Energy Policy Now

By Kleinman Center for Energy Policy

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Energy Policy Now offers clear talk on the policy issues that define our relationship to energy and its impact on society and the environment. The series is produced by the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania and hosted by energy journalist Andy Stone. Join Andy in conversation with leaders from industry, government, and academia as they shed light on today's pressing energy policy debates.

Episode Date
Grid Forward Debate: Has Electricity Deregulation Led to Better Community Outcomes?

Electricity market deregulation promised to bring more affordable and reliable electricity to consumers. A quarter of a century after deregulation began, has its promise delivered for all Americans?


The process of deregulating electricity markets began a quarter of a century ago, with the aim of leveraging competitive market forces to provide consumers with abundant and reliable electricity more economically than ever before. As experience has shown, however, deregulation has brought both benefits and challenges

In the early years of deregulation, an ill-conceived strategy to introduce competition to California’s electricity market led to market manipulation, high energy prices, and ultimately to utility bankruptcies. Yet over the last decade, deregulation has provided generally better outcomes. Competitive markets have been able to efficiently pass cost savings from the shale gas revolution to consumers, and competition has created a dynamic platform for the entry of new forms of clean and distributed energy.

Yet the question remains. On the whole, has deregulation delivered on its promise to give consumers abundant and reliable electricity more economically than before?

This special episode of Energy Policy Now was recorded live at Grid Forward 2020, an annual event that brings together leading insights from a range of stakeholders to address opportunities for electric grid modernization. Debaters Mark Kolesar and Bruce Edelston square off around the question of whether deregulation has ultimately led to better community outcomes which, in today’s context, means more than just cheap and reliable service, but also equitable access to clean energy options, and the environmental and public health benefits that a cleaner electricity system promises.

Mark Kolesar is Managing Principal at Kolesar Buchanan and Associates, and former Chairman of the Alberta Utilities Commission.

Bruce Edelston is President of the Energy Policy Group and former Vice President for Energy Policy at the Southern Company.

Grid Forward is an industry association defining pathways for electric grid modernization via advanced technology, policy progress and business innovation.

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Oct 27, 2020
U.S. Electricity Regulator Takes a Hard Look at Carbon Pricing

In September the U.S. electricity regulator, the FERC, held its first conference to explore carbon pricing in the nation’s electricity markets. Is a carbon price finally on the way?


In late September the regulator of America’s electricity markets, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, took the unusual step of convening a conference at which it, and members of the electricity industry, considered putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions. The meeting came as wholesale electricity markets, which supply power for two-thirds of Americans, have entered into a period of turmoil that, at the extreme, threatens to break those very markets apart, and which is based in the challenge of addressing climate change.

Mike Borgatti, Vice President for RTO Services and Regulatory Affairs at energy consultancy Gabel Associates, explains the debate over carbon pricing in electricity markets, and the FERC’s recent, contentious efforts to balance conflicting state and national climate agendas.

Mike Borgatti is Vice President for RTO Services and Regulatory Affairs at Gabel Associates, an energy and public utility consultancy. He advises energy industry clients that participate in the nation’s electricity markets, and has been at the forefront of efforts to explore carbon pricing in the world’s largest power market, PJM Interconnection.

Mike Borgatti is Vice President for RTO Services and Regulatory Affairs at Gabel Associates, an energy and public utility consultancy. He advises energy industry clients that participate in the nation’s electricity markets, and has been at the forefront of efforts to explore carbon pricing in the world’s largest power market, PJM Interconnection.

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Oct 13, 2020
Zoning Rules Stifle Urban Clean Energy. Can The Rules Be Rewritten?

Outmoded and often discriminatory zoning laws block clean energy development in low-income urban neighborhoods. An effort is underway to update rules, and enable clean energy equity.


An energy transformation is underway in the United States, with clean energy and energy efficiency reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. Yet the advantages of clean energy aren’t enjoyed equally throughout the country. Clean energy development has lagged in older, densely built urban areas. Low-income neighborhoods, in particular, have seen relatively less investment in renewables, and can find it harder to take advantage of technologies like rooftop solar that can lower electricity bills.

And, while there are many efforts underway to address these equity challenges, for example through community energy programs, fundamental barriers to energy transformation remain.

Sara Bronin, professor of law at the University of Connecticut and former chair of Hartford, Connecticut’s Planning and Zoning Commission, explores the difficulties that outmoded and often discriminatory zoning rules can pose for clean energy development. Zoning rules determine the types of development that can take place in a given neighborhood, and progressive rules can ease the adoption of clean infrastructure. Yet many zoning regulations date back decades, and can prevent the siting of clean technologies in low-income, urban neighborhoods. Bronin discusses the interplay of zoning and energy, and about efforts to reforming zoning regulations.

Sara Bronin Faculty Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Law at the University of Connecticut.

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Sep 29, 2020
As Climate-Related Disasters Intensify, Retreat Emerges as Adaptation Strategy

An environmental lawyer examines the legal and social challenges that could complicate managed retreat from areas at risk to climate-related disaster.
When policymakers talk about adapting to climate change, they often focus on measures to reinforce towns and cities against natural disasters, such as the wildfires and flooding that have become more severe across the United States in recent years. Yet what is often more difficult to contemplate is the idea that some places may inevitably need to be abandoned. This idea of abandonment, or retreat from areas that are at great risk due to climate change, is understandably very difficult to think about. Retreat means leaving behind homes, and the possible disruption of communities and livelihoods.  

Mark Nevitt, associate professor of law at Syracuse University and a former legal counsel with the Department of Defense Regional Environmental Counsel in Norfolk, Virginia, explores how managed retreat ahead of likely disaster is itself a key climate adaptation strategy, and one which may ease, though not eliminate, the burden on impacted communities. Mark discusses his recent Kleinman Center-funded research into legal issues associated with climate adaptation, and how existing laws may present barriers to efforts to manage retreat from high risk areas.

Mark Nevitt is an associate professor of law at Syracuse University. 

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Sep 15, 2020
The Human History of Climate Change

Much attention has been paid to the ways we humans are changing our climate. Yet, how has an ever-evolving climate changed us? 
Climate change is one of the monumental challenges of our day, but the reality of climate change is nothing new. In recent decades, scientific advances have expanded our understanding of prehistory, and brought into ever sharper focus the connection between historic variations in climate and the development of humanity and society.

By taking a look at the history of climate change, we might see more clearly why today’s warming is so different from periods of change that came before, and how climate change can amplify economic and societal pressures that are already in place.

University of Pennsylvania economist Jesus Fernandez Villaverde looks back through time to discuss how climate change may have forced our primate ancestors down the road of evolution, contributed to the fall of empires and, more recently, helped to spur great migrations of people, including those that led to the building of the United States.

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Aug 04, 2020
Questioning the Promise of Carbon Tax Border Adjustments

Most carbon tax proposals include a border adjustment to protect American industry from foreign competition. Yet research suggests that benefits won't extend to consumers.


Most economists agree that the best way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming is by implementing a carbon tax, and making it more expensive to buy products and services with a high carbon content. Yet by putting a price on carbon, countries may drive up costs for domestic businesses, putting them at a competitive disadvantage to foreign competitors from countries where no carbon price exists.

Two experts in climate law and economics look at the most commonly proposed solution to protect American businesses from the competitive impacts of a carbon tax. The solution, known as a border adjustment, would ensure that American and imported goods are subject to the same carbon price.

The tool seems simple enough, and in fact every carbon tax proposal in Congress this year features a border adjustment. Yet research suggests that the economic protections promised by border adjustments may not be as great as commonly assumed.

David Weisbach is a professor of law at the University of Chicago. Sam Kortum is an economics professor at Yale University. Their work has focused on the role of taxation in addressing climate change, and potential competitive implications of a carbon tax.

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Jul 21, 2020
Will Trump’s Regulatory Rollbacks Survive?

President Trump has gone to great lengths to undo the regulatory accomplishments of his predecessor. But the President’s methods could come back to haunt him, dooming his deregulatory energy and environmental agendas.
The Trump Administration has taken aggressive steps to undo the regulatory accomplishments of former president Obama, with some of the highest profile rollbacks taking place in the energy and environmental arenas. In his three years in office, President Trump has repealed the Clean Power Plan, rolled back restrictions on methane leaks and, most recently, repealed limits on automotive tailpipe emissions.
Yet, it’s possible that the same tools that Trump has used to undo the regulatory achievements of his predecessor could be turned against him.
A pair of regulatory experts take a look at President Trump’s unprecedented use of three legal tools to pursue his deregulatory agenda, and at how a new administration could use these same tools to roll back Trump-era rules. They also discuss how the very nature of future presidencies may be altered as the deregulatory gloves have been taken off, limiting the ability of presidents to enact important rules on any front.
Bethany Davis Noll is Litigation Director at the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law. Richard Revesz is Dean Emeritus at NYU School of Law, and directs the Institute for Policy Integrity. 
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Jul 07, 2020
Understanding the Social Cost of Carbon

The social cost of carbon provides an estimate of the economic damage caused by carbon emissions. A climate economist tells how it's calculated.


One of the most hotly debated issues in climate policy is the value of the social cost of carbon, which is an estimate of the damage that will come from releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The social cost of carbon is a useful measure to help us understand the price that should be placed on carbon today to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and minimize the climate-related damages that future generations will face.

Climate economist Gilbert Metcalf explains how the social cost of carbon is calculated, and looks at the factors that economists take into account in arriving at a value. He also discusses why the value of the social cost of carbon is so contentious, and why the cost estimates accepted by the Trump and Obama administrations diverge so widely.

Gilbert Metcalf is a professor of economics at Tufts University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His work focuses on taxation, energy, and environmental economics.

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Jun 23, 2020
How a Green New Deal Could Redraw America's Map

Climate change, and policies to address it, will change where Americans live and work, and produce energy and food. Two environmental designers discuss an atlas of the country’s future.
A year ago, Democratic members of Congress introduced a resolution to address climate change and economic inequality, with a plan that promises to fundamentally alter Americans’ relationship to their natural and built environments. That vision, the Green New Deal, recalls an earlier bold plan of action for the country at a time of crisis.

Nearly 90 years ago the original New Deal created vast public works projects to create jobs during the Great Depression. But its legacy transcends economic recovery. Public works projects realized the goal of universal electrification, built highways to speed future growth, and paved the way for migration to the suburbs and from old industrial centers to new. Along the way, the New Deal fundamentally altered the human map of the United States.

Today’s Green New Deal proposes to do something similar. If it comes to pass, it’s likely to change where many Americans live, and how they make their living.

Guests Alexandra Lillehei and Billy Fleming of the University of Pennsylvania’s Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Design talk about what a future map of America, shaped by climate change and a Green New Deal, might look like.
The two have been instrumental in a new initiative called The 2100 Project: An Atlas for the Green New Deal. Through maps, the project envisions changes in population distribution, energy production and agricultural activity over the course of this century.

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Jun 09, 2020
Why Americans Want a Carbon Tax, But Won’t Support One at the Polls

An economist looks at how economic worries, and political ideology, have made carbon taxes a tough sell.


Economists generally agree that the most efficient way to reduce  carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming is by putting a price on carbon in the form of a carbon tax. Consumers, though, can tend see things differently. The idea of taxing the fuels that run our cars, and power our homes and jobs, has given Americans pause and, as a result, no carbon tax has been levied to date in the United States.

Nevertheless, calls for a carbon tax have become more frequent as concern over climate change has intensified. On Capitol Hill, there are half a dozen carbon fee proposals in circulation, with backing from liberals and conservatives. States have also explored carbon pricing, most notably the state of Washington, where two recent carbon tax ballot initiatives were defeated at the polls.

Ioana Marinescu, an economist at the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the challenge of enacting a carbon tax. She also explores policymakers’ efforts to develop carbon tax legislation to appeal to the broad public, and what might be required for these efforts to ultimately succeed.

Ioana Marinescu is assistant professor of public policy with the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

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May 26, 2020
Developing the Electric Grid for Carbon-Free Energy

More states are targeting 100% clean energy, but is the electric grid ready? An expert in energy policy and economics looks at the policy challenges to creating a robust, carbon-free electricity system.


Across the U.S., a growing number of states have adopted ambitious clean energy goals that will require the bulk of their electricity to come from carbon-free sources by the middle of this century. Yet clean energy will place new demands on the electricity system, which will need to accommodate intermittent wind and solar power, and distributed energy from rooftop solar and electric vehicles. This is a tall order for a grid that was built around large, central power plants fueled by a predictable supply of fossil and nuclear fuel.

Judy Chang, an energy economist and engineer with the Brattle Group, explores the policy challenges to updating the electric grid to economically and reliably deliver clean energy. She looks at the cost of building a more flexible grid, and at the political opportunities, and hurdles to its development.

Judy Chang is an energy economist and engineer with the Brattle Group who has served as an expert witness before energy regulators in the United States and Canada. Her work focuses on renewable energy, transmission networks, and electricity market design.

