Keystone Pipeline Debate Reopens with Submission of New Application

May 10, 2012

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

The U.S. Department of State has received a new application from TransCanada—the company behind the controversial Keystone XL project—to ship crude oil via a proposed pipeline running from the Canadian border to existing infrastructure in Nebraska. TransCanada had its initial application rejected by the Obama administration in January. The reapplication to the U.S. State Department on Friday calls to reroute the pipeline around the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills Region of Nebraska—adding miles onto the project. Despite the new route, some in Nebraska still oppose the plan. The pipeline is causing other problems as lawmakers debate a multi-year surface transportation plan—the first one since 2005.

If approved, construction on the pipeline could happen in early 2013, with oil flowing as soon as 2014, according to The Canadian Press.

That same day, the Obama administration issued a proposed rule requiring companies drilling for natural gas on federal and tribal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. While the rules also set standards for proper construction of wells and wastewater disposal, disclosure of the chemicals used in the “fracking” process would not have to be reported until after work is complete. The regulations, which could go into effect by the end of the year, spurred debate among environmentalists, industry and lawmakers—with some saying the rules didn’t go far enough. Others highlighted the “toughest” provisions, which require tests of wells’ physical integrity and expand the scope of water protected from drilling—but pointed out the rules “only apply to a sliver of the nation’s natural gas supply.”

Gas prices have continued a steady decline the last five weeks, causing the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to revise forecasts for the summer—predicting motorists will spend $10.7 billion less than previously estimated.

Heartland Institute Pulls Controversial Billboards

The Heartland Institute made headlines again recently for suggesting—in billboard ads—that only terrorists believe in manmade global warming. The failed campaign attacking the existence of climate change prompted a firestorm of criticism and recalled another kerfuffle involving the Institute earlier this year. Reactions to the campaign caused the Institute to announce removal of the billboards after being up just 24 hours. Even after they were removed, some donors pulled funding for the Heartland Institute, but others weren’t so quick to cut their ties with the organization.

A new study focuses blame for warming on another species entirely. It links methane emissions from dinosaurs, the sauropod specifically, to climate change and a warmer Mesozoic era. Like the dinosaurs before them, modern-day methane emitters such as cows and sheep are being studied to determine how the methane they emit could be contributing to warming. Regardless, according to the study, emissions from dinosaurs were far larger than those of our modern-day plant-eating animals, and in fact may have equaled all modern methane emissions—both natural and manmade.

New data sheds li­ght on the speed of melting glaciers, and how their changes affect sea levels. Greenland’s ocean-bound glaciers accelerated by an average of 30 percent from 2000 to 2011—not quite as quickly had been estimated in previous worst-case scenarios, but still a cause for concern.

The Rise and Fall of Renewables

While a solar-powered boat was circumnavigating the world, on land the U.S. activated the first solar power project on federal land near Las Vegas. Meanwhile, residential solar leasing is taking off, Motley Fool reported. And in the next five years, the world’s solar power generating capacity is predicted to grow more than 200 percent, although public support for green energy initiatives has dropped recently.

Japan may be taking steps toward renewable energy after taking its last nuclear reactor off line last week. The move left the country without nuclear power for the first time since 1970. But MSNBC insisted renewables wouldn’t bring immediate relief, as only 10 percent of Japan’s power generation currently comes from renewables. Saudi Arabia is exploring whether it can generate a third of its electricity by way of solar power.

In the U.S., the renewable winner may not be necessarily who you think, according to the Washington Post. The EIA now has a map showing a large uptick in renewables between 2001 and 2011. This surge in renewables can largely be attributed to state renewable portfolio standards requiring utilities to obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, federal production tax credits and stimulus grants. The stimulus grants have expired; the tax credit for wind will expire at the end of 2012. The Guardian reports there is an effort underway by conservative think tanks in the U.S. to eliminate all government programs aimed at promoting the use of renewables.

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.


Climate Researcher Lied to Get Documents, Triggering Ethics Debate

February 23, 2012

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

A top climate researcher—Peter Gleick, head of the Pacific Institute—admitted he lied to obtain documents from the Heartland Institute, which he then leaked to media and revealed the organization’s plans to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change.

Gleick resigned from the board of the National Center on Science Education, and stepped down as chairman of the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) taskforce on scientific ethics.

His admission has triggered an ethics debate in the climate community, with ethics expert Dale Jamieson calling Gleick’s actions “unethical” but adding, “relative to what has been going on on the climate denial side, this is a fairly small breach of ethics.”

