The POWER Initiative: Energy Transition as Economic Development

The POWER Initiative: Energy Transition as Economic Development. Congressional Research Service. Michael H. Cecire. November 20, 2019

With the decline of the U.S. coal industry, managing the economic effects of energy transition has become a priority for the federal government. The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, and the broader POWER Plus Plan of which it was a part, represent the U.S. government’s efforts to ease the economic effects of energy transition in coal industry-dependent communities in the United States, and especially in Appalachia. Launched in 2015 by the Obama Administration as a multi-agency effort utilizing various existing programs, the POWER Plus plan received partial backing through appropriations for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY2016) to the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Economic Development Administration, and for abandoned mine land reclamation. 

Accelerating the Low Carbon Transition: The Case For Stronger, More Targeted And Coordinated International Action

Accelerating the Low Carbon Transition: The Case For Stronger, More Targeted And Coordinated International Action. Brookings Institution. David G. Victor, Frank W. Geels, and Simon Sharpe.  December 9, 2019

The world is committed to acting on climate change. At least since the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, the international community has been united in its commitment to preventing ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. In the Paris agreement of 2015, almost all countries set out individual targets or actions they would take towards meeting this collective goal. Earlier this year, the UN Climate Action Summit highlighted many examples of governments, businesses and civil society groups leading the way to a low carbon economy. There is general consensus on the need for deep cuts in emissions as rapidly as is practical. However, it is equally clear that emissions are still rising, not falling, and economic change is not happening anywhere near quickly enough. Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 71 pages].

Oil and Gas Industry Engagement on Climate Change: Drivers, Actions, and Path Forward

Oil and Gas Industry Engagement on Climate Change: Drivers, Actions, and Path Forward. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Stephen J. Naimoli, Sarah Ladislaw. October 1, 2019.

The most important strategic issue facing the energy industry today is climate change. As the earth’s average temperature continues to rise with the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the stable functioning of earth’s natural systems adjusts to the new, high-carbon reality and society begins to witness the effects of an altered natural environment and its impact on our lives and livelihoods. Most greenhouse gas emissions are caused by human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels. This reality demands a change to our energy system. Given this threat, governments are increasingly enacting policies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and investors in companies that sell fossil fuels are putting increasing pressure on management to show how they will navigate an energy system in transition. In addition, the economics of renewable energy are becoming increasingly attractive, creating potential alternatives to fossil fuels. Facing all of these drivers, some oil and gas companies are strategizing to become “energy companies,” adapting to this global energy transition. This report, based on research and a workshop held at CSIS in February 2019 with industry, investors, academics, and environmental groups, attempts to explore how oil and gas companies are taking action to address climate change, how these actions fit with the overall needs of the energy transition, and whether there is more companies can do to contribute to the solution set of this problem. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 39 pages].

Transforming the U.S. and EU Electric Power Sectors: Workshop Report and Recommendations for Transatlantic Cooperation

Transforming the U.S. and EU Electric Power Sectors: Workshop Report and Recommendations for Transatlantic Cooperation. Center for Strategic & International Studies.  Sarah Ladislaw, Stephen J. Naimoli. August 29, 2019

Across Europe and the United States, the electric power sector is undergoing a fairly profound transformation driven by a changing fuel mix, higher penetration of renewable energy resources, changing consumer preferences and interface with the electric power system, and evolving business models. Policy and regulatory frameworks need to be updated to reflect these changes and facilitate future transformation. In both places this transformation is uneven, with some localities moving along faster than others, and complex, driven by a variety of factors. While the transformation is multidimensional, two conversations relating to the long-term vision for the sector are central to navigating a path forward. First, what are the challenges and opportunities associated with higher penetration of renewable energy and distributed energy resources? Second, what are the opportunities and challenges associated with the electrification strategies, particularly for measures to electrify transport and industry? In addition, the increased digitalization of the energy sector writ large, and specifically the electric power sector, raises issues about access to data, cybersecurity, and grid resilience, all areas that have become an integral part of the conversation in the European Union and the United States on the transformation of the electric power sector.

The following brief outlines some of the issues related to these topics that were discussed at a recent U.S./EU stakeholder workshop held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in June 2019. The information and reflections here do not necessarily represent the views of the participants and are meant to serve as useful background to stimulate further discussion. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 16 pages].

Impact of Climate Risk on the Energy System: Examining the Financial, Security, and Technology Dimensions

Impact of Climate Risk on the Energy System: Examining the Financial, Security, and Technology Dimensions. Council on Foreign Relations.   Amy Myers Jaffe et al. September 10, 2019.

Climate change poses risks to energy security, financial markets, and national security. Energy companies and local, state, and federal governments need to better prepare to face these challenges. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 87 pages]. 

Energy in America: Energy as a Source of Economic Growth and Social Mobility

Energy as a Source of Economic Growth and Social Mobility.  Center for Strategic & International Studies. Sarah Ladislaw, Jesse Barnett. June 25, 2019

The CSIS Energy Program assessed the existing academic literature, commissioned new research papers, convened an expert summit, and compiled the findings to produce Energy in America: Energy as a Source of Economic Growth and Social Mobility. This report analyzes the ways energy contributes to the challenges and opportunities facing ordinary Americans, covering the impacts of production, distribution, and consumption of energy products in the United States.

The report highlights the new, extra-energy objectives that energy policy is increasingly expected to advance and evaluates their historical efficacy. The authors conclude that while deliberate U.S. energy policy interventions have hitherto achieved mixed results, there are promising developments and best practices that decisionmakers ought to consider. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 55 pages].

Management of the Colorado River: Water Allocations, Drought, and the Federal Role

Management of the Colorado River: Water Allocations, Drought, and the Federal Role.  Congressional Research Service. Charles V. Stern, Pervaze A. Sheikh. Updated May 17, 2019

The Colorado River Basin covers more than 246,000 square miles in seven U.S. states (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California) and Mexico. Pursuant to federal law, the Bureau of Reclamation (part of the Department of the Interior) manages much of the basin’s water supplies. Colorado River water is used primarily for agricultural irrigation and municipal and industrial (M&I) uses, but it also is important for power production, fish and wildlife, and recreational uses. 

In recent years, consumptive uses of Colorado River water have exceeded natural flows. This causes an imbalance in the basin’s available supplies and competing demands. A drought in the basin dating to 2000 has raised the prospect of water delivery curtailments and decreased hydropower production, among other things. In the future, observers expect that increasing demand for supplies, coupled with the effects of climate change, will further increase the strain on the basin’s limited water supplies.

[PDF format, 29 pages].