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May 12, 2020
How Interest Groups Shape U.S. Clean Energy Policy

Political scientist Leah Stokes examines interest groups’ power to shape, and resist, progressive energy policy.
Interest groups play a central role in American politics, and nowhere has their influence been felt more acutely than in the areas of energy and environmental politics. Leah Stokes, assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, discusses the outsized role of special interests in shaping debate around clean energy and in defining policies to address the environmental and climate impacts of our energy system.

In March, Stokes published her first book, Short Circuiting Policy: Interest Groups and the Battle Over Clean Energy and Climate Policy in the United States, the culmination of six years of research into special interest groups. Stokes shares her findings, including and strategies to overcome opposition to progressive energy policies, in conversation.

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Apr 28, 2020
As Residential Solar’s Capabilities Expand, Does New Growth Await?

The residential solar power industry faces the expiration of a key tax break and resistance to net-metering. But the addition of battery storage, and an emerging role in grid services, make solar a valuable tool for grid resiliency.

Last year, solar power accounted for 40 percent of new electric generating capacity additions in the U.S. Yet the industry faces a number of challenges, including the ending of federal incentives for solar projects and an uncertain future for net metering, both of which have been instrumental in the industry’s growth. The coronavirus will also impact solar adoption as consumers and businesses focus their attention elsewhere.  

Anne Hoskins, head of federal and state policy at Sunrun, the nation’s largest residential solar power company, discusses the industry’s challenges and grounds for optimism, including solar power’s role in addressing the challenge of grid resiliency, particularly where emerging climate impacts are placing unprecedented demands on the electricity system.

Anne Hoskins is chief policy officer at Sunrun.

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Apr 14, 2020
The Struggle for Local Control Over Energy Development

Energy projects bring economic opportunity, but host communities often suffer disproportionate health and environmental impacts. An expert in environmental regulation looks at community efforts to exert control over energy development.
Communities across the United States are coming into conflict with their state governments over where and how energy projects may be built. The issue has drawn attention in energy-rich states like Texas, where a half decade ago the state government introduced a law that prevented towns from limiting fracking within their jurisdiction. Conversely, last year in Colorado cities and towns gained power to regulate local energy development after a number of previous efforts to assert local authority had failed.

The challenge isn’t confined to fossil fuels. On the renewable energy front, communities have opposed wind, solar and other projects that residents say could bring their own set of environmental problems.

Hannah Wiseman, Dean for Environmental Programs at the Florida State University College of Law, discusses energy development turf wars and the often conflicting priorities of states and the cities and towns within their borders. She also discusses strategies that may help strike a balance between local health and environmental concerns and the larger economic and climate benefits that the development of new energy projects can bring.

Hannah Wiseman is Professor and Associate Dean for Environmental Programs at the Florida State University College of Law. Her work focuses on the role that regulation plays in balancing energy development and environmental quality.

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Apr 03, 2020
Will the Clean Energy Transition Bring Energy Equality?

Nobel Laureate Daniel Kammen, head of U.C. Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, discusses efforts to build clean energy solutions that meet the social and developmental needs of the communities they serve.


Discussions around today’s clean energy transition tend to focus on technological challenges, and the costs and climate benefits of renewable energy. Yet the social and cultural implications of a transition to clean energy are often overlooked.

Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kammen talks about his research into the ways that the adoption of clean energy may impact society and, by extension, guide political discourse. He also discusses how taking into account social, economic and developmental realities could accelerate the move away from fossil fuels, and speed electrification in some of the poorest regions of the globe.

Daniel Kammen is Distinguished Professor of Energy in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also Director of Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, and a former Science Envoy for the U.S. State Department. 

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Mar 17, 2020
The Challenge of Scaling Negative Emissions

The author of the first text book on carbon capture looks at the potential for negative emissions technologies to limit global warming, and discusses the challenge to scaling solutions for positive climate impact.
Negative emissions technologies are a key part of the strategy to keep global warming within the 2 degree Celsius limit set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. In fact, its projected that we’ll need to remove dramatic quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year to keep within the Paris goal. Yet today negative emissions hardly exists in any practical sense, and major barriers to growth lie ahead in the form of high costs, environmental impacts and political support.

Jennifer Wilcox, professor of Chemical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and author of the very first text book on carbon capture, talks about the challenge of scaling negative emissions technologies to the point at which they can meaningfully limit carbon dioxide concentrations in Earth’s atmosphere. Along the way, she looks at how the challenge of scaling negative emissions recalls early barriers to growing the wind and solar industries, and at recent efforts to speed the deployment of negative emissions technologies including direct air capture.

Jennifer Wilcox is professor of Chemical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She is a member of committees at the National Academies of Sciences and the American Physical Society charged with assessing carbon capture methods, their costs, and their climate impacts.

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Mar 03, 2020
Energy Transition Challenges for the 2020s

What key developments are likely to mark the energy industry in the decade of the 2020s? Two experts in energy politics and economics offer their views of the future.


In looking back on history we often tend mark time by the decade. In the world of energy, the decade of 1970s is remembered as an era of oil crises and concern that the world’s energy supply was running out. More recently, the decade of the 2010s stands out for the emergence of shale oil and gas, and the growing adoption of renewables.

And now, as we embark upon a new decade, it’s time to consider what key developments in energy the 2020s might bring.

Two experts in the history of energy technology and politics offer their views on key energy trends that are likely to emerge in the decade ahead. The pair takes a particularly close look at how renewable energy might develop in the 2020s, and barriers to growth to watch out for.

Johannes Urpelainen is professor of Energy, Resources and Environment in the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Michael Aklin is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. The two have launched a research program, the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy, to promote sustainable energy in emerging economies.

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Feb 18, 2020
Following Refinery Blast, Philadelphia Looks to a Cleaner Future

Last June the largest oil refinery on the East Coast of the United States blew up. In the disaster’s wake, can the city of Philadelphia and its residents transition to a cleaner, more financially sound future? 


On June 21, 2019 the largest oil refinery on the East Coast exploded. The blast released thousands of pounds of toxic hydrogen fluoride gas into the surrounding Philadelphia air, and launched bus-sized debris across the neighboring Schuylkill River. Through sheer luck, the dissipating effect of winds on toxic gasses, and thanks to the clear headed emergency action of refinery operators, no one was seriously injured in the moments following the blast.

Yet many in this city point out that the refinery leaves behind a legacy of health impacts, including elevated asthma rates in the densely populated neighborhoods that surround the site. The refinery also leaves a vast patch of urban landscape that is so toxic that it’s doubtful that it can ever be used for residential development.

In the months following the explosion, the city, its residents, and business interests jockeyed over the site’s fate. Proposals were floated to repurpose the site as a logistics hub, return it to its natural state as a tidal marshland, and even to repair and reopen the damaged refinery itself. Yet, the decision on what to do with the site would ultimately be made within the walls of a Delaware bankruptcy court, where the priorities of the refinery’s creditors would take precedence.

On January 22 the waiting came to an end. The court announced that a Chicago-based real-estate company had agreed to purchase the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery for $240 million dollars. The buyer has not yet announced a detailed vision for the site, but has a history of redeveloping industrial locations for less-polluting uses. Yet the auction’s losing bidders aren’t looking to go quietly, and there may be more drama to come.

Dr. Mark Alan Hughes, director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and former founding sustainability manager for the city of Philadelphia, talks about the sale of Philadelphia Energy Solutions and what the future may hold for the city of Philadelphia.

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Jan 30, 2020
Climate Negotiator Contemplates Future of Paris Agreement Without the U.S.

2020 will be a crucial year for the Paris Agreement. An architect of the climate process considers the implications of the U.S. presidential election, and what might be accomplished in the months ahead. 


In November of this year the 195 countries that are part of the Paris climate process will hold their annual summit in Glasgow, Scotland. At the talks, countries are expected to announce more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets in response to recent reports from the UN and others that highlight both the dangers of a warming climate, and the inadequacy of current efforts to keep warming to a minimum.

Yet concern is growing over whether the vital goals of the Glasgow conference can be met.  Recently, at the COP25 summit in Madrid in December, countries remained far apart on key rules to guide implementation of the Paris Agreement going forward. What’s more, 2020 could prove to be a year of climate limbo, as the world awaits the outcome of the U.S. presidential election that will likely determine whether the U.S. returns to the Paris process and resumes a leadership role.

Andrew Light, an architect of the U.S. involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement, talks about the current status of the Paris climate process, and what we might expect as 2020 unfolds. 

Andrew Light is a Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Global Climate Program at the World Resources Institute, and University Professor at George Mason University. He formerly served with the U.S. State Department, where he was a member of the senior strategy team for UN Climate Negotiations and U.S. participation in the Paris Accord.

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Jan 21, 2020
Is Climate Risk Insurable?

As climate-related disasters become more severe and frequent, insurers and governments face an economic black hole.
The insurance industry specializes in understanding the nature of risk, and in estimating the likelihood, and cost, of future damages that can result.
A major challenge for the insurance industry is to understand how climate change alters the likelihood of future natural disasters, from floods to wildfires, and how to accurately reflect these risks in the premiums it charges to consumers and businesses.
Carolyn Kousky, executive director of the Wharton Risk Center, takes a look at insurers’ struggle to manage natural disasters of unprecedented scale, the challenge of communicating climate risk, and how climate risk is being felt in the energy industry.

Carolyn Kousky is executive director of the Wharton Risk Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work focuses on disaster insurance markets and policy responses to changes in extreme events arising from climate change.
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Jan 07, 2020
Power of Siberia Pipeline Strengthens Russia-China Ties

The Power of Siberia gas pipeline brings Russia and China closer together, and reveals a new power dynamic between the two countries.
In early December China received its first delivery of Russian natural gas through the Power of Siberia pipeline. The new pipeline crosses 1800 miles of Siberian wilderness from the Arctic to the Chinese border, and is vitally important to both countries. For Russia, the pipeline will be a source of much needed foreign revenue, and a counter to US and European economic sanctions that followed its annexation of Crimea in 2014. China, for its part, gains a new alternative to imports of liquefied natural gas, and improved energy security.

Beyond Power of Siberia’s energy and economic benefits, much has been made its political implications. The pipeline is the latest example of deepening ties between China and Russia at a time when both countries have been at odds with another key player in the global energy market, the United States.

Kleinman Center Senior Fellows Anna Mikulska and Bill Hederman take a look at what Power of Siberia may reveal about a shift in the global energy market, and the geopolitical influence of key players in that market.

Anna Mikulska is a senior fellow at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and a nonresident fellow in energy studies at the Rice University’s Baker Institute. Bill Hederman is a senior fellow at the Kleinman Center, and a former senior advisor within the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Dec 23, 2019
Airlines Struggle to Rise to Climate Challenge

The airline industry has a plan to limit its carbon footprint. Will it deliver?
The global air travel industry is growing rapidly, with the number of airline passengers projected to double in less than 20 years. Yet strong growth may not be entirely good news for the industry, which has come under scrutiny for its outsized carbon footprint in an age when concern over climate change is on the rise.

An expert on airline emissions looks at the uniquely difficult challenge airlines face in reducing greenhouse emissions even as ridership grows, and at whether an industry plan to hold emissions in check will in fact deliver. Guest Andrew Murphy, aviation manager at Brussels-based Transport and Environment, also explores the role air travel may play in helping or hindering countries in their efforts to fulfill national and international climate commitments, including those under the Paris Climate Accord.

Andrew Murphy is manager for aviation at Transport and Environment, an organization in Brussels, Belgium that works alongside industry and governments to reduce transportation emissions.

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Dec 10, 2019
Rethinking Global Emissions Trading

The Environmental Defense Fund's chief economist discusses a plan that leverages international cooperation to achieve ambitious, and durable greenhouse emissions reductions under the Paris climate framework.


The first global climate pact, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, created the foundation for global emissions trading by allowing developed countries to purchase carbon offsets from areas of the globe where the cost of reducing greenhouse emissions was lowest.  

Yet emissions trading under the Kyoto framework was far from perfect.

Too many projects failed to deliver carbon reductions beyond what would have happened anyway. And even where climate benefits were real, projects often weren’t built to last and deliver ongoing reductions on the scale needed to address the long-term challenge of climate change.

Suzi Kerr, chief economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, discusses a new framework for global emissions trading under the Paris Climate Accord, intended to incentivize ambitious and sustained emissions reductions. The plan, called Climate Teams, creates small groups of countries that are economically committed to each other and to creating financial and technological conditions needed to address climate change over the long term.

Suzi Kerr is chief economist with the Environmental Defense Fund in New York. Her work focuses on domestic and international climate change policy.

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Nov 26, 2019
Rebuilding Puerto Rico’s Electricity System

Puerto Rico’s electric system was destroyed by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Will privatization of the island’s electric utility ensure reliable and affordable energy for the future? 


In 2017 Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s electric grid, cutting off power to the island’s residents, some of whom remained without electricity for nearly a year. The island’s publicly owned power utility, PREPA, is now for sale, and it’s hoped that privatization will deliver an electric grid better prepared to endure future tropical storms, and to deliver power that Puerto Ricans can afford.

