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Tim Profeta is the founding director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The Nicholas Institute is part of Duke University and focuses on improving environmental policy making worldwide through objective, fact-based research in the areas of climate change, the economics of limiting carbon pollution, oceans governance and coastal management, emerging environmental markets and freshwater concerns at home and abroad.

In his role at the Nicholas Institute, Profeta has continued to use his experience on Capitol Hill to engage in climate change debates. His research has focused, specifically, on market-based approaches to environmental regulations—particularly energy and climate change policy. Other projects engage his expertise in environmental law and air pollution regulation under the Clean Air Act.

Trump Nominates CEQ Lead

President Donald Trump last week nominated Kathleen Hartnett White, a former Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) commissioner, to serve as head of the Council on Environmental Quality. If confirmed, White who is presently a distinguished senior fellow in residence and director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and Environment at the Texas Public Policy…

Trump Administration Repeals Clean Power Plan

The Trump administration on Tuesday issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that calls for the Clean Power Plan, which sets state-by-state carbon reduction targets for power plants, to be repealed. “The Obama administration pushed the bounds of their authority so far with the CPP that the Supreme Court issued a historic stay of the rule, preventing its devastating effects to…

DOE Secretary Proposes Rule to Aid Coal, Nuclear Plants

In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed that FERC change its rules to help coal and nuclear plants compete in wholesale power markets. The change would mandate that plants capable of storing 90 days of fuel supplies at their sites get increased payments for electricity. The plan may represent the Trump…

Trump Administration Poised to Finalize Clean Power Plan Review, Craft Climate Policy Strategy

A Trump administration review of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which sets state-by-state carbon reduction targets for power plants, is expected to be finalized this fall, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a court filing last week. The EPA was expected do away with the signature climate regulation, which the Supreme Court…

Studies Examine Climate Change Threat Level, Recalculate Carbon Budget

Absent efforts well beyond those described in the Paris Agreement—to limit warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit that increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius—climate change could pose a deadly threat to most humans by century’s end. This finding was suggested by an international group of climate science…

Senate Approves Funding for U.N. Climate Agency; House Votes on Funding for Methane Rule

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16 to 14 to approve an amendment to restore funding for the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in a spending bill for the State Department, setting up a negotiation with the House over its version of the State funding bill, which does not fund the U.N. climate agency. “[This]…

Hurricanes Increase Attention to Climate Change, Shed Light on Infrastructure Concerns

Hurricane Irma is shaping up to be a potentially catastrophic storm that remains on course to hit Florida by Sunday. Coming immediately after Hurricane Harvey, Irma is increasing attention to the relationship of severe weather events to climate change. Throughout the past few decades, hurricanes in particular have drawn attention to the need to fight climate change,…

Harvey Shines Light on Issue of Climate Change

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas last week, dumping more than 50 inches of rain in parts of Houston, the fourth largest U.S. city. After drifting back out over the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm, Harvey made a second landfall near the Texas and Louisiana border Wednesday. By the time this extreme storm dissipates, damage is expected to be in the tens of…

Grid Reliability Study Released as Climate Change Panel Disbands

The U.S. Department of Energy, on Wednesday night, released its electric grid reliability study, finding that the greatest driver of baseload power plant retirements was cheap natural gas followed by flat power demand, environmental regulations and the growing penetration of renewables on the grid. Requested by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry in April, the study was intended to report on…

EPA, DOT Reviewing Fuel Economy Standards

In a Federal Register notice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation announced they were considering rewriting emissions standards for cars and light trucks made between 2022 and 2025. The review covers vehicle model years 2022 to 2025. The EPA is also seeking comments on whether fuel standards for the 2021 model year “are appropriate.” The public…

Federal Science Report Finds Human Activity Does Influence Climate Change

A draft report on the science of climate change estimates that it is “extremely likely” that more than half of the rise in temperatures over the past four decades has been caused by human activity. This activity, it estimates, is responsible an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010. “Many lines of evidence demonstrate…

Court Rules Industry Must Comply with Methane Regulation

On Monday, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia order directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to carry out an Obama-era rule that sets methane pollution limits for the oil and gas industry. Nine of the 11 court judges issued the order upholding a July ruling that found that the Trump administration overstepped its authority under the Clean…

Hydraulic Fracturing Rule Suggested for Repeal

The Trump administration is proposing to repeal a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule aimed at ensuring hydraulic fracturing does not pollute water supplies, claiming that it triggers unjustified compliance costs and duplicates state rules. “Upon further review of the 2015 final rule … the BLM believes that the 2015 final rule unnecessarily burdens industry with compliance…

California Extends Its Cap-and-Trade Program

In a 28–12 vote on Monday night, California’s Senate approved AB 398 to extend the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program to 2030. Hours later, the bill passed in the state’s Assembly, 55–21. Lawmakers also approved a companion measure, AB 617, aimed at reducing pollution that causes local public health problems. In addition, to win GOP support in the Assembly for the cap-and-trade program, the Legislature passed a constitutional amendment giving Republicans increased input in how the state spends revenues from the sale of emissions allowances—permits to pollute—by requiring, in 2024, a two-thirds vote to approve how they are used.

Extension of California’s Cap-and-Trade Program Entails Tough Balancing Act

On Monday California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders released a plan to extend through 2030 the state’s cap-and-trade program, which limits carbon emissions and requires polluters to buy allowances for greenhouse gas emissions—that is, permits to pollute. The deal updates how carbon emitters can use pollution allowances and offsets, empowers the California Air Resources…