CPR Archive for Joseph Tomain

Nudging Utilities Into the Future

by Joseph Tomain | October 01, 2015

Two of the most important aspects of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) are the flexibility afforded states as they design compliance strategies and the plan’s openness to all energy resources. A state can satisfy its emission-reduction targets through the use of cleaner or more efficient coal-fired generation, natural gas or nuclear power as well as through increased use of renewable resources and energy efficiency. Regardless of this flexibility and openness, investor-owned utilities (IOUs), which have dominated the electricity market for more than a century, tend to resist the imposition of additional environmental regulations. Some resistance is predictable as utilities have sunk trillions of dollars of investments into the construction of generation, transportation and distribution networks..

While this resistance may be understandable, there are two significant rebuttal arguments to it. First, utilities have demonstrated remarkable resilience, particularly over the last three or more decades, to dramatic challenges to the traditional electricity industry. Second, public policy and state regulation have, for almost as long, promoted a clean energy economy. The CPP continues developing that clean economy and utilities have a role to play in a cleaner energy future. Let’s look at both of these points more closely.             

Challenging the Electric Industry

The electricity industry has been roiling for three or more decades.[1] For the first two thirds of the 20th century, the industry continued to realize ...

From Energy Consumerism to Democratic Energy Participation

by Joseph Tomain | September 02, 2015
The essence of the argument that a new energy and environmental politics is needed is based on the idea that our traditional energy path (as well as its underlying assumptions) has outlived its useful life; the traditional energy narrative is stale. Cheap, but dirty, fossil fuel energy has played a significant role in contributing to economic growth and to the political authority of the United States for most of the 20th century.  By the end of the century, however, the ...

Katrina and the Democratization of Energy

by Joseph Tomain | August 28, 2015
Natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina,[1] Superstorm Sandy,[2] and the typhoon that devastated Fukushima,[3] as well as technical weaknesses that caused the Northeast blackout in October 2003,[4] and regulatory failures that ended California electric industry restructuring efforts[5] share two commonalities.  First, they all affect the energy system at enormous costs in economic losses and in disrupted lives.[6] Indeed, severe weather events are the leading source of electricity grid disturbances in the US with 679 widespread power outages between 2003 in 2012. Those outages have been estimated ...

Clean Energy Politics

by Joseph Tomain | June 09, 2014
The EPA’s June 2, 2014 announcement of a Clean Power Plan is momentous. On the surface, its scope, complexity, potential for myriad legal challenges and, not to mention, the difficulty of gathering reliable cost and benefit data, make it so. Mothers should advise their children to grow up to be energy lawyers, not cowboys.  However, what makes this proposed rule more significant are the below the surface core principles and concepts that make the Clean Power Plan a game changer for ...

US Chamber of Commerce: More of the Same

by Joseph Tomain | January 27, 2014
Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report entitled Energy Works for US: Solutions for America’s Energy Future.  The data and references in the report are largely accurate, as far as they go, and the report promotes energy efficiency, which is a welcome step.  Ultimately, though, the report is unreliable because it has too narrow a vision of the energy future.  It inaccurately characterizes government regulation and neglects the environmental consequences surrounding the production, use, consumption, and disposal of ...

The clean energy wager

by Joseph Tomain | January 08, 2014
In his 2013 book, The Bet, Yale historian Paul Sabin uses Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon as foils to explain today’s dysfunctional and polarized politics surrounding energy development and environmental protection. In 1980, Ehrlich and Simon bet each other on the price of five minerals (chromium, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten.) Ehrlich, a neo-Malthusian, and father of Zero Population Growth, believed that thoughtless and unconstrained consumption of natural resources by an ever-expanding human population would literally doom the planet.  Ehrlich posited ...

Nuclear Power and Clean Energy Policy

by Joseph Tomain | March 01, 2013
As we consider designing a future clean energy policy, nuclear power cannot be ignored because of its near zero carbon emissions even when considering the entire nuclear fuel cycle.  It is also the case that public opinion of nuclear power has been increasingly positive, largely for those environmental reasons, though certainly it decreased after the accident at the Daiichi plant in Fukushima, Japan.  Nevertheless, a strong argument can be made that nuclear power should not be considered as a clean resource ...

Natural Gas in the Big Picture:

by Joseph Tomain | February 26, 2013
With advancements in hydraulic fracturing technology, shale gas has dramatically altered domestic energy in the United States.  Some commentators claim that shale gas can address all of our major energy problems. Some consider natural gas a bridge fuel to a clean energy future.  Bills in Congress proposing a federal “Clean Energy Standard” have included natural gas as a qualifying “clean” fuel source. President Obama’s recent State of the Union address emphasized natural gas and renewable energy as important to reshaping ...

The Romney-Ryan Energy Plan: Back to States' Rights

by Joseph Tomain | August 23, 2012
Based on what the Romney-Ryan team has said so far on energy, I expected their energy plan today would be something like the National Energy Policy of 2001, delivered by Vice President Dick Cheney four months after George W. Bush’s inauguration.  I thought that their energy plan would simply be a retread of old thinking, much like their education policies.  But today’s plan goes to a whole new level. The 2001 plan, famously developed behind closed doors, predicted a 30% ...

Energy Policy and the 2012 Presidential Campaign

by Joseph Tomain | August 21, 2012
Earlier this month, the Senate Finance Committee reported out a bill that would extend production tax credits for the wind industry, in addition to providing other tax benefits for the construction of new energy-efficient homes, energy efficient appliances, and biofuels.  These are all positive efforts that serve as investments in the necessary transition to a clean energy future.  Yet meanwhile, the Presidential campaign rhetoric on this issue, and on energy policy more broadly,  is as predictable as it is disappointing. ...

Repealing Oil and Gas Subsidies to Fund the Jobs Bill: Good Policy Any Way You Look at It

by Joseph Tomain | October 03, 2011
This post was written by Member Scholars Kirsten Engel, William Funk, and Joseph Tomain, and Policy Analyst Wayland Radin. The President’s recently announced American Jobs Act would be partially funded by repealing oil and gas subsidies, including subsidies in the forms of tax credits and exemptions. Eliminating these unnecessary and harmful subsidies would be a long overdue step toward sound climate and energy policies. Oil and gas subsidies cost American taxpayers billions of dollars every year, but have long since ceased to ...

Tomain on Obama Energy/Environment Team

by Joseph Tomain | December 16, 2008
President-elect Obama’s announcement of his energy team clearly signals a dramatic change from the energy policy of all past presidents not only from the past administration. This team will oversee a new direction for future energy policy, especially pertaining to climate change.   With these appointments and in his remarks, the President-elect identifies several strong themes for future energy and environmental policy including: (1) A commitment to expanding the economy while protecting the environment; (2) creating a government office merging ...

Also from Joseph Tomain

Joseph P. Tomain is Dean Emeritus and the Wilbert & Helen Ziegler Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Nudging Utilities Into the Future

Tomain | Oct 01, 2015 | Energy

From Energy Consumerism to Democratic Energy Participation

Tomain | Sep 02, 2015 | Regulatory Policy

Katrina and the Democratization of Energy

Tomain | Aug 28, 2015 | Regulatory Policy

Clean Energy Politics

Tomain | Jun 09, 2014 | Environmental Policy

US Chamber of Commerce: More of the Same

Tomain | Jan 27, 2014 | Regulatory Policy
Recommended Resources:
Clean Energy
Renewable Energy Instead of Fossil Fuels

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