David Skeel, member of Puerto Rico’s congressionally mandated Financial Oversight and Management Board tasked with guiding the recovery of Puerto Rico’s bankrupt economy, talks about PREPA’s controversial privatization plan and the challenge of overcoming years of mismanagement and corruption that have dogged the utility.

David Skeel is the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a member of Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board.

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Nov 12, 2019
The Rise of Partisan Politics in Energy Regulation

Cheryl LaFleur, former commissioner with the U.S.’ top electricity and gas market regulator, talks about the growing influence of partisan politics in energy regulation.


Over the past decade the emergence of shale natural gas and concern over climate change have fundamentally changed the U.S. energy landscape, and the way in which Americans talk about energy. Cheryl LaFleur, until August a commissioner with the nation’s top electricity and natural gas market regulator, has been outspoken in her concern over the rise of partisanship in energy dialogue, and how political divides may impact regulation of the nation’s energy industry.

LaFleur served for a decade with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and as the commission’s chairman during both the Obama and Trump presidencies. She talks about the risk that party politics pose to the FERC’s mandate to be an impartial arbiter of the nation’s energy markets. She also looks at how growing climate concern may complicate the commission’s job of overseeing the sector, and at the widening rift between states and the federal government over key energy and environmental policy issues.

Cheryl LaFleur was a commissioner with the FERC from 2010 to August, 2019. On October 24, 2019, LaFleur received the Carnot Prize for distinguished contributions to energy policy from the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, the producer of Energy Policy Now.

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Oct 29, 2019
The Path Forward for Grid Electricity Storage

Battery storage will play a central role in decarbonizing the nation’s electric grid, yet the rules by which batteries will compete in electricity markets have yet to be agreed upon.
The cost of battery electric storage technology is falling rapidly, creating opportunity for batteries to play a growing role in the nation’s electricity system and in the reduction of the grid’s carbon footprint. Last year, the regulator of the nation’s electricity markets, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, acknowledged the growing potential of storage when it established guidelines for batteries to fully, and profitably, take part in the nation’s electricity markets.

A year later, however, a number of legal and regulatory challenges remain that could slow the growth of battery storage, and make it harder for the technology to achieve the economies of scale it will need to compete with traditional sources of electric power.

Kleinman Center Senior Fellow Ken Kulak takes a look at the role of regulation in defining the future of energy storage and its ability to serve as a complement to carbon free energy. He also previews the upcoming FERC meeting where the agency is expected to rule on U.S. electricity markets’ plans to open their doors to full participation of battery storage.

Ken Kulak is a partner at the law firm Morgan Lewis where he focuses on energy regulation and complex energy transactions. He is also a Senior Fellow here at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.

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Oct 15, 2019
Debunking the "War on Coal"

The Trump Administration has blamed the decline in America’s coal industry on a regulatory “war on coal.” Yet investor reaction to regulatory announcements doesn’t support that view. 


The U.S. coal industry has declined dramatically over the past decade, with output from the nation’s coal mines falling 35% from their peak. Today, coal-fired power plants generate just over a quarter of the nation’s electricity and have been surpassed by natural gas plants as the top source for electric power. 

A variety of narratives have been put forth to explain coal’s decline. None has been more politically charged than the “war on coal” narrative, advanced by the Trump Administration, that places blame on a set of Obama-era federal policies to reduce the environmental impact of coal.

Guests Cary Coglianese, director of the Penn Program on Regulation and Dan Walters, Assistant Professor of Law at Penn State University, discuss new research that takes a close look at the impact of federal environmental regulation on the coal industry.  The research focuses on the reaction of investors to major regulatory announcements, and the extent to which federal energy and environmental policies have colored investors’ view of the future viability of the coal industry.  

Coglianese and Walter's report, Whither the Regulatory War on Coal? Scapegoats, Saviors and Stock Market Reactions, is available on the website of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.

Cary Coglianese is director of the Penn Program on Regulation at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Dan Walters is an Assistant Professor of Law at Penn State University whose work focuses on energy and environmental law. Previously Dan was a Regulation Fellow at the Penn Program on Regulation.

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Oct 09, 2019
Climate Denialism, Florida, and the Future of Climate Politics

Rafe Pomerance, an early campaigner for climate action and the subject of Nathaniel Rich’s book “Losing Earth,” discusses the increasingly pivotal role of climate change in U.S. electoral politics.
Rafe Pomerance, a former Washington environmental lobbyist and subject of Nathaniel Rich’s recent book on climate change, Losing Earth, spent the 1980’s bringing global warming and the need for climate action to the attention of Washington lawmakers and the country at large. Those efforts were frustrated by the end of the decade, as deliberate misinformation campaigns distorted public understanding of climate science, and as pressure from the fossil fuel industry drove many politicians to reject climate policy.

Four decades later, Pomerance offers his view on the damage done by climate denialism, and a look at the options that remain today to minimize warming and its impacts. He also discusses his current work to turn climate change into a pivotal electoral issue in Florida, a state that is emerging as a bellwether for climate politics.

Rafe Pomerance is Chairman of Arctic 21, a network of organizations focused on climate policies impacting the Arctic, and consultant to ReThink Energy Florida. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment and Development under president Bill Clinton.

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Sep 17, 2019
How the Democratic-Republican Climate Rift Became Political Reality

Over the past half century Americans have become increasingly polarized over the issues of environment and climate change. A pioneer in the field of environmental sociology discusses how views on climate have become an essential element of party ideology, and what it means for the 2020 election.


Climate change has emerged as a major issue in U.S. electoral politics and an early focus of debate among potential 2020 democratic presidential candidates. For a growing number of voters, climate action increasingly ranks in importance alongside traditional issues like healthcare, jobs and education.

Yet while a growing number of voters demand that candidates prioritize climate, the issue may also prove to be a political liability for candidates of all stripes in a nation where views on climate have become deeply entwined with social and political identities.

Pioneering environmental sociologist Riley Dunlap, Regents Professor at Oklahoma State University, takes a look at a half century of public dialogue over environment and climate in the United States. He shares  insights into the genesis of the public divide over climate change, where the divide stands today, and how it might influence next year’s presidential election.

Riley Dunlap is Regents Professor at Oklahoma State University, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and former Chair of the American Sociological Association’s Task Force on Sociology and Global Climate Change.

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Jul 23, 2019
Breaking America's Nuclear Waste Impasse

Former NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane discusses four decades of failed efforts to find a permanent disposal solution for America’s civilian nuclear waste and new thinking, based on successful disposal efforts in the military and overseas, that could lead to a workable solution.  


There are 90,000 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste in temporary storage at sites across the United States. The waste is the responsibility of the federal government, which nearly four decades ago entered into an agreement with the nuclear power industry to collect and permanently dispose of spent reactor fuel. Yet today, after pouring billions of dollars into the mothballed Yucca Mountain disposal facility in Nevada, a solution to the country’s nuclear waste problem appears as distant as ever, while the nation’s nuclear waste stockpile continues to grow.

Allison Macfarlane, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, explores the challenges, ranging from safety concerns to politics, that have foiled efforts to find a nuclear waste solution. She also discusses some new thinking, based in successful efforts to develop disposal abroad, that might make it possible to reach a permanent solution in the US. 

Allison Macfarlane, former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under President Barack Obama, and now a professor of public and technology policy at George Washington University.

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Jul 09, 2019
Does Attribution Science Give Climate Litigators a Smoking Gun?

Climate attribution science allows connections to be made between extreme weather events and a warming climate. The science is also being used to trace climate change to the activities of specific industries and companies, potentially generating evidence to fuel climate litigation.


A new scientific discipline, climate attribution science, is making connections between climate change and recent extreme weather events in the U.S. and around the globe. The science is emerging as a result of advances in computer power used to model weather and the climate, and as scientists have focused their efforts to understand the causes of increasingly frequent heat waves, droughts and flooding.

Guests Peter Frumhoff, chief climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University explore attribution science and the extent to which the cause and effect relationship between climate change and weather can in fact be understood. They also look at how attribution science can be used to trace the contribution to climate change of major greenhouse gas emitters, potentially creating new legal liability for industries and countries.

Peter Frumhoff is chief climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Michael Burger is Executive Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

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Jun 25, 2019
Three Pathways to Uphold America’s Paris Commitment

Can consumers take the lead in reducing U.S. carbon emissions in the absence of strong federal climate policy?  New research takes a look at three aggressive pathways to meet the U.S.’ Paris goals. 


Regardless of the United States’ official intention to back out of the Paris Climate Accord, it’s a solid bet that at some point in the future the country will return to the global agreement, or something very much like it.  The assertion is rooted in widespread efforts from states and local communities to uphold Paris commitments, and by recent polling that shows that a strong majority of Americans favor government action to address climate change.

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a nonpartisan think tank, has released a report defining scenarios under which the U.S. could reach it’s Paris goal to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 80% by the year 2050.  Climate action scenarios are nothing new, but the center’s approach is unique in examining the sources of leadership that will drive down U.S. emissions.   

Matthew Binsted, a report author with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Brad Townsend, Innovation Director for the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions look at how the federal government, the states, and consumers might each take the lead in catalyzing aggressive carbon reductions.  The path taken may have implications for America’s global economic competitiveness, and domestic economic and social equity.

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Jun 11, 2019
Why Coal Persists

Global demand for coal is on the rise, with dire implications for climate. A look at why coal use endures, and what might be done to limit its use.


The International Energy Agency forecasts that global coal use will increase over the coming decade. Why is it that coal use persists, despite intensifying efforts of citizens, industry and governments to turn to cleaner alternatives?

Kleinman Center Senior Fellow Anna Mikulska, author of recently published policy paper The Long Goodbye: Why Some Nations Can’t Kick the Coal Habit, talks through the reasons that coal remains attractive, the drivers of growing global coal demand, and about policy solutions that may slow and reverse the trend.

Anna Mikulska is a Senior Fellow with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and Nonresident Scholar with the Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University.

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May 28, 2019
What’s the FERC, and How is it Shaping Our Energy Future? (Part 2)

Former FERC Commissioner Colette Honorable discusses the FERC's challenging relationship with the states over clean energy subsidies and their potential impact on the nation’s electricity markets. 


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates the United States’ wholesale natural gas and electricity markets, wielding influence over the cost of energy and the environmental impacts of the nation’s energy consumption. Today, the FERC finds itself at the center of intense debate over the extent to which environmental and climate concerns should factor in the shaping of the U.S. energy system.

Colette Honorable, a FERC commissioner from 2015 to 2017, discusses FERC’s struggle to balance clean energy development with the economic and supply considerations that have been the core of its regulatory mandate. Honorable also examines the growing tension between the states and the FERC around state efforts to subsidize nuclear and renewable energy, and over environmental review of the nation’s natural gas infrastructure.

In Part 1 of this two-part interview, released on April 30, 2019, Colette discussed FERC’s history and mandate.

Colette Honorable served as a FERC commissioner from 2015 to 2017. She is now a partner in the Energy and Natural Resources Group with the Reed Smith law firm in Washington DC.

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May 15, 2019
What’s the FERC, and How is it Shaping Our Energy Future? (Part 1)

Former FERC Commissioner Colette Honorable explains the work of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and its often contentious role in shaping the future of U.S. electricity and natural gas systems.
Fundamental changes are taking place across the U.S. energy landscape.  The growth of shale natural gas has changed the mix of fuels used to generate the nation’s electricity, with natural gas surpassing coal as the fuel of choice.  At the same time, growing concern over climate change has incentivized the development of clean energy technologies and further altered the nation’s energy mix.

Yet rapid change has brought conflict, particularly between the states and the federal government over their respective roles in defining the future of our energy system.  In the electricity sector, state efforts to support renewable and nuclear power threaten the integrity of electricity markets and federal authority to shape them.  In the gas industry, federal regulators have approved a web of new pipelines to transport shale natural gas around the country, only to see some projects stall over state environmental and climate concerns.

Former FERC commissioner Colette Honorable discusses the government agency that finds itself at the center of many of today’s most critical energy debates.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, also known as the FERC, is charged with regulating the interstate commerce of natural gas and electricity.  Its role extends from oversight of wholesale electricity markets to environmental review of natural gas pipelines. 

This episode covers FERC, its history and mandate.  The May 15, 2019 episode will take a closer look at the key debates now embroiling the Commission. 

Colette Honorable served as a FERC commissioner from 2015 to 2017.  She is now a partner in the Energy and Natural Resources Group with the Reed Smith law firm in Washington DC. 
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Apr 30, 2019
An Inside Look at the UN’s Effort to End Energy Poverty (and Fight Climate Change)

Rachel Kyte, a leader of the United Nation’s effort to eradicate energy poverty within a decade, discusses the challenge of providing universal energy access while limiting climate impacts.


One billion people around the world live without access to electricity, and well over a third of the global population still relies on wood to cook its food. The lack of access to reliable and clean energy is a major barrier to improving human health and to driving economic growth in the world’s poorest areas.

