The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing on the Supreme Court case, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is considering whether the EPA's authority to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions of new motor vehicles also extends to stationary sources, such as existing power plants. The case is the result of six separate challenges to EPA authority from industry groups and 12 states. On February 24, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the consolidated case.
Speakers for this forum were:
Michael B. Gerrard, Professor, Columbia Law School; Director, Columbia Center for Climate Change Law
Download Michael Gerrard's slides: files.eesi.org/MichaelGerrard0...
This briefing examined the arguments brought forth on February 24 and what can be derived from the line of questioning by the Justices. What is and is not at stake in this case, and what are the potential outcomes of the Court's decision? What does the relatively narrow focus of the case, despite a much broader challenge, mean for future judicial challenges to EPA's regulatory authority concerning greenhouse gases?
In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts vs. EPA that the environmental agency has the authority, under the Clean Air Act, to regulate greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. The case specifically concerned regulating emissions from motor vehicles. In 2010, EPA issued rules imposing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from refineries and plants being expanded or modernized. The agency argues that since the Supreme Court determined that greenhouse gases are pollutants and are, therefore, covered by the Clean Air Act, its regulatory authority extends to the stationary sources (factories, power plants, and other structures) that are subject to permitting requirements in the Act, in addition to motor vehicles.
Fifteen states, including New York, California and Maryland, support the EPA's determination and believe the Clean Air Act gives the executive branch sufficient discretion to address new environmental threats to the atmosphere as they are identified by researchers. The D.C. Circuit, which reviewed the case before it reached the Supreme Court, also sided with the EPA. However, the plaintiffs object, arguing that EPA's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by stationary sources is "one of the most brazen power grabs ever attempted by an administrative agency" (according to the court brief filed by the 12 petitioning states).
In a separate Supreme Court case on December 17, 2013, the Justices heard arguments on EPA's authority, also under the Clean Air Act, to regulate power plant emissions which cross state lines. The Court's decisions on both cases are expected in July 2014.
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing on the emerging public-policy issue of resiliency. There is a growing, bipartisan call for urgent action to improve the resiliency of cities, communities and critical systems. Thousands of homes, buildings and other infrastructure have been damaged or completely destroyed by powerful hurricanes, tornadoes and floods in recent years. The severe drought in the Southwest is wreaking havoc in other ways and prompting widespread restrictions on water use.
Jake Oster, Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)
Cooper Martin, Director, Resilient Communities, American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Download Cooper Martin's slides: files.eesi.org/CooperMartin022...
Debra Ballen, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS)
Download Debra Ballen's slides: files.eesi.org/DebraBallen0227...
Is it possible to have "strong" and "green" buildings that withstand hurricane-force winds, conserve energy and water, and remain operational during a power outage? If model building codes help ensure minimum levels of quality, health, safety and energy efficiency in new homes and buildings, why are there so many communities without basic building codes? How can we improve our existing buildings? In this briefing, experts in architecture and building science, risk management, and energy policy addressed these and other questions as well as related pending legislation, community initiatives, and tangible strategies and solutions for improving the resilience of our buildings.
By addressing the costs and benefits of resilient, sustainable buildings, this briefing will begin to explore the broader issue of risk management and the costs of not adequately preparing for natural and manmade hazards, water shortages, rising fuel costs, power outages, and climate change. According to NOAA, since 1980, the United States has had 151 weather/climate disasters that reached or exceeded $1 billion in damage. Seven of these events occurred in 2013. With FEMA in debt from large and repeated payouts for disaster assistance, various private insurance and reinsurance companies are beginning to address climate-change mitigation and adaptation by investing in measures to create more resilient buildings and infrastructure.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014——The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing on The Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census 2013, which found record growth in the U.S. solar industry.
The Census, which is based on over 75,000 phone calls and emails to solar industry employers, determined that the solar industry grew at ten times the national average last year, creating 24,000 new jobs. Survey respondents cited declining equipment costs as the primary driver behind the industry's remarkable growth and were optimistic about creating new jobs in 2014. Since the start of the annual Census in 2010, U.S. solar industry employment has increased 53 percent and now employs more than 142,000 Americans.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014——The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing discussing American perceptions of climate change following a new in-depth survey conducted in December 2013 by Resources for the Future, Stanford University, and USA Today. For the first time, the survey explored in detail the public's attitudes toward generating electricity from various sources.
Professor Jon Krosnick, Frederic O. Glover Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences, Stanford University; Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
Selected survey results: rff.org/climatesurvey2013
The Honorable Phil Sharp, President, Resources for the Future (RFF); former Chair of the House of Representatives Energy Subcommittee
Initial results from the survey were featured in the December 20 issue of USA Today, but Dr. Krosnick presented a wide array of additional results, including whether the public believes climate change has been happening, what should and should not be done about it, whether the public supports or opposes specific government policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and more. RFF President Phil Sharp discussed the poll results in the context of the current U.S. climate and energy policy landscape.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Krosnick has been studying how the American public's political attitudes are formed, change, and shape thinking and action. A world-recognized expert on the psychology of attitudes, especially in the area of politics, he has been the co-principal investigator of the American National Election Study, the nation's preeminent research project exploring voter decision-making.
Phil Sharp became President of Resources for the Future in September 2005. He served 10 terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana (1975-1995) before joining the faculty of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. From 2002-2010, Sharp was Congressional chair of the bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy.
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing hosted in coordination with the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus on the best energy source of all: energy efficiency. There is no cheaper, cleaner energy than energy that isn't needed. Not only does energy efficiency save money and reduce emissions, it also promotes innovation and creates jobs in a large value chain that spans the country, making our economy stronger and more competitive. Speakers:
The United States is already much more efficient than it was 40 years ago, when the first oil crisis hit. It takes about 52 percent less energy to produce the same amount of GDP than it took in 1973. And we can do even better. In a 2012 study, ACEEE ranked the world's 12 major economies (including Brazil, China and Germany) based on how energy efficient they were. The United States came in ninth.
Our speakers discussed some of the innovative solutions businesses have developed to cut their energy usage, and to design highly energy efficient products and services for our buildings and industrial sectors. They also considered what policymakers can do to further promote energy efficiency gains.
Several energy efficiency bills have been introduced and are currently before Congress.