Stories for April 2020
Commentary: Let’s Stimulate
Our Clean Energy Future, North Carolina
As Congress works to address the COVID-19 pandemic, it is considering additional stimulus measures to ease the economic fallout.

In a commentary for Southeast Energy News, Nicholas Institute Senior Policy Associate Jennifer Weiss and Coalition for Green Capital Executive Director Jeffrey Schub write that Congress could establish a national climate bank to put people back to work across the United States by financing infrastructure and construction projects and creating jobs in clean energy, clean transportation and energy efficiency. North Carolina, in particular, is uniquely poised to take advantage of such an investment, capitalizing on a statewide green bank recommendation in the North Carolina Clean Energy Plan and a market assessment currently underway.
Earth Day Began With Bipartisanship.
How Did The Climate Get So Polarized?
On the first Earth Day in 1970, the environment was viewed as a bipartisan issue. Today, it's one of the more polarizing topics in the United States.

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Nicholas Institute Director Tim Profeta joined WFAE's "Charlotte Talks" to discuss how the political conversation around the environment has changed over time. Profeta also answered questions about the environment as an issue in the 2020 election.
Internet of Water Launches
Its State Agency Peer-to-Peer Network
The Internet of Water’s State Agency Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Network is a community of practice designed to connect members from across the nation who are working on modernizing their agencies' water data infrastructure. Active employees of state, local, or tribal agencies are encouraged to register and participate!

The Network will provide opportunities for members to share challenges, solutions, and lessons learned in the work to modernize their water data infrastructure. Members will also be invited to participate in quarterly webinars and a Network forum.
New Data and Technologies are Transforming Energy Access—Public Policy Must Catch Up
Technologies like geospatial imagery, machine learning and affordable batteries are generating ever more innovative ways to target customers with off-grid energy solutions. But according to analysts at the Duke University Energy Access Project, public policy is struggling to keep up with these rapid-fire developments, leaving vast amounts of human capacity and productivity untapped. EAP's Jonathan Phillips, Marc Jeuland, and Emily Pakhtigian explore how to address this disconnect between government and the private sector.

Aspen Manning, Jason P. Julian, and  Martin W. Doyle

Stream channels in the American Southwest are misunderstood because they have been understudied and overgeneralized. This misunderstanding has serious consequences for environmental policy, particularly in defining the scope of jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.  Based on a thorough literature review and synthesis of arid region studies, we found key spatiotemporal patterns of arid riparian vegetation that could potentially be used to determine hydrologic connectivity. Much of the vegetation along arid stream channels is well-adapted to water scarcity and varies in response to differences in geomorphology, hydrology, and land use across multiple scales.

Andrés M. Cisneros-Montemayor, Yoshitaka Ota, Megan Bailey, Christina C. Hicks, Ahmed S. Khan, Anthony Rogers, U. Rashid Sumaila,  John Virdin , and Kevin K. He

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is in the final stages of negotiating an agreement to prohibit harmful fisheries subsidies, thereby achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.6. An effective agreement should be viewed as an opportunity for nations to proactively transition towards sustainable and equitable fisheries and pave the path for other SDGs. Supporting fishers does not require harmful subsidies, and we provide evidence-based options for reform that highlight equity needs while reducing environmental harm. Subsidy reforms need clear goals, co-design, transparency, and fair implementation.

Katherine J.D. Warnell, Marc Russell, Charles Rhodes, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Lydia P. Olander, David J. Nowak, Rajendra Poudel, Pierre D. Glynn, Julie L. Hass, Satoshi Hirabayashi, Jane Carter Ingram, John Matuszak, Kirsten L.L. Oleson, Stephen M. Posner, Ferdinando Villa

Ecosystem accounts, as formalized by the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Experimental Ecosystem Accounts (SEEA EEA), have been compiled in a number of countries, yet there have been few attempts to develop them for the U.S. We explore the potential for U.S. ecosystem accounting by compiling ecosystem extent, condition, and ecosystem services supply and use accounts for a 10-state region in the Southeast. The pilot accounts address air quality, water quality, biodiversity, carbon storage, recreation, and pollination for selected years from 2001 to 2015 .

Jennifer Chen

Given stated stakeholder clean energy and consumer goals, this paper offers a way to evaluate options for enhancing competition, compared to how utilities traditionally operate the electricity grid. The focus here is on wholesale transactions between generators and utilities serving end-use customers. These utilities then sell electricity at retail to their customers, and in many regions including the Southeast, they are state-regulated monopolies responsible for serving their customers at least cost.
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