Cognitive scientist Stephan Lewandowsky argued that “revealing to the public the active, vicious, and well-funded campaign of denial … likely constitutes a classic public good,” against which the ethics of Gleick’s deception have to be weighed.

The president of the AGU said the organization was disappointed with Gleick, whose actions were “inconsistent with our organization’s values.” NASA climate researcher Gavin Schmidt said “Gleick’s actions were completely irresponsible.” Bryan Walsh of Time argued Gleick’s actions “have hurt … the cause of climate science.”

In the U.K., a freedom of information act request for details on the funder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate change skeptic group, was denied by a court on the grounds the foundation is not influential enough.

PTC Could Equal Permanent Tax Credit

The Production Tax Credit (PTC) that aids wind energy is set to expire at the end of 2012, but some legislators are fighting to save it, with Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado arguing that “every minute counts” in trying to forge a deal.

To avoid such struggles over regular renewals of the PTC, President Obama proposed a new corporate taxation plan that would make the subsidies permanent, as well as make permanent a research-and-experimentation tax credit that expired Jan. 1.

High Oil Prices a Drag

Since the start of the year, oil prices have been on the rise, putting a drag on economic recovery in the U.S., pushing up consumer prices and causing overall inflation—risking a repeat of early 2011, when high oil prices nearly pushed the country back into recession.

President Obama was scheduled to speak about the issue Thursday, and White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the rise in prices—despite a drop in domestic consumption and rise in production—“tells you that there are other things beyond our control.”

The threat high oil prices pose to economies across developed countries could trigger the International Energy Agency to release more oil from strategic reserves, as was done in spring 2011, argued Reuters analyst John Kemp.

The rising oil prices have U.S. consumers wondering why. The prices, experts said, have stayed high because of rising consumption in emerging markets, as well as the threat that Iran’s oil exports may be cut off. An International Energy Agency official said that other countries would be able to make up for a loss of Iran’s exports, which had been 2.2 million barrels a day, and to boost production, Saudi Arabia may restart its oldest oil field.

In response to the European Union’s decision to embargo Iranian oil, Iran halted oil shipments to Britain and France, and possibly other European countries. Major shipping countries are refusing to pick up Iranian oil, with one shipping executive saying it would be like “getting leprosy.”

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said he would get gasoline down to $2.50 a gallon. However Bryan Walsh said no president can deliver that—at least without making the U.S. economy tank.

Tar Sands Tussle

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would require approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry diluted tar sands from Canada to Texas, which President Obama had earlier nixed.

The European Union held a vote on whether to ban imports of oil made from Canadian tar sands, but it ended in a deadlock.

The amount of tar sands is small compared with the amount of natural gas and coal in the world, so the tar sands alone don’t pose a major threat to the climate, argued a study in Nature Climate Change.

Some took this to mean that Canada’s tar sands are “not so dirty after all.” However, study leader Andrew Weaver—a climate modeler at the University of Victoria in Canada—argued that use of tar sands is “a symptom of the bigger problem of our dependence on fossil fuels,” and policy makers should avoid commitments to infrastructure supporting fossil fuel dependence.

Meanwhile, another study of tar sands sites found levels of air pollution—in particular nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide—were comparable to air above a large power plant.

Small Feet, Large Footprint

A new report on the carbon footprint of a diminutive creature—shrimp—shows they’re worse than cattle, at least when raised in aquaculture. When coastal mangrove forests are cleared to create shrimp farms, it’s the “the equivalent of slash-and-burn agriculture,” said study leader Boone Kauffman.

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.


U.S. Rejects Tar Sands Pipeline from Canada—For Now

January 19, 2012

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Under pressure from Congress to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, planned to connect Canada’s tar sands region with the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Obama administration has decided to reject the pipeline proposal.

“This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline” that did not allow enough time to finish the environmental impact assessment, said President Obama. Republicans who supported the pipeline say they will continue to fight for it, and have asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify before Congress on the decision.

The company that wanted to build the pipeline, TransCanada, said earlier this week it was moving ahead with its plans despite the political wrangling. Also, the government of Alberta, the province at the center of Canada’s tar sands activity, had been urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ignore greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts when evaluating the pipeline, according to newly released documents.

But with the decision issued by the U.S. State Department, now the company will have to start over and reapply, and the government might not offer an expedited review. TransCanada may reapply within weeks proposing a new route avoiding Nebraska’s ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region, above a portion of the vast Ogallala Aquifer.

