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Aug. 4, 2022 by Sophie Loeb

Duke Energy Carbon Plan Hearing: Authentic Community Engagement Lacking

On July 27, I had the privilege of testifying at the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) public hearing regarding the Duke Energy Carbon Plan. The Asheville hearing was one of six forums designated for public witness testimony on the proposed decarbonization plan.

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In 2019, North Carolina joined 34 other states investing in solar, wind, and other renewable resources when it passed its Clean Energy Power Plan, and, in 2021, when it passed House Bill 951, which commits to a 70 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. When Duke Energy, a major corporation with outsized influence over the state’s decarbonization plan, submitted its proposal to meet those goals, it failed to account for affordability and equity.

The company and NCUC have also not meaningfully engaged with low-wealth ratepayers in the process. These public hearings are intended to promote community engagement; however, the extent to which they have been successful in reaching low-wealth ratepayers is a point of concern. The Asheville hearing was case in point.

Prior to the hearing, local organizers and climate advocates rallied outside the Buncombe County courthouse, imploring Duke Energy toward a cleaner carbon plan grounded in renewable energy. “Tell Duke Energy we …

July 27, 2022 by James Goodwin
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This op-ed was originally published in The Hill, and the full version is available on the paper's website. It was published before Sens. Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer announced their deal on the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Biden administration’s path forward on climate change — as the widely deployed metaphor goes — has become more difficult with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in West Virginia vs. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) apparent veto of a reconciliation package that contains climate measures. If the Biden administration is to successfully navigate that path — and it must if we are to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis — the president will need to abandon the “compass” that his predecessors have relied on for decades to guide their policy agenda: Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review.

First issued in 1994, the …

July 25, 2022 by Thomas McGarity, Wendy Wagner
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This op-ed was originally published by The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission.

Law professors dream of the day when the U.S. Supreme Court will rely on one of their publications for a proposition that is crucial to the outcome of an important case. What better validation of all the blood, sweat, and tears that were poured into the publication? What a surge of power to discover that their work has had an impact, if only in the context of a single lawsuit. What an existential high to know that they have finally arrived at the pinnacle.

We experienced none of those emotions when reading Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion in West Virginia v. EPA. The citations to our work were both minor and innocuous, so that fact helps allay any sense of accomplishment. But equally significant, the Court's analysis bears little relationship to our own understanding …

July 20, 2022 by Daniel Farber
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This is the second part of a post that was originally published on Legal Planet. The first part ran on July 19. Reprinted with permission.

What Legal Authority Would an Emergency Climate Declaration Give the President?

What government powers would be unlocked by declaring a climate change emergency? One immediate possibility would be to use the same power that former President Trump used to divert military construction funds to other uses — in this case, perhaps building wind or solar farms or new transmission lines. But what else could President Biden do?

The Brennan Center has compiled a helpful list of almost 150 statutes giving the president special powers during emergencies. The list doesn’t map the outer perimeter of presidential powers — there are other laws that give presidents powers to take action on the basis of national security, and the president also has some ill-defined, though not …

July 19, 2022 by Daniel Farber
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This is the first part of a post that was originally published on Legal Planet. Click to read Part II. Reprinted with permission.

Based on press reports, it now seems likely that President Joe Biden will soon declare climate change to be a national emergency. Would this be legal? Would it unlock important powers that could be used to fight climate change? My answers are: It would probably be legal, and it would unlock some significant powers. But an emergency declaration is not a magic wand that gives presidents a blank check. It would allow some constructive steps to be taken, but within limits.

I wrote several blog posts about the idea of a climate emergency in 2019. Back then, interest in presidential emergency powers had been sparked by former President Trump’s use of emergency power to help build his border wall. I’ve adapted the …

July 13, 2022 by Hannah Klaus
Solar Energy and Electricity

Duke Energy, a major corporation with near-monopoly control over North Carolina’s electric grid, has outsized influence over the state’s decarbonization plan, which is now under review. The state legislature ordered the utility commission to make a 70 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Duke Energy has submitted a plan to the commission to meet those goals, but the plan fails to take affordability and equity into full account. What’s worse: Low-wealth people aren’t required — or, in many cases, even able — to participate in the planning process. They’re shut out.

