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RFF on the Issues delivers timely policy insight from Resources for the Future 

​April 14, 2014

Note: There is still time to register for the April 17th seminar, "From the Gulf to the Arctic: What Have We Learned since the Deepwater Horizon Spill?" Join RFF for two distinguished panels featuring experts from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the US Department of Energy, and more.

Regulations for New Power Plants

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy said last week that although the new regulations for existing power plants will not be "aspirational standards," they will allow emissions targets to be achieved through a combination of strategies. This may signal a different direction from the rules for new power plants, and could provide states the flexibility needed to keep many older facilities open.

In a comment to EPA, RFF's Nathan Richardson explains why separating regulations for new coal and gas plants, as EPA is currently proposing, could sharply limit the flexibility available under rules for existing plants. He writes: "Here's hoping EPA has combined the categories. If they have not, I do not see how the agency can fulfill its promise to preserve existing [flexible] state climate programs."

European Shale Gas

Government and industry calls to increase hydraulic fracturing efforts in Europe are being met with widespread skepticism by local residents. Observers in the United Kingdom note that the island nation’s dense population and relatively complicated geography make it "everything that North Dakota isn’t," while some view fracking as being "out of step" with the rising popularity of alternative energy sources.

While Europe's recoverable shale gas reserves are "only slightly less than those in the United States," the success of the US shale boom relied on a number of factors, according to RFF’s Zhongmin Wang and Alan Krupnick. In a history of the US shale boom, they write that "high natural gas prices, favorable geology, private land and mineral rights ownership, market structure, water availability, and natural gas pipeline infrastructure" were key ingredients, but "the most important factor was innovations in technology," often supported by government research and development programs.

New from Common Resources, RFF's blog on current research and policy debates: Anthony Paul and Karen Palmer on comparing four emissions reductions policies; Nathan Richardson on preserving flexibility in emissions regulations; and Kristin Hayes on the natural gas revolution.

To schedule an interview with an RFF expert, contact Pete Nelson, Director of Communications, at or 202.328.5191.

Archived editions of RFF on the Issues are available here.

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