Obama reportedly called Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to explain his decision, and Harper said he hoped the pipeline would eventually be approved. Harper is also supporting another pipeline to Canada’s Pacific coast that would facilitate exports to Asia, in particular to China. However, pipeline approval is more difficult in Canada than the U.S., and there is considerable opposition to a Pacific pipeline, a Reuters analyst said.

The decision was a “brave” call, said Bill McKibben, branded in the Boston Globe as “the man who crushed the Keystone XL pipeline.”

However other commentators—even those who took the decision as good news—argued it won’t stop Canada’s tar sands from flowing, and thus won’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Others called the decision “a gift” to the GOP.

Shale Gas Versus Alternatives

Although world oil prices and U.S. gasoline prices were at all-time highs in 2011, in the U.S. natural gas prices have been plummeting, reaching their lowest in a decade in a “classic case of oversupply.” The price has dropped lately because of a mild winter requiring less heating, a boon to consumers and businesses; the longer trend has been driven by the advent of shale gas drilling techniques, which now account for about a quarter of U.S. natural gas production.

There has been limited shale gas development outside the U.S., and prices in most of the rest of the world have remained much higher.

Although several years ago the U.S. was planning to import large amounts of liquefied natural gas and built ports to receive it in tankers, now the country is considering exporting natural gas. But such a move would have wide-ranging impacts that are difficult to unravel, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution; the U.S. Energy Information Administration said exporting natural gas would likely push domestic prices up.

And an MIT study simulated the impacts a steady supply of cheap shale gas would likely have on the U.S. economy and found it would in many ways benefit the economy over the next couple of decades, but that it could boost greenhouse gas emissions and stunt the growth of renewable energy and other alternatives.

Renewables Reach New High

Global investment in renewable energy hit a new record in 2011, reaching $260 billion, up 5 percent from 2010. Wind investment fell 17 percent from 2010, while solar investment grew by a third, so spending on solar was twice the spending on wind. The growth of solar was attributed in large part to plummeting photovoltaic panel prices.

Meanwhile, manufacturers of both solar panels and wind turbines are being squeezed by oversupply, leaving them with low profit margins.

In the U.S., renewables investment grew by a third, to $56 billion, helping the U.S. to reclaim the title of world’s biggest clean energy investor. However, in 2011 the country also saw the end of “green stimulus” money and federal loan guarantees, and its Production Tax Credit will end at the close of 2012, so future investment onward may drop unless new support for renewables is brought in.

With the drop in wind energy investment, Vestas, the world’s largest turbine manufacturer, is laying off more than 2,000 employees globally, about 10 percent of its workforce. It said it may layoff another 1,600 in the U.S. if the Production Tax Credit is not extended.

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.


After Tar Sands Pipeline Decision Delayed, Other Routes Sought

November 17, 2011

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Editor’s Note: The Climate Post will not be circulated next Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Look for it again on December 1.

The Obama administration delayed deciding whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which has been proposed to carry tar sands from Canada to Texas’s Gulf Coast. The administration said it should consider alternate routes and wait until early 2013 to decide.

Industry officials in Canada thought the delay may derail the pipeline, and threaten the country’s aim of becoming a top oil producer. To maintain high prices for Canadian oil, there is an urgent need for new means of export, including to Asia, argued the Globe and Mail.

Meanwhile Republican lawmakers proposed a bill for speeding up the review process, and TransCanada Corp., the company proposing the pipeline, argued the approval could come in six to nine months.

In Nebraska, the pipeline has met opposition in part because of fears the pipeline would threaten the vast Ogallala Aquifer that underlies much of the state and the ecologically sensitive Sandhills region.

Nebraska’s legislature voted unanimously, earlier this week, for a bill to re-route the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as for a separate bill to establish authority for the state to regulate pipeline routes within its borders. In response, TransCanada Corp. has proposed a different route through Nebraska.

Diplomacy and Downsizing

The U.S. Department of State, which has been in charge of reviewing the Keystone XL application, has opened a new branch, the Bureau of Energy Resources. The new bureau, a result of a review that began in 2009, will aim to strengthen “energy diplomacy.”

The State Department’s special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs said the main goal is not energy independence for the U.S., since the country is tightly linked with global markets. The new bureau will push for increased use of natural gas around the world as a replacement for burning oil to generate electricity.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) is under fire for its handling of cleantech loans, in particular of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu was scheduled to testify. Meanwhile an internal review at the DoE said the department spends too much on overhead and should restructure in preparation for downsizing forced by budget cuts likely to come.