In response to this challenge, the United Nations has set the goal of spreading access to electricity to every corner of the globe within little more than a decade. Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, an organization focused on achieving the UN’s energy development goal, talks about the challenge of delivering universal access to electricity while addressing the climate impact that growing energy use might bring. She also takes a look at the challenges to financing energy transition on a global scale.

Rachel Kyte is Chief Executive Officer and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, and a Co-Chair of UN-Energy.

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Apr 17, 2019
A Hard Look at Negative Emissions

Much faith is being put in the ability of negative emissions technologies to slow the pace of climate change. Glen Peters of Norway’s Center for International Climate Research looks at the potential of negative emissions strategies, and the steep challenges to implementing them.
The goal of the Paris Climate Accord is to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the point beyond which the impacts of climate change are feared to be most severe and enduring. Staying below the 2 degree limit will require two complementary strategies. The first, mitigation, is now familiar, and involves limiting carbon dioxide emissions today by turning to cleaner energy and greater energy efficiency.
The second strategy is equally important in limiting future climate impacts, yet has received much less attention in public dialogue and policy circles. Negative emissions doesn’t yet exist in any practical sense, yet it will be counted upon to remove decades worth of carbon dioxide emissions from Earth’s atmosphere by the end of this century.
At their best, negative emissions technologies will play a vital role in holding climate change in check. But the technologies may also give us a false sense of security that today’s carbon emissions can reversed at some point in the future.
Glen Peters, research director at the Center for International Climate Research (CICERO) in Oslo, Norway, takes a close look at negative emissions, from their potential to the political and economic challenges that need to be overcome if they’re to have a meaningful impact on the climate.
Glen Peters is Research Director at the Center for International Climate Research (CICERO) in Oslo, Norway.  His work focuses on the human drivers of climate change and international climate policy.
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Apr 02, 2019
200 Years of Energy History in 30 Minutes (And What We Might Learn for the Future)

The current energy transition is fraught with economic and social implications, not to mention abundant political squabbles.  An economist looks at the past 200 years of global energy history and finds that difficult transitions are nothing new.


The world faces an urgent need to transform energy systems toward cleaner, renewable fuels.  Yet as challenging as the current energy transformation is, it’s worth noting that we’ve been through such momentous changes before. Over 250 years ago in England, coal fueled the start of the industrial revolution, opening the way to new economic growth and technological development that spread to many parts of the world.  

In this episode an economist explores the extent to which energy has come to underpin modern economies, and how energy resources of all types have become inseparable from our everyday lives.  

Jesús Fernández-Villaverdeis a professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is also author of an upcoming book on global economic history, with a major focus on the role of energy in economic development.

Mar 19, 2019
Can Norway’s State Oil Company Be A Climate Champion?

Norway is pursuing a future rich in fossil energy and climate solutions. Can its oil company, Equinor, reconcile these priorities and continue to reliably finance the country’s expansive social welfare system? Equinor’s Clean Energy Chief weighs in.


Much has been made of Norway’s efforts to address climate change.  The country has set the goal of going carbon neutral by the middle of the century, and generates nearly all of its electricity from hydropower. Norway’s ambitious environmental policies have even transformed the country’s car market, where EVs now account for half of new car sales.

Yet the country remains economically dependent on its fossil fuel industry, which provides key revenue for the government and its generous social welfare programs.

Much of Norway’s fossil fuel wealth comes from a single company, state-controlled Equinor, which has produced oil and gas from North Sea wells for half a century, and is now diversifying beyond fossil fuels. Equinor opened the world’s first commercial floating offshore wind farm in 2017, and is developing a carbon capture and storage business. 

Stephen Bull, Equinor’s Senior Vice President for Wind and Low Carbon Development, discusses Equinor’s efforts beyond fossil fuels and how the Norwegian government, which is environmentally progressive yet dependent on oil wealth, is driving the company. He also talks about the inherent conflict of interest when a fossil fuel company pursues non-fossil energy alternatives.

Stephen Bull, Senior Vice President for Wind and Low Carbon Development at Equinor, and Chairman of RenewableUK, a renewable energy trade association.

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Mar 05, 2019
Getting to the Right Carbon Price

Bipartisan carbon pricing proposals have started to appear at the national level, which begs a question: what’s the right price for carbon? An advisor to California and RGGI carbon markets offers insights.
Over the past two years the idea of putting a price on carbon has gathered new and often unexpected support from across the political spectrum. In 2017 a group of former Republican leaders offered up a proposal for a national carbon tax. This January, top economists including all of the living former Federal Reserve Chairs pledged their support for such a plan on the Op Ed page of the Wall Street Journal.  
While Congress has remained polarized, carbon pricing proposals have recently emerged from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. And oil companies such as Exxon and Shell now publicly  support a carbon price.
Guest Dallas Burtraw, an advisor to carbon cap and trade programs in California and the Eastern U.S., discusses one of the most challenging and controversial aspects facing any effort to price carbon: getting the carbon price right. When done correctly, carbon pricing can speed greenhouse emissions reductions and fuel economic growth. Yet carbon cap and trade markets, which have been operating for over a decade in Europe and the US, have at times struggled with pricing, highlight the challenges likely to face future carbon pricing efforts.
Dallas Burtraw is Chair of California’s Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee and a senior fellow with Resources for the Future. He is also a visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.
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Feb 19, 2019
China's EV Juggernaut

China is aggressively expanding its electric vehicle industry, with the aim of becoming a leader in the global automotive market.
China produces as many electric vehicles as the rest of the world combined, the result of aggressive government policies to boost EV demand and manufacturing.

The push to electrify is part of China’s broader effort to control air pollution in its cities, where car ownership has risen dramatically.  In a concerted effort, the government has invested heavily in the development of EV technologies, established sales quotas, and offered incentives to make EVs affordable.  Today, China has also become the world’s dominant maker of EV batteries, the most valuable component in any electric car, and its global automotive ambitions have grown.  

John Paul MacDuffie of the Wharton School of Business takes a closer look at the ambitious environmental and industrial policies that have enabled the growth of China’s electric vehicle industry.  He also discusses how China’s EV manufacturing scale, rooted in environmental policies, might upend traditional hierarchies in the global automotive industry.

John Paul MacDuffie is Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation, a global automotive research consortium.

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Feb 05, 2019
Where does the Defense Department Really Stand on Climate?

Congress has played down climate change while demanding that the Pentagon tackle climate-related security risks. A former DoD environmental lawyer looks at military efforts to address climate, and political mine fields along the way.


When one thinks of major security threats to the United States it’s pretty standard to conjure up images of hostile foreign armies or terrorist groups. Yet over the past decade, the U.S. Department of Defense has increasingly recognized climate change as a source of global political instability, with the potential to displace populations and give rise to armed conflict.

Climate change also challenges the military’s preparedness, as weather extremes, wildfires and flooding threaten military bases here and abroad. In January, the Defense Department released a report that found that two-thirds of the critical military installations it surveyed have suffered damage or operational disruptions linked to climate risks.

Yet, while the Pentagon has increasingly taken climate into account, in public it has been relatively quiet on the issue under a president and Congress that have largely opposed climate action.

Guest Mark Nevitt, a Penn Law lecturer and former U.S. Navy pilot and attorney who served as the Department of Defense regional environmental counsel in Norfolk, Virginia, discusses the risks that climate change poses to military installations, and the touchy intersection of climate politics and national security.

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Jan 24, 2019
Welcome to the Anthropocene, Our New Biogeophysical Home

Mankind’s impact on Earth extends well beyond climate change to the broader biosphere, where the conditions that nurtured the development of modern humans are at risk of being lost in a new epoch known as the Anthropocene.


Climate change makes headline news, but mankind's changes to planet Earth go well beyond rising temperatures. In this episode of Energy Policy Now prominent earth system scientist Will Steffen explores the dawn of a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene, where the systems of sea, land, and air will be unlike those experienced in human history.

The term Anthropocene, coined less than two decades ago, emphasizes the rising influence of humans on earth system processes, and our emerging role as the dominant force shaping Earth’s biologic and geologic systems. Steffen looks at the political and economic systems that have accelerated man’s impact on Earth since the middle of the 20th century, and at the role of technology and policy in slowing global change.

Will Steffen is emeritus professor at the Australian National University, former executive director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, and a former member of the Australian government’s Climate Commission.

Jan 08, 2019
Bold Climate Policy Is Coming. Investors, Take Note

A group of investors that manages $80 trillion in assets forecasts bold policy action on climate by the mid-2020s. What will such action mean for capital markets and economies?


Principles for Responsible Investment, a London-based organization focused on socially responsible investment, has introduced a dramatic vision of a global response to climate change. PRI, which is supported by the United Nations and a consortium of global investors, believes that by the middle of the next decade national governments will be compelled to take major policy actions to address climate change.

The shift, which PRI calls the Inevitable Policy Response, will fundamentally reorient the global economy and drive investment away from industries that are dependent on fossil fuels, and toward less carbon intensive activities. The policy shift will come quickly, disrupting financial markets, and overriding the assumption that industry and economies will have time to gradually adapt to the pricing of climate risks.

Nathan Fabian, Chief Responsible Investment Officer with PRI, discusses the drivers, timing and economic impacts of an expected shift in climate policy.

Nathan Fabian is Chief Responsible Investment Officer with Principles for Responsible Investment in London, UK.

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Dec 11, 2018
Vox’s David Roberts on Energy, Climate, and the Media

Vox writer David Roberts weighs in on the media’s role in shaping views on energy and the environment.


Vox Media’s David Roberts is one of the nation’s top energy and environmental journalists, and now also a Senior Fellow with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. 

In this episode of Energy Policy Now, Roberts discusses the media’s coverage of the politicized issues of energy and climate and the challenge of being heard in a noisy and splintered media environment.  He also talks about what it’s like to live and breathe energy from dawn to dusk (and beyond).

David Roberts is an energy and environmental writer with Vox, and a senior fellow with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.

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Nov 27, 2018
As India Eliminates Energy Poverty, Can It Also Fight Climate Change?

Piyush Goyal, India’s minister of railways and coal and past minister of renewable energy, discusses his country’s efforts to provide universal electricity access while limiting power sector pollution and climate impact.


India is home to the world’s most ambitious electrification effort. By the spring of 2019, India’s government aims to connect the 30 million rural Indian homes that remain without power to the electric grid, as part of its broader effort to raise living standards and promote economic development. By 2030, India’s demand for electricity will triple as its cities and middle class grow. 

New demand for electricity will be met by a mix of new renewable generation and coal-fired power. Emissions will rise as a result, highlighting the challenge India’s government faces in addressing air pollution and climate impacts at the same time it strives to eliminate energy poverty.

In this episode of Energy Policy Now, Piyush Goyal, India’s minister of railways, coal, and corporate affairs, discusses the potentially conflicting aims of providing universal electricity access and addressing environmental challenges. Until 2017, Goyal was minister of power, coal, new and renewable energy.

Piyush Goyal has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the Kleinman Center’s annual Carnot Prize in recognition of his contributions to energy policy. He will officially receive the prize in New Delhi.

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Nov 13, 2018
The Battle Over Methane Leaks

As Washington relaxes standards governing methane leaks, oil and gas industry leaders pledge to limit emissions. An economist and an environmental advocate examine the impact of methane leaks and the credibility of industry efforts to contain them.


In September, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior pushed forward two separate regulations that will, in effect, hold oil and gas companies less accountable for methane gas emissions into the atmosphere. The new rules ease requirements that energy companies detect and repair methane leaks from wells and pipelines. The Interior rule, which has gone into effect, and the EPA rule, which is now open for 60-days of public comment, are part of a series of Trump administration efforts to undo methane regulations that the same agencies had written during the Obama administration.

The agencies acknowledge that the looser regulations will have a negative climate impact. Methane is a greenhouse gas that can be 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Yet the current administration maintains that the Obama-era rules would place undue economic burden on energy companies, while many energy companies say that they’re already acting to reduce emissions, and the stricter rules are duplicative.

Guests Catherine Hausman, assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, and Ben Ratner of the Environmental Defense Fund, discuss the economic and environmental costs of methane emissions, and how estimates of these costs tend to vary widely. Hausman and Ratner also discuss why methane emissions are so hard to detect, explore initiatives to both speed and lower the cost of containing leaks, and look at whether industry’s voluntary efforts to reduce emissions are enough.

Catherine Hausman is a visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center, and an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, where she focuses on environmental and energy economics.

Ben Ratner is a Senior Director at the Environmental Defense Fund, based in Washington DC, where he focuses on collaborating with businesses on cleaner energy.

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Oct 30, 2018
What IPCC 1.5 Degree Report Means for Global Climate Action

IPCC lead climate author Oliver Geden talks about how politicians view the IPCC’s 1.5 degree report, and implications for climate action.


On October 8ththe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees. The report describes expected environmental, economic and social impacts brought by 1.5 degrees Celsius of climate warming, and the actions that need to be taken on a global scale to limit warming to that level.

