The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, along with the Highway Revenue Act (1956) created the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) as a mechanism through which federal gasoline taxes would be used to fund the construction and maintenance of the U.S. highway system. Both the taxes themselves and the authority to place these funds into the HTF expire and must be extended periodically. In 1993, the last increase brought the federal gas tax to 18.4 cents per gallon, 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel. Many point to inflation and increased fuel efficiency as causes of significant shortfalls in the HTF and claim … [read more]
Jesse Jenkins (MIT) and Matthew Stepp (Center for Clean Energy Innovation) are among a number of policy analysts who have called for a “tax and invest” strategy to combat global warming. That is: A modest tax on carbon emissions would be invested in government research, development, and innovation-promotion programs to commercialize new alternative energy technology.
But in a recent article I have argued there are at least four reasons to question whether typical government technology programs would be as cost-effective an investment as Jenkins and others claim:
1. The government role in innovation is neither necessary nor sufficient. Of the … [read more]
On Tuesday, January 20th 2015, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address (SOTU), and energy and climate will likely play a prominent role. In last years’ SOTU, President Obama outlined an all of the above strategy: increasing domestic oil and gas production, cutting red tape, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and addressing climate change. However, a lot has changed in the last year.
Republicans now control both chambers of Congress, oil prices are at their lowest point since 2009 and the Clean Power Plan has impacted the policy landscape both domestically and abroad. The administration just announced… [read more]
Oil prices have declined sharply over the last six months, with the U.S. benchmark closing below $50/barrel on Jan. 6th, for the first time since 2009. A number of factors have contributed to this fall in prices, including an increase in U.S. tight oil production and decreased global demand. Beyond the immediate financial benefits of lower fuel prices for U.S. consumers, the falling price of oil raises several policy questions. Impacts on financial markets and geopolitical tensions that could be exacerbated if the low price persists are only a few of the potential issues U.S. policymakers may find themselves dealing … [read more]
On December 22, 2008, a disposal cell at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant ruptured, releasing an estimated 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash in eastern Tennessee. Fly ash is one of a variety of coal combustion residuals (CCR), collectively referred to as coal ash and stored in more than 500 disposal facilities across the country. The Kingston spill prompted an EPA effort to reassess how coal ash is regulated.
In the initial rule proposal, two different options for regulating coal ash were included, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which regulates solid waste. The central question … [read more]