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What the market is telling us about coal

Dan Farber, professor of law | August 13, 2015

The market’s message is simple: coal’s day is ending. Three major coal companies (Alpha Natural Resources, Walter Energy, and Patriot Coal) have gone into bankruptcy. The two largest publicly traded  companies (Peabody and Arch) are now trading for a dollar a share, down from $16 and $33 within the past year. They, too, may well … Continue reading »

Mountaintop mining rule evokes protest firestorm. #getagrip

Dan Farber, professor of law | July 23, 2015

Political polarization has gotten to the point where there would be immediate denunciations if the President issued a proclamation honoring apple pie. Another intrusion into consumer choice, besmirching those who prefer cherry and pumpkin! Another blatant overreach by an out-of-control, incipient tyrant! Not only is every executive action accompanied by loud resistance, but the same explosion of … Continue reading »

Energy options: Just say ‘Nein’ to nukes and coal?

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | June 2, 2015

On March 11, 2011, I was sitting in a coffee shop in Berlin, dressed appropriately in a black turtleneck and leather jacket, reading about the terrible Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster. The next day I read that the German government was pushing for “Atomausstieg,” which is German for “let’s retire all nuclear generating capacity.” Eighty percent of … Continue reading »

The ‘Yoga Theorem’ and the EPA’s new carbon-emissions policy

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | June 5, 2014

With the historical release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon emissions policy, I took an extra day to comb through and digest the news. I have organized my intermediate microeconomics class around something called the “Yoga Theorem.” This almost universal truth states that the less flexible you are, the more you will suffer.  It holds … Continue reading »

Will smog in China spur climate solutions?

Catherine Wolfram, faculty co-director, Energy Institute at Haas | April 23, 2014

I have read a number of news stories about air pollution in the major Chinese cities recently. A soupy smog of particulates, ozone, sulfur and nitrogen oxides hangs over Beijing, Tianjin and other northern cities. The concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5) in Beijing recently registered at 501 μg/m3, more than 15 times the highest recordedvalue in Los … Continue reading »

It’s time to refocus California’s climate strategy

Severin Borenstein, professor of business | April 9, 2014

You know this already, but let’s review: Climate change is a global emissions problem. California produces about 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Over the next few decades, the majority of emissions will come from developing countries. If we don’t solve the problem in the developing world, we don’t solve the problem. And lastly, … Continue reading »

Coal power and climate denial

Steven Weissman, associate director, Center for Law, Energy and the Environment | May 17, 2013

What causes certain political figures either to deny the potential for climate change, or deny that human activity is a major cause? That question came to mind while reviewing a new report issued by Ceres entitled Benchmarking Air Emissions for the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States. The report does an impressive … Continue reading »

Fossil fuels’ future role in the electricity system

Dan Farber, professor of law | September 12, 2012

If you put aside their environmental impacts, fossil fuels are wonderful for generating electricity.  They are cheap, reliable, and currently in abundant supply.  But the environmental drawbacks are considerable, and the most serious one is their contribution to climate change. To deal with climate change, do we need to adopt an attitude of unremitting hostility … Continue reading »

Coal-rich Kosovo can lead on clean energy, with forward-looking international cooperation

Daniel Kammen, Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy | March 13, 2012

Over the past decade, plans for 160 new coal fired power plants in the United States have been scrapped, largely due to rising costs and an inability to compete in today’s energy markets. That’s because the cost of once-“expensive” clean energy has fallen dramatically, while “cheap” fossil fuels are increasingly expensive in economic, health, and … Continue reading »

No (or at least little) net loss of jobs from regulation

Holly Doremus, professor of law | November 15, 2011

We keep hearing the phrase “job-killing regulations” from the Republican side of the aisle, with environmental regulations generally at the top of their lists. Yet there has never been much evidence for the claim that government regulation is systematically bad for employment or the economy. To the contrary, scholars, this blog, think tanks (notably the … Continue reading »

Accounting for the harm of coal

Dan Farber, professor of law | September 30, 2011

Much of the effort to rollback current EPA regulations focuses on coal-fired electrical power plants.  An article in the August issues of the American Economic Review sheds light on the issues at stake.  “Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy” is an effort to assess the damages caused by various polluting activities. The … Continue reading »