EPA Regulations and the Electricity Sector
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed off on final mercury and air toxic standards last week. Some groups state that the public health benefits of the standards are important. Others argue that these standards will drive a significant number of existing coal-fired power plants into retirement—and this potential outcome is exacerbating concerns about the reliability of generation supply, electricity price stability, and industry revenues.
According to new research from a team of RFF experts, the electricity sector is expected to comply with the rules without major disruptions. They find that the regulations lead to major investments in pollution control technologies, but no substantial reductions in generating capacity before 2020. The regulations may also lead to small electricity price increases and decreases in producer profits.
Governance Innovations for Water Management
Last week, American Rivers announced the 2012 list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers, with the Potomac River ranked in first place. Cleaning up the river will require coordinated actions among the diverse stakeholders in the Potomac watershed, which stretches across four states and the District of Columbia.
In a new issue brief, RFF Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth Co-Director Lynn Scarlett outlines the challenges of governance among multiple jurisdictions within the same watershed and identifies potential solutions. She suggests that “network governance” could make the management of watersheds more flexible and responsive, while maintaining accountability.
EPA’s Power Plant Standards
This week EPA will hold two public hearings on its proposed greenhouse gas emissions standards for power plants. RFF Resident Scholar Nathan Richardson made some quick observations about the rule, discussing the net costs, the rule’s flexibility, how the standards could change over time, and how the rule interacts with other rules for coal.