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
May 6th, 2014
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
October 11th, 2013
Members of the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee heard testimony this week on two bills that would roll back Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. Backed by fossil-fuel funded special interest groups and their political allies, these proposals would undermine Ohio’s emerging clean energy industries and make the state even more dependent on coal and natural gas. Read More
September 18th, 2013
The President’s Climate Plan announced in June touts natural gas as an important climate solution, as I discussed in a recent blog. This week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking the first step in implementing one of the key components of his plan by re-issuing carbon standards for new power plants. The next and more important step in this process is for the EPA to issue draft carbon standards for existing power plants by June 2014. (For more details, see this blog by my colleague Rachel Cleetus).
While standards for existing plants will help reduce power sector carbon emissions, they could lead to an overreliance on natural gas if they are not designed in the right way. In addition, the U.S. will need to make much deeper cuts in emissions to limit some of the worst impacts of climate change, as I discussed in my blog in July. A new UCS report released today shows that a transition from a coal- to a natural gas-dominated electricity system would not be sufficient to meet U.S. climate goals. Instead, a diversified electricity system—with amplified roles for renewable energy and energy efficiency and a modest role for natural gas—would both limit the threat of climate change and mitigate the risks of an overdependence on natural gas. Read More