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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.

Power Plant Carbon Standards: The EPA Should Use the Clean Air Act’s Flexibility to Help Reduce Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be reissuing a draft carbon standard for new power plants on or around September 20. These standards, particularly the one for existing power plants which will be issued in draft form in June 2014, could help reduce carbon emissions significantly if EPA uses existing flexibilities in the Clean Air Act to help ensure a transition away from polluting coal plants to clean sources like renewable energy and energy efficiency. Read More

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Rising Seas and Worsening Storms Require Rethinking Flood and Wind Insurance

In a world with rising seas and worsening storms, we’ve got to get smarter about how and where we build along our coasts. A new UCS report released today points out that our government-backed flood and wind insurance programs are encouraging risky coastal development that exposes coastal communities to harm and creates the potential for large damage costs paid for by all taxpayers. Local examples of policies that create risk are unfortunately common too: recently, New Jersey policy makers passed a bill that would allow development on piers in coastal high hazard areas, putting more people and property in harm’s way. Read More

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The Social Cost of Carbon: Setting the Record Straight Ahead of Today’s House Hearing

The Obama administration has recently updated the official U.S. social cost of carbon (SCC), which attempts to estimate the costs of damage from carbon pollution. It’s one important way to show the value of cutting our global warming emissions. We’ll need to keep improving the SCC estimate to ensure it reflects the latest science and economics. We also have to ensure a more transparent process for updating and using this critical number going forward. But today’s House hearing on the SCC is simply a sideshow aimed at undermining climate action, not likely to focus on issues of substance. Read More

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Obama Directs the EPA to “Work Expeditiously” to Complete Standards for New and Existing Power Plants: Now the Details on How the EPA Can Deliver the Goods

Today President Obama will make a major speech outlining his administration’s plans to cut carbon emissions through agency actions. The centerpiece of the speech is expected to be an announcement that the President will direct the EPA to move ahead in setting carbon standards for both new and existing power plants. Today and in the weeks to come we’ll be following closely to hear the details on both timing and substance for these standards. Read More

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We Need a Clear Signal that the Obama Administration Will Issue Power Plant Carbon Standards Soon

More than a year after the EPA issued its draft carbon standards for new power plants, and subsequently received over 3.2 million comments in support of them, it has yet to finalize the standards. Meanwhile last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report saying the U.S. experienced $110 billion in damages from extreme weather in 2012, with Sandy ($65 billion) and the drought ($30 billion) being the two most costly events. We need President Obama to show that his administration is committed to continued, ambitious action to cut carbon emissions, delivering on his Inaugural Address promise. Read More

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New IEA Report Shows (Yet Again!) that We Have the Tools to Cut Global Warming Emissions; Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency are Critical

Today the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a new climate and energy report that highlights the inexorable growth in our heat-trapping emissions and reiterates the urgent need for a rapid ramp-up of renewable energy and energy efficiency resources to help address climate change. Cutting fugitive methane emissions and reducing fossil fuel subsidies are other important recommendations. Read More

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Coastal Communities on the Front Lines of Sea Level Rise and Flooding: Convening a Conversation

Last week, almost six months after Hurricane Sandy came ashore to devastating effect, UCS convened a multi-state roundtable on the growing risks from sea level rise, storm surges, and flooding. Officials from Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia, together with a representative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, came together to talk about what they are doing to help protect their communities from these risks and what future steps may be needed to build resilience. Read More

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Costly Climate Impacts Show Why We Need Power Plant Carbon Standards

Tomorrow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will likely miss a legal deadline for finalizing its draft carbon standard for curtailing carbon emissions from new power plants. Power plants are the single largest stationary source of  U.S. global warming emissions. Cutting those emissions is critical to slowing the magnitude and pace of climate change. Furthermore, an ambitious standard is achievable because we have abundant cleaner forms of energy. So why the delay? Read More

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White House Champions of Change Event Features Community Resilience Leaders

Today’s “Champions of Change” event in Washington can be seen as a kick-off for a desperately-needed national conversation on climate change. It couldn’t have had a more fitting theme: “Preparing for the Costly Impacts of Climate Change – Community Resilience Leaders.” Read More

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Well-Designed Power Plant Carbon Standards Can Reduce Emissions and Increase Renewable Energy

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to soon finalize carbon standards for new power plants, bolstering the existing market trend away from building new coal-fired power plants. Next up is the carbon standard for existing power plants – a major source of U.S. global warming emissions. Designing this standard with the flexibility to include renewable energy and efficiency as compliance options can help achieve deep emissions reductions at an affordable cost. Read More

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