The report’s timing is crucial, as it comes ahead of this December’s global climate meeting in Katowice, Poland, where nations that signed onto the Paris Climate Accord will establish the rules that will guide them in reaching their climate commitments. The IPCC’s report serves as a guide to how much countries might be able to limiting warming. Yet at the same time, the report highlights the unprecedented effort that would be required to hold to the 1.5 degree target.

Oliver Geden, a lead author of the IPCC’s next major report on climate change, discusses the implications of the IPCC report for policymakers and for the upcoming UN Climate Summit.

Oliver Geden is Head of the Europe Research Division at the German Institute for International Security Affairs in Berlin, which advises the German government and European Union on international policy issues. He is also a recent visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. Geden is a lead author the IPCC’s 6thAssessment Report on climate, due in 2022.

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Oct 16, 2018
Gas Pipelines: A Threat to Grid Resilience?
As natural gas has grown in importance as a fuel for electricity generation, have gas pipelines become the electric grid’s Achilles heel? A cybersecurity expert discusses the risk posed by the grid’s growing dependence on gas. --- Natural Gas fuels a third of the nation’s electricity generation, and the strong economics of natural gas are likely to cause its use to widen its use in years to come. Yet the growing reliance on natural gas may increase the risk of electricity supply disruption should pipelines fail due to severe weather, or physical and cyber attacks. States, federal government and electricity market operators are well aware of this vulnerability, but differ in how immediate they view threats to gas networks to be, and whether they believe regulators should dictate preventive action. Kleinman Center Senior Fellow and grid cybersecurity expert Bill Hederman talks about the growing dependence of the electric grid on natural gas, and the implications of gas pipeline vulnerability to the reliability and resilience of the electric grid. Listen to the companion podcast episode on state and federal action to address cyber risk, Grid Resilience in the Cyber Age. Bill Hederman is a Senior Fellow with the Kleinman Center and founder of the Office of Market Oversight and Investigations at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Related Content Grid Resilience in the Cyber Age: New FERC Rule Grows Clean Energy’s Role in Grid Resilience Distributed Energy’s Cyber Risk’s-cyber-risk
Oct 09, 2018
Grid Resilience in the Cyber Age
Can the U.S. electric grid remain resilient as the threat of cyber and physical attack rises? Pennsylvania PUC Chair Gladys Brown talks about state and federal efforts to safeguard the electric power system. --- The electricity industry has taken advantage of network communications technologies to deliver power more efficiently and reliably. But as information technology becomes interwoven into the electricity system, the industry has also become more vulnerable to cyber attack. In recent years, hackers have gained access to utility customer information and to energy control systems, and may ultimately threaten to disrupt power delivery itself. Gladys Brown, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and head of the Critical Infrastructure Committee at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), talks about cyber risk and electric grid resilience. She also looks at current efforts involving state and federal regulators, and agencies such as the Department of Homeland security, to ensure electricity supply as cyber risks proliferate. Gladys Brown is Chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. She also leads the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioner’s Critical Infrastructure Committee, a forum where state utility commissioners examine grid security risks and best practices. Related Content New FERC Rule Grows Clean Energy’s Role in Grid Resilience Distributed Energy’s Cyber Risk’s-cyber-risk
Oct 02, 2018
Decision Making for Climate Leaders
Can policymakers effectively prepare for an uncertain future climate? The Kleinman Center’s Mark Alan Hughes discusses emerging decision models for climate mitigation and adaptation. --- Policymakers increasingly face the challenge of deciding on pathways to mitigate and address the impacts of climate change, yet no clear view exists into the impacts of rising temperatures, changing weather patterns, and the timing of sea level rise. And, as we enter unprecedented climate territory, past climate patterns offer an ever less reliable view of the future. As a result, leaders in government and industry can be wary of making bold investments necessary to address a changing climate. Mark Alan Hughes, founding Faculty Director of the Kleinman Center, discusses an emerging area of decision science that aims to provide decision makers with tools that may help them to better account for climate uncertainty, potentially freeing them to make the investments needed to transform energy systems and address climate impacts. Mark Alan Hughes is founding Faculty Director of the Kleinman Center at Penn. Mark leads the center’s Pathways Project, which seeks practical solutions to the challenge of decision making under deep uncertainty (DMDU). Related Content Comparative Pathways Interim Report
Sep 18, 2018
Handicapping EPA's Deregulatory Climate Agenda
Can EPA’s Clean Power Plan replacement survive the courts? An architect of the Clean Power Plan weighs in. --- In August the Environmental Protection Agency revealed its replacement for the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era regulation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power industry. The replacement plan, championed by current EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler with backing from President Trump, does away with broad carbon emissions reduction targets for the electricity industry. Instead, the proposed regulation, called the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, or ACE, would require only that existing coal plants become more energy efficient. The result is likely to be modest reductions in carbon emissions, at best, from the electricity sector, while the lives of some coal plants could be extended. Joseph Goffman, a principle architect of the (original) Clean Power Plan during the Obama Administration, weighs in on the litany of legal challenges to ACE that are sure to come, and whether the EPA in fact has the legal latitude to weaken the very carbon dioxide standards that it had deemed essential to limiting climate change, and protecting human health, just a few years ago. Joe also discusses legal challenges facing the EPA’s current, parallel effort to relax automotive emission standards. Joseph Goffman is Executive Director of the Environmental Law Program at Harvard University. From 2009 to 2017, he served as Senior Legal Counsel in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. Related Content: Not an ACE for Coal: Reimagining Pennsylvania’s Coal Communities:
Sep 04, 2018
U.S. Offshore Wind Industry Arrives
After a decade of false starts, the U.S. offshore wind industry is poised for real growth. The Chief of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s renewables office takes a look at offshore wind’s future. --- After years of high hopes but little development, the U.S. offshore wind industry finally seems poised for growth following a series of major offshore project announcements this year. In May and June, the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut selected a combined 1,400 MW of offshore wind projects for contract negotiation. When complete, they’ll generate enough electricity to power 200,000 homes and help the states meet their clean energy and climate goals. The projects are all the more noteworthy given that there is currently just a single, small offshore wind farm operating in U.S. waters. Guest Jim Bennett heads the Office of Renewable Energy Programs at the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and is the individual charged with overseeing the federal government’s involvement in developing the United States’ offshore renewable energy resources. Bennett offers his insights into what’s driving recent investment in US offshore wind energy, the challenges to offshore wind development, and the potential for the offshore industry to become a vital, economically competitive source of clean electricity. Also featured is Brandon Burke, Brandon Burke, an attorney, offshore wind researcher, and soon to be master’s graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. Related Content Tilting at Windmills New FERC Rule Grows Clean Energy’s Role in Grid Resilience Clean Energy Costs Continue to Fall
Jul 24, 2018
Ending Water Wars
Fresh water resources are becoming scarce even as water demand from cities, industry and agriculture rises. Can seemingly inevitable conflicts over water, and their environmental consequences, be avoided? --- Access to fresh water has become an immediate concern in the United States. In recent years, unprecedented droughts have gripped central and western parts of the country, even as demand for water to supply cities, industry and farming has grown. And competition for water has led to a history of conflict between the states. Most recently in June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in a decades-long legal battle between Georgia and Florida over the right to water from a river system that is vital to the city of Atlanta and, downstream, to oyster fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. Yet the court’s ruling leaves the conflict unresolved, a result that reflects the intractability of so many fights over waterway control over the years. New research from Kleinman Center senior fellow Scott Moore suggests, counterintuitively, that water scarcity itself is often not the driving force behind water wars. Instead, a host of political and social factors often drive conflict. Moore discusses his new book on water conflict, Subnational Hydropolitics: Conflict, Cooperation and Institution-Building in Shared River Basins, and how understanding of political and social roots of water conflict can help government and communities find solutions, with positive outcomes for communities and the environment. Scott Moore is a senior fellow with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and a Water Resource Specialist with the World Bank’s Global Water Practice. Related Content: Sea Change: Desalination and the Water-Energy Nexus. Water, Waste, Energy: Lessons from Coca-Cola in Africa
Jul 07, 2018
Trade Policy, Markets Trump Administration's Fossil Fuel Efforts
President Trump has acted to boost fossil fuel development in the U.S. But market forces, and disruptive trade policies have more than offset the administration’s pro-oil and coal efforts. --- In his year and a half in office, President Donald Trump has acted to make good on his campaign promises to grow the U.S. oil, natural gas, and coal industries during his presidency. Trump has taken a series of actions aimed at reducing environmental oversight of fossil fuel producers and opening protected federal territory to new energy development. Yet the ability of the president, and of Washington, to open the door to new fossil energy production has its limits. Market forces—energy supply, demand and pricing—often play the leading role in an energy company's decision to drill new resources. At the same time, state-level energy regulations are often at odds with federal priorities. Energy policy and market experts Anna Mikulska and Michael Maher discuss the president’s strategy to assert global energy dominance, and how the strategy has been reflected in recent investment trends in U.S. oil, gas, and coal. Anna Mikulska is a senior fellow at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and a non-resident fellow with the Baker Institute for Energy Studies at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy. Her work focuses on the interplay between energy markets and policy. Michael Maher is senior program adviser at the Baker Institute's Center for Energy Studies. He focuses on U.S. energy policy related to oil and gas production and safety, offshore drilling, and LNG exports. Related Content The (Yet?) Non-existent Pipeline that Already Divides Europe Reimagining Pennsylvania’s Coal Communities Ending Fossil Fuel Tax Subsidies
Jun 25, 2018
Alaska in Energy Spotlight as New Arctic Drilling Looms
In the coming years 1.6 million acres of formerly protected Alaskan wilderness will be the site of new oil exploration and drilling. Can the state balance energy development and its environmental heritage? --- In December the Trump Administration opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy development, as part of the administration’s tax reform package. The opening was the culmination of a decades-long battle, fought at federal and state levels, to gain access to possibly 10 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil reserves in an area that is also home to some of the United States’ greatest wildlife populations. The move is part of the Trump administration’s plan to increase oil output and achieve its stated goal of global energy dominance. For Alaska, new development has the potential to accelerate a recent uptick in Alaskan oil production that follows nearly three decades of declining output. Energy Policy Now guest Lois Epstein, Arctic Program Director with the Wilderness Society in Alaska, discusses how the opening of ANWR is the latest chapter in a long history of energy development in Alaska, and looks at the historic the tie between the state’s economy and the oil industry’s fortunes. A 17-year resident of the state, she provides her perspective on the way that Alaskans view their relationship to energy and environment, and how the often competing priorities of energy development, budgets and environment are being weighed as a potential new wave of oil development in ecologically sensitive areas looms. Lois Epstein is Arctic Program Director with the Wilderness Society in Alaska. Her work focuses on the safety and environmental impact of Arctic oil and gas operations. A licensed engineer, Epstein has served on a number of federal advisory committees, including two National Academy of Sciences committees studying oil and gas regulations. She has also testified more than a dozen times on energy and environmental issues before the U.S. House and Senate. Related Content The World Bank Moves Away from Fossil Fuels: Unpacking IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2017:’s-world-energy-outlook-2017
Jun 10, 2018
Are 100% Renewable Energy Targets Realistic?
A number of states are pushing legislation that would require 100% renewable energy supply. But challenges ranging from high costs to the duck curve could make such targets hard to reach. --- A number of states are taking it upon themselves to lower carbon emissions by adopting aggressive clean energy targets. In states like California, Washington, and Massachusetts, lawmakers are considering legislation requiring utilities to get 100% of their electricity from renewable sources. California already generates two-thirds of its power from renewables on peak days, while in Iowa, wind produces a third of the state’s overall electricity. Yet as renewable energy grows in popularity, the falling costs that helped fuel growth can get turned on their head, and overall costs can begin to rise. At the same time, the incremental environmental benefits of renewables can diminish as more wind and solar connect to the grid. Guest Karl Hausker, senior fellow at the Kleinman Center and author of the Risky Business Project report “From Risk to Return, Investing in a Clean Energy Economy,” looks at the pathway to widespread renewable energy with an eye on likely economic and political challenges along the way. Karl Hausker is a senior fellow with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and a senior fellow with the World Resources Institute’s Global Climate program. Related Content: Power Over the Twenty-First Century Electric Grid Energy Storage in PJM. FERC Clean Energy Policy Roundup.
May 31, 2018
Distributed Energy's Cyber Risk
As distributed energy grows, so does cyber risk to the grid. Two energy security experts discuss solutions. --- In recent months the threat of cyber attack on the nation’s electricity system has come into urgent focus. Earlier this year the FBI and Department of Homeland Security made public a series of cyberattacks that penetrated the control systems of several nuclear power stations. Another recent attack on a network of natural gas pipelines threatened fuel supply to gas-fired powerplants in the Eastern U.S. And both breaches came in the wake of a 2015 cyberattack on three Ukrainian electric utilities that left more than 200,000 people without power. Yet even as awareness of cyber threats has risen, vulnerability to such attacks continues to grow. At the distribution level, behind the meter technologies like rooftop solar, battery storage and demand response make the electric system more efficient, but also provide attackers with new points of entry into an electric system that was, by and large, built without cyberthreats in mind. Cybersecurity experts Bill Hederman and Steve Kunsman discuss the cyber vulnerabilities of the electric distribution system, and political and technological means of addressing cyber risk. Guest Bill Hederman is a Senior Fellow with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and a former senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy of during the Obama administration. He was also founder of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Market Oversight and Investigations. Steve Kunsman is Chairman of the Cyber Security Subcommittee at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He is also Director of Product Management and Applications at ABB North America. Related Content: Big Advance for Cybersecurity Also Important for Energy Cybersecurity The Energy Sector Confronts Cyber Risk
