The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, designed to begin to address the consequences of climate change. The agency has proposed a flexible framework that allows states to decide for themselves how to meet the emissions reductions targets. For many states, the required emissions reductions are actually quite modest, and at UCS we see an opportunity for states to be more ambitious in developing renewable energy in particular. Here I explore what the carbon standard means for Pennsylvania. Read More
July 28th, 2014
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
May 6th, 2014
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
April 1st, 2014
On Friday, the Obama Administration released a multi-sector strategy to cut methane emissions from agriculture, landfills, coal mines, and oil and gas production. This is an important step to reduce the climate risks of natural gas — as long as we get the details right — and to create a more level playing field for cleaner, less risky options like renewable energy and energy efficiency. Read More
February 3rd, 2014
In last week’s State of the Union (SOTU) address, President Obama reiterated his support for climate science by unequivocally stating “The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.” He also should be commended for highlighting the urgency of the problem as local communities are already experiencing damaging and costly climate impacts like drought, wildfires, heat waves, and coastal flooding.
But the President’s enthusiasm for increasing natural gas production and use as an important climate solution missed the mark. And like his climate action plan speech at Georgetown University last June, the President highlighted the economic benefits of increasing U.S. natural gas production, while failing to mention the economic risks of an overreliance on natural gas. Read More
January 14th, 2014
The use of coal to produce electricity in the United States has been declining in recent years. Yet for most states still heavily dependent on coal-fired power, the cost of importing coal continues to be a drain on local economies. According to a new Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analysis, 37 states were net importers of coal in 2012, paying a total of $19.4 billion to import 433 million tons of coal from other states and even some foreign countries. Instead of sending billions of ratepayer dollars out of those states year after year, consumers would be better served by investing more in local renewable energy development and energy efficiency measures. Read More
January 10th, 2014
Today, residents of nine West Virginia counties—including my parents—are without water because of a spill from a chemical storage container near a water treatment plant on the Elk River in Charleston. The spill affected some 200,000 people, who were advised to avoid using their tap water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, even bathing. Read More
January 9th, 2014
December 11th, 2013
Part three of a three-part blog series.
Last week some colleagues and I published an article in the Electricity Journal showing that almost 60 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired generators could be candidates for closure based on their poor economic profile relative to competing cleaner options like natural gas and wind. We also found that a modest carbon price of $20/ton of CO2 would more than double that figure to nearly 138 GW, reducing CO2 emissions by up to 745.7 million tons. You can read more about our analysis here and in blog posts by my colleagues Jeff Deyette and Steve Clemmer. Read More
December 10th, 2013
Part two of a three-part blog series.
Yesterday, we released an update of our 2012 Ripe for Retirement study that was published in the Electricity Journal, which analyzed the economic viability of updating the nation’s coal fleet compared to investing in cleaner alternatives. (For more details on the study, see this blog by my colleague Jeff Deyette.) Thanks to new technology developments that have lowered the costs of new wind projects and increased electricity production, our new analysis shows wind power could play an even greater role than natural gas in replacing existing coal plants. Read More