For too many low-wealth North Carolina residents, energy bills are already too high. These communities have contributed little to climate change, but they face steep increases in electricity rates as the planet heats up and storms become more frequent and severe. There is a better …

July 7, 2022 by Alice Kaswan
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The Center for Progressive Reform has joined close to 1,000 organizations and individuals in providing comments on California's long-awaited plan for achieving carbon neutrality, the Draft 2022 Scoping Plan Update (Draft Plan). Gov. Gavin Newsom gave the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the state agency tasked with coordinating the plan, a daunting challenge: achieving carbon neutrality by 2045 at the latest.

Our comments conclude that the state should (1) be more ambitious, (2) more explicitly achieve multiple objectives, including environmental justice, and (3) develop a supplemental plan that more specifically outlines the policy tools the state will employ to achieve its objectives.

Reduce Reliance on Fossil Fuels More Quickly

The Draft Plan's 2045 timeline — spanning more than two decades — will perpetuate fossil fuel use and associated pollution. The plan proposes deadlines for ending the sale of fossil-fuel based goods, like trucks, cars, and appliances, but assumes …

June 30, 2022 by Robert Fischman
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In West Virginia v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court slayed a phantom, a regulation that does not exist. Why? The justices in the majority could not contain their zeal to hollow out the EPA’s ability to lessen suffering from climate change in ways that impinge the profits of entrenched fossil fuel interests.

In doing so, the activist justices reached out to interpret the Clean Air Act despite the Court’s traditional restraint in deciding only cases where plaintiffs suffering individualized harm present a focused, redressable dispute. The Court has been particularly strict in foreclosing judicial review when environmental plaintiffs complain about prospective rules and actions. But today’s decision eagerly engaged with the speculative harms presented by West Virginia and coal companies. They were not harmed by a regulation that never took effect and that never will be implemented.

In its “what if” analysis, the …

June 22, 2022 by Catalina Gonzalez
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On June 23, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will hold its first public hearing on its draft plan (the Draft 2022 Scoping Plan) for achieving the state's climate goals and for getting to carbon neutrality no later than 2045. Including actions that prioritize California's overburdened and underserved communities will be vital to the success of the proposed plan.

Many across the state are expressing concern that the proposed course of action in the draft plan will be too slow, achieving carbon neutrality by 2045 instead of by 2035, the earlier target Gov. Gavin Newsom directed the agency to consider. Although the proposed approach would reduce the demand for and use of fossil fuels significantly, it would allow existing oil and gas industry activities that disproportionately harm low-income communities of color to continue indefinitely.

Environmental …

June 22, 2022 by Alice Kaswan
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On June 23, California's Air Resources Board (CARB) — the state's air pollution control agency — is holding a public hearing on its comprehensive roadmap for achieving the state's daunting climate goal: carbon neutrality by 2045 at the latest, a goal established by Gov. Gavin Newsom in a 2018 executive order.

Although states are increasingly adopting 100 percent clean electricity targets, California's goal goes considerably farther, covering emissions from the entire economy, including transportation, industry, buildings, waste disposal, and agriculture. With its Draft 2022 Scoping Plan Update (Draft Scoping Plan), the state has now set pen to paper in sketching potential pathways for zeroing out the state's greenhouse gas emissions.

The Draft Scoping Plan provides a general overview of four scenarios by which the state might reach "net zero" emissions. The Draft Scoping Plan includes few details …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Aug. 4, 2022

Duke Energy Carbon Plan Hearing: Authentic Community Engagement Lacking

July 27, 2022

Op-Ed: Manchin and the Supreme Court Told Biden to Modernize Regulatory Review — Will He Listen?

July 25, 2022

Do Not Blame Us

July 20, 2022

Declaring a Climate Change Emergency: A Citizen’s Guide, Part II

July 19, 2022

Declaring a Climate Change Emergency: A Citizen’s Guide, Part I

July 13, 2022

North Carolina Climate Plan Must Include Clean, Affordable Energy for Underserved Residents

July 7, 2022

Center for Progressive Reform Comments to California: Adopt More Ambitious Carbon Neutrality Plan