Apr 30, 2018
An EPA After Scott Pruitt
What might the EPA look like without current Administrator Scott Pruitt? Two regulatory experts discuss the future direction of the agency. --- EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has come under bipartisan fire for an array of ethical missteps that range from lavish spending on travel to the granting of illegal pay raises for select EPA staffers. Over the past week, staunch Pruitt supporters such as Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso have questioned the transparency with which Pruitt has run his office, and legislators from both sides of the aisle have suggested that Pruitt may not be fit to lead the agency. Could Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA be coming to an end? And if so, what direction might the embattled agency take under new leadership, such as that of recently confirmed Deputy EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler? In this special episode of Energy Policy Now, Penn Law energy and environment legal experts Cary Coglianese and Daniel Walters discuss the swirl of possible ethical violations that have led to the Pruitt controversy. They explore what Pruitt's departure could mean for his efforts—and those of the Trump administration—to deprioritize environmental protection at the EPA and roll back environmental regulations. Cary Coglianese is the Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, and the founding director of the Penn Program on Regulation at Penn Law. Daniel Walters is a Regulation Fellow with the Penn Program on Regulation at Penn Law. Related Content: The Future of the EPA and Clean Power The Many Fronts of Trump’s Environmental Deregulation Effort Hot Topics on Climate Change
Apr 23, 2018
The Legal Limits to State Climate Action
How far can the states go in implementing climate regulations against Washington’s will? Two regulatory experts discuss the legal limits to local climate action. --- Over the past 15 months the Trump administration has moved to eliminate or water down a host of environmental regulations tied to energy use. The administration has rejected the Clean Power Plan, sought to relax rules that limit methane emissions from oil and gas wells, and announced that it will lower national car and truck fuel economy standards. Simultaneously, the federal government has been working to counter state and municipal efforts to strengthen local environmental rules. And recently, concern has been raised that the Environmental Protection Agency, under Secretary Scott Pruitt, might try rescind the waiver that allows California to set its own automotive emissions standards. Cary Coglianese of the Penn Program on Regulation, and Shana Starobin of Bowdoin College, discuss the legal limits to state and municipal efforts to take climate action, and at the tools Washington can use to rein in local regulations. Cary Coglianese is a professor of law and political science at the Penn Law, and Director of the Penn Program on Regulation. Shana Starobin is an assistant professor of government and environmental studies at Bowdoin College and a former fellow at the Penn Program on Regulation at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Related Content: A City Blazes its Clean Energy Trail:
Apr 17, 2018
Rising Seas and the Future of Coastal Cities
As sea levels rise, nuisance flooding is the first wave of assault on coastal cities. Can we protect our coasts from inundation, or is retreat inevitable? --- Jeff Goodell, author of the New York Times award-winning book, The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World, talks about the impact of rising seas on America’s coastal centers in the decades to come. Will innovative engineering allow cities and towns to be protected, and at what cost? Or, will the seas prevail, leaving some areas abandoned? Billy Fleming, research director for the Ian L. McHarg Center at the Penn School of Design and an expert on climate adaptation planning, weighs in as well. The U.S. government estimates that sea levels will rise by two feet by the middle of this century due to a warming climate. Already the impact of higher water is being felt in points around the country. In many coastal communities, nuisance flooding has become the predictable norm. Miami Beach is spending half a billion dollars to elevate roads and install pumps in an effort to stay dry. And Houston, New York, and New Orleans, all cities that are just feet above sea level, have recently seen unprecedented and devastating flooding. Goodell and Fleming look at the political and human costs of taking action. Jeff Goodell is a contributing editor with Rolling Stone magazine, where his writing focuses on environmental and climate issues. Last year he published his sixth book, The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World, which earned a Critics’ Top Book award from the New York Times. Billy Fleming is research director for the Ian L. McHarg Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design. His research focuses on climate adaptation planning along the U.S. coast. Related Content Water Issues in California Hot Topics on Climate Change
Apr 02, 2018
Lessons From a Decade of Cap & Trade
Carbon Cap and Trade is gaining momentum, most recently with China’s plan to build the largest carbon market. But how successful has cap and trade been in limiting emissions, and what can new markets learn from past mistakes? --- Carbon cap and trade has made headlines in recent months as governments turn to carbon markets to limit greenhouse emissions. The biggest announcement came in December, when China formally announced the establishment of a national carbon trading system that will initially cover its electric power industry. Once China’s market is up and running, it’ll dwarf the largest existing cap and trade market, the European Emissions Trading System that started in 2005. Developments are underway in the U.S. as well. In January, New Jersey announced that it will rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, commonly called RGGI, which it had previously abandoned. And Virginia has announced its intention to also join the carbon market, which spans nine northeastern states. Kleinman Center Faculty Fellow Arthur van Benthem discusses how cap and trade cost-effectively limits carbon dioxide emissions. He also examines the economic competitiveness of cap-and-trade programs. Arthur van Benthem is a Faculty Fellow with the Kleinman Center and Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Wharton School of Business. His research and teaching focus on the economic efficiency of energy policies, and the unintended consequences of environmental legislation. Earlier, he worked as an economist and strategist at Royal Dutch Shell. Related Content China Introduces Emissions Trading System. Hot Topics on Climate Change Climate Policy in a Disorganized World
Mar 19, 2018
The Promise and Perils of Self-Driving Trucks
Self-driving trucks promise to revitalize the trucking industry. But increased energy demand and air pollution are possible downsides. --- Self-driving technology is making its way onto America's roads. Companies including Lyft, Ford and Google's Waymo are investing heavily to develop driverless vehicles and transportation services. Driverless technology is also being developed for the trucking industry, a cornerstone of the economy that moves 70% of manufactured goods yet finds itself challenged by high fuel costs, safety concerns, and a shortage of drivers. Guest Steve Viscelli, Senior Fellow with the Kleinman Center, looks at the potential for driverless trucks to stake their claim on the nation's highways and create a more efficient transportation system. He also talks about potential impacts that vast fleets of driverless trucks may have on energy demand, air quality, and traffic congestion, and the choices policy makers face in balancing these outcomes. Steve Viscelli is a Senior Fellow with the Kleinman Center and a lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Sociology, where he researches policy in the areas of energy efficiency and employment relations. Steve also worked as a truck driver while researching his 2016 book, The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream. Related Content Stalled: Make Big Trucks More Fuel Efficient
Feb 27, 2018
The Future of Nuclear Host Communities
Nuclear power plants pump millions of dollars into local economies. As the rate of nuclear retirements accelerates, will surrounding communities find a way forward? -- A growing number of U.S. nuclear power plants are threatened with early retirement as the combination of rising operating costs, and low electricity prices, have eroded the nuclear industry's profits. The reactors are often the economic life blood of the mostly rural communities where they're located. When they close, many good paying jobs, and generous funding for school and community services disappear. And, unlike most one-company towns, nuclear host communities are burdened with a legacy of nuclear waste that can create barriers to redevelopment. Guests Jennifer Stromsten, Program Director with the Institute of Nuclear Host Communities, and Saqib Rahim, an E&E News reporter who's written extensively on nuclear plant closures, discuss community efforts to navigate the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear station in southern Vermont. They also look at the impact that the ongoing storage of nuclear waste at the site is having on efforts to redevelop, and initiatives at the state and national level to give communities more say in the decommissioning process and, by extension, control over their path forward. Jennifer Stromsten is Program Director with the Institute of Nuclear Host Communities and works for the economic development agency that serves the region surrounding Entergy Corporation's Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The plant closed in 2014 and is now in the process of decommissioning. Saqib Rahim is a reporter with E&E News who has written at length about Vermont Yankee and the legacy of nuclear plant closures. Related Content: Nuclear Decommissioning: Paying More for Greater, Uncompensated Risks: A Clean Grid is a Diverse Grid
Feb 13, 2018
Envisioning a Low Carbon, Lowest Cost Grid
Today's electric grid will need to be reimagined to deliver carbon-free power. MIT's Jesse Jenkins talks about what a deeply decarbonized electricity system might look like, and how to build it at lowest cost. --- In its 2014 report on global warming, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that carbon dioxide emissions must fall by as much as 70% by mid century to avoid the most "severe, pervasive and irreversible" damage from climate change. A key to reducing carbon emissions will be the near complete decarbonization of the global electricity system, which is today's largest source of greenhouse gasses, and remains largely dependent on fossil fuels. Kleinman Center Visiting Scholar Jesse Jenkins discusses the economics of building a 'deeply decarbonized' electricity system. Jesse, and a group of MIT engineers, have modeled future electricity systems to determine the mix of low carbon energy resources that will create tomorrow's most resilient, cost-effective, and low-carbon electricity systems. Their research is currently working its way through peer review and will be released later this year. Jesse Jenkins is a researcher with the Electric Power Systems Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is former Director of the Breakthrough Institute's Energy and Climate Program, where he led research into energy, climate change and innovation policy. Related Content: Solar Industry Growth Set to Slow: Clean Energy Costs Continue to Fall: Climate Policy in a Disorganized World: Tilting at Windmills: A City Blazes Its Clean Energy Trail:
Jan 30, 2018
The Local View of Fracking
The view of Americans on the environmental and economic implications of fracking continues to be sharply divided a decade after the shale revolution began. But the author of a new book, The Fracking Debate, finds more nuanced perspectives in wellhead communities. -- The shale revolution in the United States is now more than a decade old. In the intervening years, energy companies have tapped vast, previously uneconomical oil and natural gas resources through a suite of technologies, including hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, and horizontal drilling. The results have been dramatic. Today the U.S. is a leading producer of oil, and the top global supplier of natural gas. But the shale revolution has also bred controversy as the country has struggled to balance fracking’s economic and environmental impacts. Those for and against fracking have often gone to great lengths to promote their views. Along the way, previously quiet communities, from Pennsylvania to North Dakota, have struggled to accommodate waves of drilling rigs and energy workers. Guest Daniel Raimi spent several years traveling the country to get to know the communities where fracking takes place. His travels led to a new book, The Fracking Debate: The Risks, Benefits, and Uncertainties of the Shale Revolution. In it Raimi seeks to relate the perspective of communities, and citizens, on fracking’s front lines, and provide unbiased answers to some of the biggest questions surrounding fracking. Related Content Pennsylvania’s Gas Decade: Polar Stress Test Revisits Gas-Powered Grids:
Jan 16, 2018
Corporations Deepen Clean Energy Commitments
U.S. corporations increasingly look to manage their carbon footprints, and energy costs, by entering into clean energy power purchase agreements (PPAs). The contracts offer a tailwind to renewable energy developers, but can challenge traditional utility-customer relationships. --- Ninety-five percent of the world’s largest 250 companies by revenue issue sustainability reports that disclose their environmental and social impact. On the energy front, this often translates into companies setting goals for clean energy use, with Google, Microsoft and Wal-Mart having set 100% clean energy targets for parts of their businesses. As companies look to aggressively reduce their carbon footprint, some are taking the step of making direct investments in clean energy projects through contracts known as wind and solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), under which they buy electricity directly from clean energy generators. Such deals ensure that clean energy purchases pass the additionality test, yet can disrupt traditional utility-customer relationships. Energy legal and regulatory expert Ken Kulak provides insights into corporate America’s efforts to clean up its electricity supply, even as the bulk of America’s electric generation continues to be powered by fossil fuels. Ken Kulak is Partner with the Morgan Lewis law firm in Philadelphia, and a Senior Fellow with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. Related Content Utilities Continue Coal Retreat, Advance on Gas and Renewables Tilting at Windmills
Jan 03, 2018
Grid Operator PJM Talks Details of Energy Price Formation
The Energy Department’s proposal to shore up coal and nuclear power plants could undermine the very foundations of competitive electricity markets. PJM Interconnection’s Stu Bresler, SVP for Operations and Markets, weighs in on DOE’s proposal, and explains PJM’s price formation alternative. --- In October, Department of Energy secretary Rick Perry grabbed the attention of US competitive wholesale electricity markets when he issued an unusual request to the federal agency tasked with overseeing these markets, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Perry’s proposal, known as the resiliency NOPR (or Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), asked that subsidies be paid to electricity generators that the Energy Department maintains are critical to the resilient operation of the electricity system. More specifically, the subsidies would go to coal and nuclear power plants that can store a 90-day supply of fuel on-site. DOE maintains that this would ensure the plants’ continued operation in the event of fuel supply disruptions, for example during extreme weather. But the move to favor certain generators threatens to undermine competitive market principles that are the foundation of electricity markets. It could also disadvantage other forms of generation, mainly natural gas and renewables which, the Energy Secretary maintains, are less resilient. PJM Interconnection, the largest competitive electricity market, has been outspoken in its concerns around the DOE proposal and the resiliency assumptions that underlie it. In this episode, PJM’s Stu Bresler, Senior Vice President for Operations and Markets, presents PJM’s alternative proposal, which aims to reform the way prices are set in energy markets. Critically from PJM’s perspective, it’s price formation reforms would preserve market-based principles. PJM’s proposed plan would increase revenues to electric generators, ultimately benefitting the same endangered coal and nuclear plants that the DOE aims to support. The Kleinman Center’s Christina Simeone, Director of Policy and External Affairs, who has written extensively on issues related to PJM, and handles the questioning. Related Content Initial Questions on PJM’s Price Formation Proposal’s-price-formation-proposal What the Heck is “Enhanced Price Formation” in PJM“enhanced-price-formation”-pjm PJM Governance Department of Energy Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule NOPR Initial Comments of PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. on the United States Department of Energy Proposed Rule DOE Staff Report to the Secretary on Electricity Markets and Reliability
