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Rachel Cleetus

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About the author: Rachel Cleetus is an expert on the design and economic evaluation of climate and energy policies, as well as the costs of climate change. She holds a Ph.D. in economics. See Rachel's full bio.

How Virginia Can Meet and Exceed Its Targets under the EPA Power Plant Carbon Standard

On June 2, the EPA issued draft carbon standards for existing power plants. The standard sets state-specific goals for emissions rate reductions that are expected to add up to nationwide power sector emissions reductions of 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. We analyzed Virginia’s target and found that the state is well on track to meet – and can even exceed – its required goal. Read More

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How to Cut Power Plant Carbon by 50%: New EPA Climate Rules Can Create a Foundation for Real Global Warming Solutions

On Monday, June 2, the EPA is expected to release a draft standard to limit carbon emissions from existing fossil-fired (primarily coal and natural gas-fired) power plants. New UCS analysis shows that a strong standard provides an opportunity to cut our power sector emissions in half by 2030, with renewable energy and efficiency playing a significant role in driving the emissions reductions. Those reductions can be achieved cost-effectively and reliably by ramping up renewable energy and energy efficiency, with the overall benefits of a transition to cleaner energy far outweighing the costs. Read More

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Five Things You Should Know about the EPA Power Plant Carbon Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to release draft carbon standards for existing coal and natural gas power plants on June 2. Here are five things you should know about why they could be a climate game changer if they are strong: Read More

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The National Climate Assessment and Opportunities to Cut U.S. Emissions

Today the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the third National Climate Assessment. While the report serves as a sobering stock-taking of how climate change is already affecting our lives and raising future risks, it is also an opportunity to point out that we still have choices in how we respond. Read More

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Supreme Court Decision in Favor of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule Is a Major Win for Public Health

Today’s Supreme Court ruling reinstating limits on sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from coal-fired power plants, as required by the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), is a significant victory for our public health. Read More

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How the EPA Can Set a Strong, Flexible Power Plant Carbon Standard

A draft of the EPA’s carbon standards for existing power plants is due on June 1, 2014. There’s been a general call for flexibility in the design of these standards, which the EPA has committed to. Great River Energy Cooperative, Minnesota’s second-largest electric power supplier, recently proposed a regional carbon cap accompanied by a fee as one possible way to meet the upcoming standards. It’s a positive step, showing leadership and highlighting the importance of diverse regional approaches for getting significant, cost-effective reductions in carbon emissions. Read More

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The Social Cost of Carbon: Counting the Costs of Climate Change and the Benefits of Cutting Carbon Pollution

Last November the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) solicited comments on the administration’s social cost of carbon (SCC) calculations. Today, as the extended comment period closes, the Union of Concerned Scientists filed joint comments with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Institute for Policy Integrity (Policy Integrity), and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in support of the SCC. The current SCC value is an important start for measuring the benefits of cutting carbon pollution. At $37 per metric ton of CO2 in 2015 (2007 dollars, using a 3% discount rate), it is also almost certainly an underestimate of the costs of climate change and can be improved in the future. Read More

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Grimm-Cassidy Bill Seeks to Gut Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reforms

In an extraordinary turnabout, House members seem set to abandon bedrock principles of fiscal conservatism by voting on a bill to undermine the Biggert-Waters flood insurance reforms. Those reforms would have put the highly-indebted National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in a more solvent position, benefiting taxpayers who have been footing the growing bill for costs of flooding. They would have also helped shine a light on the growing risks and costs of development along parts of our coasts threatened by sea level rise, storm surge, and flooding. Read More

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The Biggert-Waters Act: Fix It, Don’t Abandon It

As I mentioned in a previous blogpost, the Senate is gearing up to vote on delaying the reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) mandated by the Biggert-Waters Act. With rising sea levels increasing the risk of coastal flooding and the NFIP’s debt mounting (over $24 billion currently), it’s time for senators to find a sensible middle ground that protects both local communities and taxpayers. Read More

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How to Fix Flood Insurance: Delaying the Biggert-Waters Act is Not the Answer

The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which passed with broad bipartisan support in July 2012, requires the taxpayer-backed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to set premiums that reflect true flood risk and will help put the program on a more financially secure footing. Now many of the same senators who voted to support these necessary and overdue reforms are set to gut them. Biggert-Waters is flawed but it can and should be fixed, not overturned or substantially delayed. Read More

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