Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Here’s something not for the faint-hearted: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is seeking comments on “possible improvements to its electric transmission incentives policy.”  Still there?  C’mon this is important.  Incentive policies encourage the development of infrastructure that is reliable and reduces congestion and ratepayers’ costs.  FERC’s upcoming effort will review an order adopted in 2012.  Some fundamental issues are at play: should incentives be granted based on project risks and challenges or based on benefits?  Economic efficiency vs. reliability?  In addition, FERC is interested in comments about possible metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of incentives.  Hmmm… checking to see whether something actually works… better take a brisk walk and get some more coffee… Comments are due 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.
*  The Global CCS Institute will release a new report highlighting strategic policy priorities for the large-scale deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS). The Institute’s upcoming report also reviews current progress achieved with existing policies and the reasons behind positive investment decisions for the current 23 large-scale CCS projects in operation and construction globally.  Look for that report on April 2.  Then, watch for an upcoming webinar during which two of the paper’s authors will provide insights into the key findings and recommendations.  The webinar will address barriers to CCS deployment, the conditions that have enabled current CCS facilities, lessons from current projects and the strategic priorities for policymakers to support CCS deployment.  Click here for more info.
*  The ocean off the West Coast is shifting from several years of unusually warm conditions – a marine heat wave known as the “warm blob” – toward a cooler and more productive regime that may boost salmon returns and populations of other ocean predators, according to a new NOAA Fisheries report.  The report cautions against expecting a return to “normal,” given the continuing wide variability of conditions in recent years. This perspective echoes other recent reports from around the world that note the increasing frequency of climatic disturbances is making it hard for ecosystems to recover before “being knocked out of whack again.”  The report, now in its seventh year, informs Pacific Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries managers as they develop fishing seasons and limits.

Tom Ewing
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