By Carol Andress, Director of Legislative Operations, Climate & Air
With legislation flying fast and furious through the Capitol – much of it using new or unusual legal mechanisms – lawmakers today must be doubly mindful of unintended consequences. Case in point: Actions rushed through the House and Senate under an obscure law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA), the details of which can cause deeper, more lasting impact than the simple name implies.
The CRA dates to the 1990s. It says that any rule finalized by a federal agency can be subject to an expedited congressional repeal for 60 legislative days after the agency sends up a copy of the final rule and a report detailing the reasons for its promulgation. Within that window, either chamber can introduce a joint resolution of disapproval – which, if passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, effectively voids the rule.
The law sounds simple enough. But it leaves a lot of room for error or mischief. Read More
By Tom Murray, vice president, Corporate Partnerships Program
More than 530 companies and 100 investors signed the Low Carbon USA letter to President-elect Trump and other U.S. and global leaders to support policies to curb climate change, invest in the low carbon economy, and continue U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement. It’s a powerful message from business leaders connecting the dots between prosperity and a low-carbon economy and confirming their commitment to continue to lead the way.
The private sector call for continued leadership on climate cannot be ignored.
“All parts of society have a role to play in tackling climate change, but policy and business leadership is crucial,” said Lars Petersson, president of IKEA U.S. “The Paris Agreement was a bold step towards a cleaner, brighter future, and must be protected. IKEA will continue to work together with other businesses and policymakers to build a low-carbon economy, because we know that together, we can build a better future.” Read More
By Jonathan Camuzeaux, manager, Economics & Policy Analysis
Risky Business Report Finds Transitioning to a Clean Energy Economy is both Technologically and Economically Feasible
In the first Risky Business report, a bi-partisan group of experts focused on the economic impacts of climate change at the country, state and regional levels and made the case that in spite of all that we do understand about the science and dangers of climate change, the uncertainty of what we don’t know could present an even more devastating future for the planet and our economy.
The latest report from the Risky Business Project, co-chaired by Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., and Thomas F. Steyer, examines how best to tackle the risks posed by climate change and transition to a clean energy economy by 2050, without relying on unprecedented spending or unimagined technology. The report focuses on one pathway that will allow us to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 through the following three shifts:
1. Electrify the economy, replacing the dependence on fossil fuels in the heating and cooling of buildings, vehicles and other sectors. Under the report’s scenario, this would require the share of electricity as a portion of total energy use to more than double, from 23 to 51 percent.
2. Use a mix of low- to zero-carbon fuels to generate electricity. Declining costs for renewable technologies contribute in making this both technologically and economically feasible.
3. Become more energy efficient by lowering the intensity of energy used per unit of GDP by about two thirds. Read More
The Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island. Photo courtesy of Deepwater Wind.
By Pam Kiely, senior director, Regulatory Strategy, and co-authored by Charlie Jiang, EDF associate
2016 was a big year for progress in the U.S. power sector. Renewable energy sources provided 16.9 percent of the country’s electricity in the first half of 2016, up from 13.7 percent for all of 2015. The country’s first offshore wind farm opened off the coast of Rhode Island. Most importantly, carbon emissions from the power sector are projected to continue to decline and hit levels not seen since 1992.
Strong leadership by forward-thinking governors, policymakers, and power company executives who recognize the imperative of lower-carbon generation and the promise of clean energy, powerful market forces intensifying the push to lower-carbon resources, and the critical federal regulatory overlay of the Clean Power Plan — which has made clear that unlimited carbon pollution is a thing of the past — have all combined to deepen a trend towards cleaner electricity production at this dynamic moment in time.
Even with any possible political maneuverings in Washington, D.C. to reverse clean energy and climate progress, it is clear that the transition to a low-carbon future is well under way. Read More
By Jeremy Proville, senior manager, GIS & Economics
We learned last month that scientists are rushing to save critical climate data on government websites before the Trump administration takes over. They fear that such data may be deleted and forever lost, and it’s not hard to see why.
The incoming administration has announced plans to roll back existing climate change initiatives and there have been proposals to cut research programs that support a broad range of scientific expertise, such as weather prediction critical to farmers and to states vulnerable to major disasters.
In addition to science-based climate data, however, there is concern that other critical information and analyses under the purview of agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy may be imperiled early next year. Unbeknownst to many – including, perhaps, to the president-elect and his circle of insiders – all these datasets benefit a broad range of sectors that rely on solid economic forecasting.
Here are just two datasets that are absolutely central to the work economists and analysts do to help industry and other decision-makers interpret energy opportunities and challenges in a rapidly changing world. Read More
By Joe Rudek and Jason Mathers
Many commercial fleet operators have considered switching their fleet vehicles from diesel to natural gas to take advantage of the growing abundance of natural gas and reduced emissions. Natural gas trucks have the potential to reduce nitrogen oxides emissions (NOx) from freight trucks and buses.
Yet, adopting the emission reduction technologies and practices needed to curb the methane escaping during the production, transport and delivery of natural gas is critical to unlock the full environmental potential of these vehicles. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas released to the atmosphere at every step from production wells to the vehicle fuel tanks. Even small amounts of methane emitted across the natural gas supply chain can undermine the climate benefit of fuel-switching vehicles to natural gas for some period of time, as EDF research has shown. Read More