Climate 411

An Opportunity to Strengthen Climate Risk Management in the Derivatives Market

(This post was co-authored by EDF Climate Risk Attorney Elle Stephens)

Disasters that are fueled by climate change, like fires, floods, and hurricanes, increasingly pose risks to the U.S. financial system, including the derivatives market.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulates the derivatives market and is now considering updates to its risk management regulations. These updates are an important opportunity to ensure that market participants properly manage climate-related financial risks.

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Also posted in News, Policy / Comments are closed

New tool equips community voices to spur a just energy transition

Community Voices in Energy logo(This post originally appeared on EDF’s Energy Exchange)

Our new website, Community Voices in Energy — a collaboration with Chicago-based Blacks in Green — equips frontline communities to participate as experts in climate and energy proceedings and influence energy investments. By ensuring that community members are able to share their direct experience on the record in public utility commission hearings, the site helps utility regulators to make rulings that lead to a more equitable, healthy and affordable energy future.

Health and economy at stake

Communities located near polluting power plants experience more health problems, including high rates of asthma and lung disease. They also have less wealth, in part because of lower property values and unaffordable energy rates. Yet frontline, BIPOC and low-income communities have historically been excluded from energy regulatory and legal decision-making spaces that directly impact their quality of life.

Energy is among the largest sources of man-made climate pollution in the world, and energy solutions that benefit communities will also be healthier for the climate. A just transition requires equitable distribution of the benefits of clean energy to communities that have been left behind in the past.

A solution emerges in Illinois

In Illinois, regulators this year alone are considering $1.8 billion in rate hike requests from utilities, much of which will repair and extend systems that would lock in fossil-powered energy for generations to come. But cleaner, more affordable, solutions are available.

Environmental Defense Fund, Blacks in Green, and Citizens Utility Board pioneered the idea of bringing community experts into energy proceedings to provide testimony that could be entered into the legal record on which all commission decisions must be based. In a 2022 decision, the Illinois Commerce Commission explicitly acknowledged that EDF and partners raised its awareness that environmental justice communities experienced longer and more frequent power outages than wealthier Chicago communities, while also having fewer resources to recover from disruptions. As a result, the Commission required the utility to address system disparities, rather than only measuring their system as a whole.

Family staring at wind turbines with a sunset

Community Voices in Energy website drives energy justice

Our Illinois win encouraged us to expand our work and develop the Community Voices in Energy website, so that our community-centered approach can be replicated and spread around the country. Community expert contributors helped to shape the trainings offered on the website to enable meaningful participation in cases, and we developed the Energy Justice Intervenor certification program to support them.

With tools to frame what a just energy system is and how to get involved, the Community Voices in Energy website equips community members to advocate for a more just and equitable system. Including lived experiences at the forefront of big energy decisions will speed the transition to an equitable, affordable, clean, and healthy energy future for everyone.

Since our launch, we have already heard from federal energy regulators and from other states where energy proceedings threaten to lock in high rates and fossil energy at a moment where we must urgently transition to a clean energy. The new Community Voices in Energy website, and the movement it supports, give hope for our energy future.

Also posted in Cities and states, Economics, Energy, Health, News / Comments are closed

Clearing the Air: California’s Leadership on Clean Trucks

FedEx Express truck

A FedEx eStar electric truck in Los Angeles. Photo: Mr.choppers

This blog is co-authored by NRDC’s Britt Carmon, Guillermo A. Ortiz, and David Pettit. It originally appeared here.

California has long grappled with the challenge of improving its air quality, which ranks as the worst in the country. Heavy-duty diesel trucks, which are significant contributors to air and climate pollution, make it difficult for the state to achieve nationwide air quality standards.  As such, it should be no surprise that the transportation sector remains the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, not only in California, but nationwide as well. However, the scale of the problem is not insurmountable. California has also been at the forefront of regulating tailpipe and motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and has made steady progress towards cleaner air for decades.

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Also posted in California, Cars and Pollution, Cities and states, Economics, Energy, Green Jobs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Innovation, Jobs, News, Policy / Comments are closed

New report aims to help Massachusetts put the “public” back in public utilities

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office just released a new report that EDF – and I – are proud to have helped create, titled Overly Impacted & Rarely Heard: Incorporating Community Voices into Massachusetts Energy Regulatory Processes.

The report details specific ways to make sure that energy regulatory decision-making processes in Massachusetts are more inclusive and more equitable, and that they align with recent legislation and policy initiatives.

The report is the result of a Stakeholder Working Group convened by the Office of the Attorney General to identify barriers to participation in proceedings at the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) and Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB), and to propose solutions. The DPU oversees investor-owned electric power, natural gas, and water companies in Massachusetts. The EFSB is an independent state board that reviews proposed large energy facilities including power plants, electric transmission lines, intra-state natural gas pipelines, and natural gas storage tanks. These agencies are little known to the public, but their decisions have an outsized impact on residents’ everyday lives.

I represented EDF on the Stakeholder Working Group, which also had representatives from community-based organizations and consumer advocacy organizations with expertise in environmental justice, climate, and environmental issues, and people with experience and expertise in proceedings at the DPU and the EFSB.

After a more than 18-month stakeholder process, our report recommends seven areas where improvements are necessary:

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Also posted in Cities and states, News, Policy / Comments are closed

New Inflation Reduction Act Tracker Launched by the Sabin Center and EDF

This piece was co-authored by EDF Clean Air Legal Fellow Richard Yates and Sabin Center for Climate Change Law Fellow Eleonor Dyan Garcia. It is also posted on the Sabin Center’s website.

The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and Environmental Defense Fund have just launched IRAtracker.org. This free online resource includes a searchable database that catalogues all of the climate change-related provisions in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), as well as a tracker that records actions taken by federal agencies to implement those provisions.

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Also posted in Innovation, News, Policy / Comments are closed

Our New Electric Resilience Toolkit: Resources to Enhance Climate Resilience Planning by Electric Utilities

This post was co-authored by EDF’s Michael Panfil and Romany Webb of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School

Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Initiative on Climate Risk and Resilience Law have released a new Electric Resilience Toolkit to support policymakers and other people who are working on issues around electric sector regulation and climate resilience planning.

That planning is essential to ensure electricity infrastructure is designed and operated in a way that accounts for the impacts of climate change — impacts that are already being felt and which will only intensify in coming years.

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Also posted in Energy, News / Comments are closed