal was due to the operation of market forces rather than to changes in environmental policy” (949). In light of how much credit the ARP has received for those emissions reduction, this is a finding that deserves much more attention than it has received. 

What does all of this say about cap and trade as a regulatory approach?  First, it undermines the sometimes-heard claim that cap-and-trade regulation is somehow less susceptible to being embroiled in legal controversy than direct regulation. Also, EPA’s successive failures in court make it hard to imagine that the EPA would try to implement a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases without direct statutory authorization.  Even more importantly, it should make us question the claim that the ARP demonstrates that cap-and-trade systems can achieve significant emissions reductions.  The ARP wasn’t primarily responsible for those significant emissions reductions, so it doesn't prove that point. 

- Lesley McAllister

October 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Univ. of Colorado Getches-Wilkinson Center Executive Director

The University of Colorado law school is renaming its natural resources law center in honor of David Getches and Charles Wilkinson.  The center will now be known as the "Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment."  Concurrent with this name change, the Center is also conducting a search for an Executive Director.  

According to a post from Mark Holland, the Getches-Wilkinson Center will endeavor to "serve the people of the American West, the nation, and the world through creative, interdisciplinary research, bold, inclusive teaching and innovative problem solving in order to further true sustainability for our use of the lands, waters, and environment.  Major programs and initiatives focus on natural resources, water and public lands issues in Colorado and the West; energy and environmental security in the developing world; electricity regulation and energy policy; climate change law and policy; and native communities and environmental justice."

The Executive Director will have a number of responsibilities.  These include leading "the Center's fundraising and external relations efforts, oversee the day-to-day programmatic and administrative functions of the Center, serve as the primary point of contact for internal relations with other law school and University units, provide support for the Center's academic and research programs, and, if appropriate, develop his/her own research program and/or teaching."

For more information on this position, please visit  www.jobsatcu.com/applicants/Central?quickFind=69725.

-Lincoln Davies

October 8, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Workshop - Community Energy Planning: Capturing Benefits from Microgrids & District Energy Systems

The Pace Energy & Climate Center, the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, and the Univ. of Connecticut Center for Energy & Environmental Law are co-sponsoring a community workshop on "Community Energy Planning."  It will be held on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut.  Here are the details: 

What does energy distribution of the future look like?  How might weshare the costs and benefits of energy production--among neighbors, within large-scale institutions, or even virtually?  The Pace Energy & Climate Center has taken the lead in planning an all-day community workshop dealing with these issues, and CEEL is happy to serve as a local cosponsor.  In the morning, DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty and others will be introducing a vision for community energy in this state, regionally, and nationally.  The afternoon panels will focus on municipal issues, project considerations (grid planning, regulation, and finance), and advancing community energy projects.  Panelists include local officials, business leaders, state policymakers, and academics.  Attendance is complimentary with advanced RSVP to Kayleigh Hough at khough@law.pace.edu.

-Lincoln Davies

October 7, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Denver Renewable Energy Law and Policy Summit

The University of Denver is hosting a Renewable Energy Law and Policy Summit on Friday, October 19.  It looks to be a very interesting event.  Here is the confirmed agenda:

     7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. - Registration and Breakfast

     8:30 a.m.-8:45 a.m. - Welcome from Dean Martin Katz, Sturm College of Law

     8:45 a.m.-9:45 a.m. - Morning Keynote Address: Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter

     9:45 a.m.-10:00 a.m. - Break

     10:00 a.m.-11:15 a.m. - Renewable Energy and the U.S. Military
         Robert Henke, ICF International
         Park Haney, U.S. Army Regional Environmental and Energy Office
         Bobi Garrett, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

     11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - The Role that Media Plays in Influencing Renewable Energy Policy
         Deserai Anderson Crow, University of Colorado-Boulder, Center for Environmental Journalism
         Ben Markus, Colorado Public Radio
         Mark Jaffe, The Denver Post

     12:30 p.m.- 1:45 p.m. - Luncheon Keynote Address: Dr. Susan Tierney, Analysis Group

     1:45 p.m.-3:00 p.m. - RPS at Age 10: Where Have We Been? Where Are We Going?
         Alice Madden, University of Colorado-Denver, School of Public Affairs
         Bill Holmes, Stoel Rives LLC
         Sakis Asteriadis, SunGen Capital

     3:00 p.m.-3:15 p.m. - Break

     3:15 p.m.-4:30 p.m. - How are Municipalities Driving the Development of Renewable Energy?
         Vicki Mayes, City of Boulder City, Nevada
         Karl Rábago, Rábago Energy LLC (Texas)
         Steve Lins, Glendale Water & Power (California)

     4:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m. - Closing Reception

Registration and more information is available here.

-Lincoln Davies

October 7, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)