Salvaging the Kyoto Essence

The upcoming climate talks in Durban, South Africa, are unlikely to make any huge strides, the Christian Science Monitor argued, but could make a crucial contribution by extending the Kyoto Protocol. Salvaging the essence of that agreement is the most important step, agreed Africa’s chief negotiator at the talks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for richer countries to follow through with their pledge for a $100 billion annual climate aid, and the Green Climate Fund, both of which G-20 countries said they remain committed to recently. But the deepening economic problems in Europe may mean contributions to climate funds fall short of promises.

The Green Climate Fund has run into problems already, hampered by disagreements over how to structure it. Because of lack of transparency and possible double-counting of funds, it is difficult to say how much additional climate aid has actually been contributed, said Saleemul Huq of the International Institute for Environment and Development.

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.


Only Five Years Left to Make Transition to Low-Carbon Infrastructure

November 10, 2011

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

The infrastructure built over the next five years could “lock in” enough emissions to push the world past its target for limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest annual update of energy trends, World Energy Outlook.

The Agency is “increasingly pessimistic” about the prospect for dealing with climate change, said deputy executive director Richard Jones.

To stay below 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the world has a budget of greenhouse gases it can emit, equal to about 1 trillion tons of CO2. Infrastructure already in place, or in the process of being built, will emit about 80 percent of that, the IEA estimated.

Unless there is a binding international agreement soon to ensure a swift transition to low-carbon infrastructure, “the door to 2 degrees will be closed forever,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol. So, investment in cleantech can’t wait until economic good times, argued the Guardian’s Damian Carrington.

This transition away from fossil fuels will require that annual subsidies for renewable energy continue rising, reaching $250 billion by 2035—four times today’s level—the IEA estimated, but this would still be considerably less than today’s fossil fuel subsidies.

The IEA foresees oil prices remaining high for decades to come, with a tight market with risks of price spikes if there is a cut-off due to war or soaring prices if there is insufficient investment in oil fields.

Because of these climate and security risks, Birol argued, “We have to leave oil before it leaves us.”

Solar Trade War?

The boom in Chinese production of low-cost solar panels has hit U.S. manufacturers hard, making it difficult for them to compete.

Subsidies for renewable energy in China have sparked accusations of a trade war with the United States, prompting a U.S. Department of Commerce investigation.

Some U.S. manufacturers launched an official complaint against China, and have called for a duty on Chinese panels imported into the U.S.

Another group of U.S. solar manufacturers and installers banded together to form the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy to oppose the complaint. This led China’s largest solar power plant developer to shelve plans for a $500 million U.S. project.

Despite China’s large exports of solar panels, they’re also using many at home—and may install as much solar capacity as the U.S. this year.

Carbon Tax Approved

Australia will impose a large tax on carbon emissions, after the country’s Senate passed the legislation. The tax will kick in next July, and the country is pursuing linking its carbon market with others in New Zealand and Europe.

The system will be tax-and-dividend in which households will be compensated for higher energy prices, with payments of about 10 Australian dollars per week scheduled to start in May, before the tax hits.

Pipeline Controversy

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline to carry tar sands from Canada to Texas faced its biggest opposition yet with a revival of protests in Washington, D.C., in which thousands of protesters encircled the White House.

Canada is also considering another tar sands pipeline called Northern Gateway to reach a port on the Pacific coast, sited for export to Asia.

Oil historian Daniel Yergin argued opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline is misguided because if the U.S. doesn’t buy the fuel, China will.

Either way, the large store of tar sands in Canada could reshape world oil markets, said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which represents large exporters such as Saudi Arabia, but does not include Canada.

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.


As Population Tops 7 Billion, Time to Revisit Climate Approaches

November 3, 2011

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

The world population reached seven billion people around October 31, according to United Nations estimates. The actual date is a bit fuzzy, but the milestone has nonetheless had great symbolic power, triggering a stream of articles on population issues.

Nicholas Kristof, in the New York Times, argued family planning is the solution to many of the world’s ills, from climate change to poverty to civil wars—but this work has been starved of U.S. funds in recent years.

Population expert William Ryerson said the environmental movement initially focused on population, and then it became taboo—and since we haven’t pursued birth control more vigorously, we’ve failed to take some of the easiest steps to deal with climate change and resource scarcity.

The United Nations Development Programme’s annual report on the quality of life worldwide warned that unless we deal with environmental challenges including climate change, the progress developing countries have made could slow or reverse.

Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University, famous for his book The Population Bomb, said people will have trouble feeding themselves as climate change worsens. But it’s a catch-22, he said, because we need to expand agriculture, but as it’s practiced today it is also one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.

A new report from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions says there are a number of strategies for reducing emissions from agriculture using on-farm management practices such as no-till farming and by utilizing fertilizer more strategically.

Extreme Weather

Already climate change is taking its toll, most likely responsible for an increase in extreme weather, according to a leaked draft of an upcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report said there is a two-in-three chance that global warming has made disasters more common—and that scientists are 99 percent certain there will be more extreme heat spells and fewer cold spells.

This year the U.S. has already broken its record—set last year—for the most major disasters, reaching 89 by the end of October.

Meanwhile, there’s a push to make climate science more practical, with a shift from scenarios to short-term forecasts, reported The Daily Climate. Also, an initiative by the World Meteorological Organization is working to create “downscaled” results of climate models to provide village-by-village projections of climate change impacts across Africa.

Executive Decision on Pipeline

A proposed pipeline that would carry tar sands from Canada to Texas encountered protests in front of the White House, and now Nebraska lawmakers have introduced a bill to give state officials authority over pipeline routes.

In response, President Barack Obama said Nebraskans shouldn’t have to risk their water supplies in exchange for jobs the pipeline would create.

To help settle matters, Obama will make the decision himself about the pipeline, rather than delegating the job to the State Department, which has been reviewing the case for three years, but which was recently accused of having too close of ties with the company that wants to build the pipeline.

Oil Addiction Threatens Security

The U.S. transportation sector’s dependence on oil is the Achilles heel of U.S. national security, argued a new report from CNA, a military think tank. It also said the Department of Defense, America’s single largest user of oil, should drastically cut its oil use and cut dependence on imported oil by 30 percent in the next decade.

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.


Australia’s Wild Weather May Have Helped Push Carbon Tax

October 13, 2011

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Although Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard had promised before to not enact a carbon tax, floods, bush fires, heat waves, and drought reawakened discussion about putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions.

This week, Australia’s House of Representatives narrowly passed a carbon tax, sending the bill to the country’s Senate, where observers say it is almost certain to pass. Supporters say Australia’s setup would have several advantages over Europe’s carbon-trading system, including a fixed price for the first three years while the fledgling system gets going, which could allow Australia to claim it is the world leader on climate legislation.

However, Australia is currently one of the biggest emitters per capita, with 80 percent of the country’s electricity coming from coal. Australia is also the world’s biggest coal exporter, and as such has the coal industry reacting fiercely to the proposed law.

Buying Sunshine

Debt-wracked Greece is launching a plan—with Germany’s help—to attempt to boost its economy out of recession by building huge solar power installations. “Project Helios,” named after the Greek god of the sun, is designed to attract 20 billion euros in foreign investment—and a large portion of the electricity produced may leave the country, headed to Germany.

However, the plan for exporting the electricity has some snags, critics say—including the need for billions of euros of investment in Greece’s power grid. Nonetheless, the president of the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies said the plan is more realistic than Desertec, a proposal to supply Europe with electricity from huge solar power farms in North Africa.

Energy for All

In preparation for 2012—which the United Nations has named the Year of Sustainable Energy for All—the International Energy Agency released its first assessment of the cost of ending energy poverty. The price tag: $48 billion a year—about 3 percent of the yearly global energy investment, and about five times as much as is spent now trying to bring energy to the world’s poor.

Expanding electricity to about 1.5 billion people who lack it now would add less than 1 percent to the world’s emissions, the report estimated, and the spread could be driven by the private sector, with the proper incentives from governments, said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Pipeline Proceedings

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry diluted tar sands from Canada to Texas, faced raucous opposition at a public hearing in Washington, D.C. Protests against the project outside the White House dwindled in September, but the project remains a political headache for the Obama Administration.

Nonetheless, many industry insiders surveyed by National Journal, as well as Canada’s natural resources minister, said the administration is likely to approve the pipeline.

More Nuclear Zones

Notwithstanding the retreat from nuclear power in Germany, Switzerland, and perhaps Japan, the world is still headed for a nuclear renaissance, said a report by Britain’s Royal Society. However, the report argued there should be more emphasis on controlling proliferation of nuclear materials and better storage of spent fuel to avoid accidents like that at Fukushima.

A new bill in Berkeley, California, is questioning the city’s long-time stance as a “nuclear free zone,” which uses no nuclear power and lets no nuclear weapons pass through it. But one of  its city council members says the 1986 law causes more problems than it is worth and should be repealed.

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.