Dec 12, 2017
India's Now or Never Climate Opportunity
Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact. --- Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people. Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers. Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself. Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, Visiting Scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come. Radhika Khosla is a Fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, India and India Fellow at the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of Oxford. She is also a visiting scholar at the MIT Energy Initiative, and a former Staff Scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Related Content: Energy Transformation and Air Quality in India Aligning Local Logic with Global Need
Nov 28, 2017
Distributed Energy's Wholesale Opportunity
Owners of rooftop solar could soon begin selling power into wholesale electricity markets, the traditional domain of big coal, gas and nuclear generators. The catch: electricity markets need to get fully behind the switch. --- America’s electricity system is undergoing dramatic change, in particular as distributed energy resources – notably rooftop solar and battery storage – become more common. Taken in aggregate, total rooftop solar and electricity storage now equals the generation potential of several traditional power plants. As these resources grow more popular, their potential to impact the larger electricity system also grows. Accordingly, some in the electricity industry have recognized the potential for distributed energy to participate in the same competitive, wholesale electricity markets that have been the domain of large nuclear, gas and coal generators. Ari Peskoe, Senior Fellow in Electricity Law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Policy Program Initiative, weighs in on the growth opportunity that wholesale markets can provide to distributed electricity, and at the policy and economic challenges that remain to their participation in these markets. Ari Peskoe is a Visiting Scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and Senior Fellow in Electricity Law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Policy Program Initiative. Earlier, as an energy attorney, he litigated cases before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Related Content: So What Are Utilities Doing About Storage? A Looming Bust for U.S. Solar Industry? Examining the Role of Early-Stage Venture Capital Investment in Industry Rate Decoupling and Economic and Design Considerations
Nov 14, 2017
A City Blazes Its Clean Energy Trail
A growing number of U.S. cities have set aggressive clean energy and efficiency targets, but the complexity and cost of energy transition can be daunting. Philadelphia’s Energy Manager offers insights into his city’s new plan to go 100% renewable and cut energy use. --- In September, the City of Philadelphia introduced its roadmap to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and move to 100% renewable energy. Philadelphia’s plan is a step toward fulfilling its commitment to lowering its carbon footprint, and comes as cities across the United States have moved to act on climate change as the federal commitment to address global warming has withered. Adam Agalloco, Philadelphia’s Energy Manager, outlines Philadelphia’s new Municipal Energy Master Plan, the means available to cities that aim to act independently to address climate change, and the costs of doing so. Adam Agalloco is Energy Manager for the City of Philadelphia and lead planner for Philadelphia’s Municipal Energy Master Plan, the city’s roadmap to reduce carbon emissions and adopt renewable energy. Related Content: Tilting at Windmills: The Emerging U.S. Offshore Wind Industry: Comparative Path to Regional Energy Transition: Aligning Local Logic with Global Need: Pennsylvania’s Gas Decade: Insights into Consumer Pricing Impacts from Shale Gas (2007-2016):
Oct 30, 2017
Building Resilient Coastlines
The U.S. government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars over the past decade to rebuild coastal cities and towns following hurricanes, yet coastlines remain vulnerable to repeat disaster. Two Penn urban policy experts discuss coastal resiliency and the process by which government allocates recovery funds. -- Federal spending on hurricane disaster relief has risen dramatically since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. Federal agencies have paid out $200 billion dollars for coastal recovery since. And, more recently, Texas governor Greg Abbott projected that recovery from Hurricane Harvey could total $150 billion or more. As spending rises, the need to ensure that coastal towns and cities are more resilient to future, repeat disasters has come to the forefront. And, with much of the nation’s oil refining and chemical industry located in low lying coastal areas, the challenge includes fortifying energy infrastructure, and protecting communities from toxic hazards. Ellen Neises and Billy Fleming, urban policy experts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, discuss the process government uses to select and fund recovery projects, and how coastal areas can be made more resilient. Ellen Neises is Executive Director of Penn Praxis, the center for Applied Research and Planning at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Her recent work has focused on developing solutions to rebuild, protect and improve cities hit by Hurricane Sandy. Billy Fleming is Research Coordinator for the Ian L. McHarg Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, where his research focuses on climate adaptation planning along the U.S. coast. During the Obama Administration, he worked on urban policy development on the White House Domestic Policy Council. Related Content Power Down in Puerto Rico: Hot Topics on Climate Change: Comparative Pathways to Regional Energy Transition: Aligning Global Logic with Local Need:
Oct 16, 2017
The Future of the EPA and Clean Power
Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy weighs in on the fate of the Clean Power Plan, and the EPA itself, under current Administrator Scott Pruitt. --- These are challenging times at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In February of this year former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who had sued the EPA more than a dozen times to block environmental and health protections, became the agency’s Administrator. In the months since, he has called for cuts to EPA programs, sought to repeal the Clean Power Plan, and debunk science on climate change. How far will EPA leadership may go in rolling back climate protections? And, more fundamentally, can the EPA operate as an objective steward of the environment and public health in an era when politics, rather than science, increasingly appear to set its agenda? In this episode of Energy Policy Now the Honorable Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the EPA during President Barack Obama’s second term, weighs in on the EPA’s current policy direction, the Trump administration’s attack on climate science, and the practical impact of a Clean Power Plan rollback on carbon reduction. Gina McCarthy served as EPA Administrator from 2013 to 2017 under President Barack Obama. She recorded this podcast during her visit to the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, to receive the Center’s annual Carnot Prize in celebration of her contributions to environmental policy and to securing a sustainable energy future during her tenure with the EPA. She is currently Menschel Senior Fellow at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Related Content from the Kleinman Center Perry’s Regulatory Curve Ball to Bailout Baseload:’s-regulatory-curve-ball-bailout-baseload Reconciling Subsidized Resources in PJM’s Competitive Electricity Markets: Energy Storage in PJM: Hot Topics on Climate Change: Zero Emissions Credits: An Overview: Shot and Chaser: The Carbon Tax:
Oct 04, 2017
Where Coal Mining Brings Environmental Benefits
Can tightly regulated coal mining help undo decades worth of environmental damage caused by the coal industry? A Pennsylvania DEP official, and a mining executive, discuss efforts to remediate water and land in the state’s Anthracite coal region. -- Pennsylvania’s economy has long been tied to its coal industry. In the 19th century the state’s pioneering coal companies fueled America’s industrial revolution, and thousands of mining sites opened over the decades that followed. Yet, over a century later, many of Pennsylvania’s coal mines have closed as the resource’s primacy has waned. John Stefanko, Deputy Secretary for the Office of Active and Abandoned Mine Operations at Pennsylvania’s DEP, and Greg Driscoll, Chief Executive of Blaschak Coal Company, look at the environmental damage that remains after mines have been abandoned, and on cooperation between today’s coal industry, and regulators, to clean up some of that damage. The focus is on the Anthracite coal industry of Northeastern Pennsylvania, where the remains of a once large coal industry attempts to find profits, while bearing costs for cleaning up the damage of past decades. John Stefanko is Deputy Secretary for the Office of Active and Abandoned Mine Operations at Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. Related Content: The Carbon Tax: Ending Fossil Fuel Tax Subsidies: Comparative Pathways to Regional Energy Transition: Revitalizing Coal Communities:
Sep 18, 2017
The Road Forward for Electric Vehicles
The electric vehicle market seems poised to take off, with high demand for Tesla’s Model 3 and growing attention from big automakers. Yet challenges that stalled EV growth in the past, namely sparse charging infrastructure and high costs, persist. A Wharton School expert looks at the role policymakers can take to support, or sink, the EV renaissance. --- Thanks for joining the Energy Policy Now podcast for our first episode of Season 2. These are exciting times for fans of electric vehicles. Tesla, the Silicon Valley electric car maker, recently introduced its long awaited, relatively affordable Model 3, complete with a huge order backlog. Also recently, the governments of France and the UK announced their goal to phase out the sale of new gas and diesel cars within a generation, opening the door to electrics. Yet in the US the electric vehicle market has looked poised for breakthrough in the past, only to disappoint. In the 1990s General Motors developed a promising electric car, the EV1, that it subsequently sought to erase from common memory. And a century ago, around the time that Henry Ford introduced the Model T, electric cars were common. Yet they ultimately all but disappeared. John Paul MacDuffie, an expert on EV policy at the Wharton School, takes a look at policies that might help electric cars stick this time around, and at innovative government interventions that are already fueling EV markets abroad. John Paul MacDuffie is a professor of Management at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and Director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation, an international research consortium focused on the global automotive industry. Related Content from the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy: Ending Fossil Fuel Tax Subsidies Stalled: Make Big Trucks More Fuel Efficient Future Energy Demands on the Global Aviation Industry
Sep 04, 2017
Balancing the Benefits and Costs of Environmental Regulation
The Trump Administration has framed regulation as a drag on the economy and jobs. Yet how much do we really understand about the true benefits and costs of protecting the environment? Two legal and regulatory experts weigh in. --- Early in his administration, President Trump vowed to focus on rolling back regulatory oversight of the energy industry and to lift the regulatory burden on business. Conspicuously absent from two of Trump’s early executive orders targeting environmental oversight, however, was any mention of the benefits that regulation has brought in the areas of environment and health. Regulatory experts Alan Krupnick, Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future, and Cary Coglianese, Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Program on Regulation, take a look at the benefit-cost equation underlying the development of regulations, and at the actual benefits, and costs, of key policies. Alan Krupnick’s work at Resources for the Future focuses on analyzing energy and environmental issues, in particular the design of pollution and energy strategies. He was a senior economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors during the Clinton Administration, and president of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. Cary Coglianese is the Edward B. Shils Professor of Law, and Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in the study of regulation and regulatory processes and has served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. He is the founder of the Regulatory Review, the flagship publication of the Penn Program on Regulation.
Jul 11, 2017
Can Nuclear Bailouts and Electricity Markets Coexist?
Recent financial bailouts of nuclear reactors in New York and Illinois highlight the conflict between states’ environmental goals and the integrity of electricity markets. As more states weigh subsidies, debate over their market impact and legality expand. --- In 2016 New York and Illinois became the first states to provide direct subsidies to the nuclear power industry, with the goal of keeping economically uncompetitive reactors operating within their borders. The states deemed the nuclear plants, which generate electricity without producing carbon dioxide, as critical to their efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Yet the bailouts proved contentious in the two states, and the controversy over subsidies is now spreading to a handful of other states weighing similar bailouts. Opponents object to subsidies cost, and argue that they may discourage investment in other new forms of generation, such as natural gas and renewables. And the very legality of the bailouts is now being reviewed in court. In this episode, Christina Simeone, the Kleinman Center’s Director of Regulatory and External Affairs, and David Cherney, an energy industry advisor in the Energy & Utilities Practice at PA Consulting Group in Denver, will examine the roots of nuclear’s financial woes, and the widening debate around nuclear power’s role in decarbonization of the electricity sector. Christina Simeone is Director of Policy and External Affairs at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a past Director of the PennFuture Energy Center for Enterprise and Environment. She also worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and was Policy Director at the Alliance for Climate Protection. David Cherney’s work at PA Consulting Group spans public policy analysis, energy infrastructure investment, and utility strategy. He has also worked as an Adjunct Professor in Public Policy at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and as a Teaching Fellow at Yale University.
Jun 26, 2017
Climate Change and the Future of Risk
The risk models that policymakers, insurers and communities rely on to predict the nature and frequency of weather-related disasters are becoming less reliable as climate change advances. A Wharton School climate risk expert examines how we might adequately, and equitably, prepare for future disasters. --- In 2012 Hurricane Sandy caused over $70 billion in damage along the U.S. Atlantic coast, leaving communities in desperate financial condition and pushing the National Flood Insurance Program, already financially stretched by a decade of severe weather-related claims, deeper into debt. In addition, coastal cities like Miami and Norfolk, Virginia now experience regular nuisance flooding, demanding huge investments in protective infrastructure to fend off rising seas. How will the U.S. pay for infrastructure needed to minimize the impact of future disasters even as population grows in increasingly flood-prone areas? Howard Kunreuther, Co-Director of the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the challenge of balancing support for communities at risk for natural disaster with the economic and political challenges to doing so. He also highlights how human psychology can make it hard for people to grasp the likelihood of future disasters, and the role this has played in pushing the national flood insurance program to the brink of insolvency. Howard Kunreuther is the James G. Dinan professor of Decision Sciences and Business and Public Policy at the Wharton School. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis. He has served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (Episode recorded on 5/25/17)
