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Natural gas combustion and the consequential release of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases can have very damaging effects on the environment. Recognizing this, a number of analysts have expressed concern that continued use of natural gas will hamper efforts to address climate change, and called for reductions in gas use. This will require major changes in energy consumption patterns, particularly in the residential and commercial sectors, which currently use over one-quarter of all natural gas consumed in the U.S., primarily for heating and cooking.This paper considers whether and how new technologies can be used to promote more efficient natural gas use in the residential and commercial sectors. The focus is on advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), consisting of state-of-the-art meters capable of recording natural gas usage daily or hourly, and transmitting the data to customers in real-time via a wireless network. In addition to this, this paper draws on recent experience with AMI deployment in California, Maryland, and New York to assess how the regulation of local distribution company (LDC) rates affects incentives to invest in AMI.
As the scale, speed, and implications of climate change come into focus, stakeholders in the electricity sector are finding it increasingly difficult to turn a blind eye. However, many have opted to attend to climate impacts in a piecemeal fashion, merely responding to particular extreme events- or types of extreme events, such as coastal storms or floods- and failing to consider the larger phenomenon. This is true of the bulk power system (BPS) in regions overseen by Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Organizations (collectively, ISO-RTOs), none of which have comprehensively assessed their system's vulnerabilities to climate change. Lacking such assessments, ISO/RTOs cannot plan for the impacts of climate change, and thereby ensure the continued reliability and resilience of the BPS. This paper offers ISO/RTOs advice on how to plan for climate change and identifies resources and processes they could employ in the planning process. In addition to this, the authors offer six specific recommendations for all ISO/RTOs to follow in order to properly plan for climate change.
The legal environment for local government in Florida is beginning to change when it comes to sea-level rise. Innovations in institutional structure and governance strategies are underway in the State as well. This paper reviews three recent developments, which relate primarily to comprehensive planning in the State, and explores their implications for Florida’s local governments, among others. It begins with the State’s decision, in 2011 legislation, to give local governments a new, optional tool – referred to as “Adaptation Action Areas” – to address sea-level rise and related issues in local comprehensive plans. The paper then turns to a second piece of Florida legislation, this one enacted in 2015, which also identifies sea-level rise as a concern but this time mandates that local governments begin to address it and other causes of flood-related risks through their comprehensive planning process. Finally, the paper discusses a third initiative, launched in 2009 by four Southeast Florida counties – Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe – to foster local government and regional coordination on sea-level rise and other climate change issues
For decades, federal energy and water efficiency standards have demonstrably saved consumers money, reduced pollution, and increased grid reliability. Recently, however, the political winds have shifted. Immediately upon taking office, the Trump Administration refused to publish in the Federal Register several efficiency standards that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had promulgated in 2016, and has proposed budget cuts to the parts of DOE responsible for administering the appliance and equipment standards program. With the federal advancement of energy efficiency in doubt, leadership on this issue may fall to state and local actors. This white paper examines how the Energy Policy and Conversation Act (“EPCA”), and the DOE regulations promulgated thereunder, prevent states and cities from outlawing the sale or use of inefficient appliances and equipment. It surveys existing state efficiency laws that cover products beyond federal jurisdiction, and discusses several steps states can take to advance appliance and equipment efficiency in the wake of Washington’s inaction.
Reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is vital to mitigate climate change. To date reduction efforts have primarily focused on minimizing the production of carbon dioxide during electricity generation, transport, and other activities. Going forward, to the extent that carbon dioxide continues to be produced, it will need to be captured before release. Research is currently being undertaken into the possibility of injecting carbon dioxide into the seabed. One study aims to identify possible injection sites in the seabed along the northeast coast of the U.S. It is anticipated that, following identification of suitable sites, a demonstration project will be undertaken to assess the feasibility of offshore CCS. This paper outlines key regulatory requirements for the demonstration project and any subsequent commercial operations.
New York City, like other cities that built combined sewer systems in the early twentieth century, is embarking on the reconfiguration of its approach to stormwater management- one that shifts away from exclusive reliance on "grey infrastructure" (asphalt, pipes, tunnels) to greater reliance on "green infrastructure" ( green roofs, rain gardens, permeable pavements). That reconfiguration will entail physical changes as well as changes to the regulation and financing of stormwater management. This paper describes this reconfiguration in four sections. The first provides an overview of the problems confronting New York City as a result of existing stormwater management infrastructure and regulation, and also summarizes the City's current green infrastructure goals. The second section summarizes the benefits and costs that are expected to accompany GI in the the New York City context. The third describes the City's goals for creating GI on public and private property. Finally, the fourth section examines the knotty administrative and legal issues involved in using public money to increase the volume of GI on private property.
Climate change and its effects on temperature, precipitation, storm patterns, sea level rise, and other environmental processes have important implications for the construction, maintenance, and operation of buildings and infrastructure. One way to prepare for these impacts is to incorporate climate change projections into the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of proposed development and infrastructure projects. However, the scope and depth of this analysis vary substantially across different agencies and projects, and it is still very rare for an agency to conduct an in-depth assessment of how climate change may impact a project and its surrounding environment. More specific guidelines or protocols would help to promote consistency in agency practice and ensure that agencies are adequately accounting for the impacts of climate change when conducting environmental reviews. The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law has therefore developed a set of model protocols for assessing the impacts of climate change on the built environment under NEPA and state EIA laws. This paper summarizes the empirical and legal research underpinning this project.
Government agencies are often required to conduct some form of environmental impact assessment (EIA) before approving a major project or proposal. The documents generated during these assessments contain a wealth of information about baseline environmental conditions, impact assessment methodologies, predicted impacts, and mitigation measures, among other things. Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) are now routinely posted on online databases as searchable PDFs, which is a vast improvement over hard copy circulation. These databases make it easier to find and download specific documents, but they are limited in scope and they lack certain features that would make it much easier to aggregate and synthesize information across multiple documents, such as a full text search feature. This paper considers how a multi-disciplinary research community can build upon these efforts to further enhance online access to EIA documents and make it easier for the public to use the information contained in those documents.
In September 2014, New York enacted the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA), which requires in part that the New York Department of State and the Department of Environmental Conservation create model local laws relating to climate adaptation for use by local governments. In an effort to assist the State with drafting model local laws for adaptation; to encourage the State to incorporate a broad range of adaptation strategies, including retreat from areas of high flood risk; and to assist local governments with implementation of these programs. The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law has assembled existing and suggested local law provisions that reflect diverse approaches to adaptation to climate-enhance flood risk. This document is a collection of useful statutory options- one that takes note of local law provisions enacted by local governments in New York, as well as relevant state laws enacted in New York and other jurisdictions. This paper is organized into three sections: Permitting Review, Targeted Development Restrictions and Prudent Development, and Protection/Armoring.
U.S. cities and states are increasingly asking how they can play a more visible and active role in international climate change efforts. Cities and states have obvious incentives to take action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, but participation on an international level is also essential. This paper highlights a variety of ways in which U.S. cities and states can reflect their climate-related commitments on an international scale. Specifically, the author points to the Paris Agreement, the 'NAZCA' Portal, Global Covenant of Mayors, U.S.- China Cities Initiative, Under2 Mou Initiative, and the California Summit for ways in which this goal can be met.