Jun 13, 2017
The Economics of Climate Change
How much should countries spend today to avoid climate change impacts that may be far into the future? A renown economist discusses the emerging discipline of climate economics and explores means of efficiently putting mitigation funds to work. --- How much will global warming cost future generations, and how much should we pay today to avoid the damage a warming climate will cause? Economist Per Krusell, a visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and member of the Nobel Prize for Economics Committee within the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, discusses the challenge of accurately pricing future damages expected to arise from climate change, and how future costs are reflected through the social cost of carbon. Krusell also highlights how climate economics attempts to guide policymakers toward strategies that make best use of limited climate mitigation funds. Per Krusell is Professor of Economics at Stockholm University. His research focuses broadly on macroeconomics, and the impacts that result from technological change and economic policy. He’s working on a long-term project on the interaction between climate change and the economy.
May 29, 2017
Carbon Capture's Clean Coal Ambition
Carbon Capture and Storage has the potential to dramatically reduce the carbon emissions from the burning of coal. Yet the technology’s boosters need to overcome high costs, and major infrastructure challenges, if they’re to make a dent in emissions. --- Carbon capture and storage offers the promise of slashing carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, and has been touted by some in the electricity industry as part of a basket of “clean coal” technologies that will dramatically reduce the fuel’s environmental impact and provide a lifeline to the U.S. coal sector. Yet CCS is the only clean coal technology that has yet to prove feasible at a scale, and existing CCS projects are few and far between. Kleinman Center for Energy Policy senior fellow John Quigley takes a look at efforts to reduce the technology’s cost and the relative lack of government support to date for CCS. Quigley also discusses CCS’s environmental promise and whether it can be deployed in time to make a positive climate impact. Guest John Quigley served as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection from January 2015 to May 2016 and as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources from 2009 to 2011. Quigley led some of the nation’s most advanced work on the potential of Carbon Capture and Storage under former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell. He is currently a senior fellow at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.
May 15, 2017
Fossil Fuel Subsidies: Should They Stay or Should They Go?
Fossil fuel tax breaks cost the U.S. $4 billion per year. A former Treasury Department Environment and Energy official looks at whether that’s money well spent. --- The U.S. fossil fuel industry benefits from $4 billion a year in government subsidies, most in the form of tax breaks. But over the past decade debate over the need for subsidies has intensified. The energy industry argues that these subsidies promote the development of domestic energy and support oil and gas jobs. Opponents say there is little justification for subsidizing fossil fuels when government’s focus should be on clean energy and climate. And politicians from both sides of the aisle argue that the government could better use the money spent on subsidies elsewhere. Guest Gilbert Metcalf, Professor of Economics at Tufts University and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, takes a look at the real impact of subsidies on the economics of energy development, renewables and on the environment. Metcalf, who formerly served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment and Energy at the U.S. Department of Treasury, is a visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
May 02, 2017
Without the U.S., Does Paris Climate Deal Collapse?
A senior member of the U.S. State Department’s 2015 Paris climate negotiating team explores the implications of a Trump administration pullback from the agreement. --- The Trump administration has offered conflicting messages around its intention to honor U.S. commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. Still in the early days of his presidency, President Trump has launched a range of efforts to roll back domestic climate protections, most notably his recent executive order to withdraw support for the Clean Power Plan, and his promise to weaken automotive fuel economy standards. Both are essential to the U.S. meeting its Paris climate goals. Yet some voices in the administration, and within the energy industry, have urged the President to “maintain a seat at the table” of global climate dialogue. Andrew Light, former member of the U.S. State Department’s Paris climate negotiating team, explores the outlook for constructive U.S. participation in the effort to combat climate change and the fate of a global, coordinated climate effort. Andrew Light is a Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Global Climate Program at the World Resources Institute and Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at George Mason University. From 2013 to 2016 he worked for the U.S. State Department, where he was Chair of the Interagency Climate Working Group on UN Sustainable Development Goals, and he served on the senior strategy team for UN Climate Negotiations. Earlier, he was Director of International Climate Policy at the Center for American Progress.
Apr 18, 2017
The Many Fronts of Trump's Environmental Deregulation Effort
The Trump administration is leveraging an array of legal and political tools to roll back environmental protections. A U. Penn environmental law expert takes a look a Trump’s strategy, pitfalls that await, and the potential for protections to endure. -- The Trump administration is doing its best to fulfill its campaign promise to reduce environmental protections related to the energy industry and wider economy. Rollback efforts are taking place through a variety of means, including the issuance of an executive order that notably targets the Clean Power Plan, the defunding of government agencies with environmental oversight, and the use of an obscure rule that allows Congress to overturn standards issued in the final months the Obama administration. Yet the success of rollbacks isn’t assured. In some cases environmental protections exist due to legal requirement, and where rollbacks create a regulatory vacuum, new rules must take their place. University of Pennsylvania law professor Cary Coglianese explores the administration’s options to pare environmental rules and the challenges each approach is likely to face. Coglianese also takes a look at possible routes to defend protections. Cary Coglianese is professor of law and political science at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Penn Program on Regulation. He specializes in the study of regulation and regulatory processes and has served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency. He is the founder of The Regulatory Review, the flagship publication of the Penn Program on Regulation.
Apr 03, 2017
Distributed Energy: Utilities' Existential Challenge?
Distributed energy technologies like rooftop solar are eating away at electric utilities’ business. Can utilities adapt, and at what cost to consumers? -- Rooftop solar attracts homeowners with the promise of electricity savings and environmental benefits. Yet every kilowatt hour of electricity generated at home translates into an equivalent amount of electricity no longer sold by a traditional electric utility. As utilities face the prospect of flat and even declining electricity revenue, concerns over their future economic health, and the reliability of the electric power supply we’ve long taken for granted, have been called increasingly into question. Sonny Popowsky, former Consumer Advocate for Pennsylvania and advisory board member of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy explores how utilities might adapt to the challenge of distributed energy and energy efficiency, and the costs their survival could bring to ratepayers. Sonny Popowsky served as the Consumer Advocate of Pennsylvania from 1990 to 2012. He served as the President of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) from 1996 to 1998 and was previously Chairman of the NASUCA Electric Committee. Mr. Popowsky served on the Board of Trustees of the NorthAmerican Electric Reliability Council (NERC) from 1997 to 2001 and the NERC Stakeholders Committee from2001 to 2006. In 2010, Mr. Popowsky was appointed to the Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee and was named Vice Chair of that Committee in 2012. Mr. Popowsky also currently serves on the Advisory Council of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the Board of Directors of the Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia, the Executive Council of the Pennsylvania AARP, and as a pro bono member of the Certification Decision Committee of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development.
Mar 28, 2017
Clearing the Air - Carbon Tax or Cap and Trade?
Carbon taxation and carbon cap and trade have been implemented with varied success as greenhouse gas reduction strategies in recent years. Carbon taxes have gone into effect, seemingly counterintuitively, where the energy industry looms large. And cap and trade programs have operated broadly across Europe, and regionally in parts of the U.S. Energy Policy Now guest Jim Hines, Professor of economics and law at the University of Michigan, provides insight into the workings of cap and trade and carbon taxation, and explains the unique set of factors that may make one policy more politically acceptable than the other. Jim Hines is a professor of law and economics at the University of Michigan, and an editorial advisor to the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. His research is focused on various aspects of taxation. He is a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research, and research director of the International Tax Policy Forum.
Mar 14, 2017
How U.S. LNG is Changing the Global Gas Market
In 2016 the first shipment of U.S. liquefied natural gas left by tanker from a terminal on the Gulf coast. In the year since, U.S. LNG has made its way to customers around the globe, increasing competition in the gas market and threatening to loosen the grip of some suppliers on captive markets. Guest Anna Mikulska, Senior Fellow at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, talks about the globalization of the natural gas market, the competitiveness of U.S. exports and their implications for relationships abroad. Dr. Anna Mikulska is a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and nonresident scholar in energy studies at the Baker Institute’s Center for Energy Studies at Rice University. Her research interests center around European energy markets and energy policy. She has presented papers at numerous national and international conferences and co-authored articles in the European Journal of Political Research and the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, as well as a chapter in the “Introduction to American Government” textbook. Mikulska has served as a reviewer for numerous scholarly journals and was on the editorial board of the law review at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland.
Feb 28, 2017
How Alberta Overcame Discord to Enact Carbon Tax
n January 2017 Canada’s oil-rich province of Alberta took the unprecedented step of instituting a carbon tax. Combined with a cap on greenhouse emissions from the Oil Sands, the bulk of the province’s economy is now party to one of the most encompassing efforts to date in North America to address global warming. Alberta’s senior diplomatic representative to the United States, Gitane De Silva, talks about the province’s climate goals and the process by which Albertan industry, environmentalists and government found common ground to get the tax passed. Gitane De Silva is Alberta’s Senior Representative to the United States. Prior to her current appointment, she served as Deputy Minister of Alberta International and Intergovernmental Relations. Before joining the Alberta Civil Service, Ms. De Silva was Consul General of Canada in Chicago.
Feb 13, 2017
Advancing Energy Storage
New energy storage technologies are increasingly connecting to the electric grid, but it’s not clear that current rules in electricity markets are designed to help storage and new distributed energy resources (DER) participate as fully as other generation. The federal government’s electricity market regulator, FERC, has issued a notice with proposed rules that could create new opportunities for deployment and investment but also raise questions for stakeholders to address.
Jan 30, 2017
The Airline Industry Eyes its Carbon Footprint
The airline industry accounts for two percent of global carbon emissions, and emissions are likely to increase as the popularity of air travel rises. Policymakers are increasingly working with airlines to find ways to limit emissions growth. But the diverse, global industry is difficult to regulate, and competitiveness issues abound. Megan Ryerson, professor of transportation at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert in environmental impacts of the air transportation system, provides insights into the airline industry’s environmental challenges and possible strategies to address its greenhouse emissions. Dr. Megan S. Ryerson is an Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning and Electrical and Systems Engineering in the area of Transportation at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the tradeoff between economic development and environmental impacts presented by the air transportation system and the design of resilient multimodal transportation system networks. She received her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Learn more:
Jan 19, 2017
The Energy Sector Confronts Cyber Risk
In recent years cyber attacks have targeted sensitive data of multinational oil companies, downed one country’s power grid and sabotaged another’s nuclear weapons program. Despite growing risks to domestic infrastructure, U.S. energy and electricity sectors remain ill-prepared to defend themselves against cyber threats. Bill Hederman, former senior advisor to the U.S. secretary of energy and a senior fellow at the Kleinman Center, discusses cybersecurity and the roles of industry and government in confronting security challenges. Guest Bill Hederman most recently served as senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, providing leadership on USDOE missions to Ukraine, the Baltics, and Germany.  He is the chief architect behind the analytic framework developed for DOE's groundbreaking Quadrennial Energy Review.  During the Enron and California crises, Hederman joined FERC and formed the Office of Market Oversight and Investigations, which has been credited with playing a major role in the restoration of confidence in electricity and natural gas regulatory oversight. Learn more:
Jan 16, 2017
Walking the Tightrope: Energy Development and the Environment
Explosive development of shale resources has breathed new economic life into communities across the United States, current low gas prices notwithstanding. But how might individual states balance fossil energy-driven economic development with environmental protection? Former Pennsylvania DEP Secretary and coal-town Mayor John Quigley discusses his state’s political juggling of energy and environmental concerns, and the prospects for environmental progress should policymakers roll back fossil fuel regulations. Guest John Quigley served as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection from January 2015 to May 2016 and as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources from 2009 to 2011. He is the first and only person in Pennsylvania history to serve as Secretary of both of the state's natural resource agencies. Quigley also served as a two-term mayor of Hazleton, PA. He is currently a senior fellow at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. Learn more:
Jan 09, 2017
20 Years of Electricity Restructuring in Pennsylvania
Twenty years ago Pennsylvania opened its electricity sector to competition and the promise of cheaper and more reliable service. Two decades later, competitive markets have mostly delivered, but with notable caveats. Former Pennsylvania Secretary of Policy and Planning and DEP Head John Hangar, and the Kleinman Center Policy Director Christina Simeone examine the benefits and shortcomings of two decades of wholesale and retail electric competition. Their findings appear in their recently published report, “A Case Study of Electricity Competition Results in Pennsylvania”, which is available for download at . Guest John Hangar has held four public offices and was a Democratic candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania. He works in the private sector as a legal services attorney and is the founder of an environmental non-profit organization. Christina Simeone is the director of policy and external affairs at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Learn more:
Jan 03, 2017