JLF Research Archive
Showing items 1 to 25 of 58
Low-cost Energy Source That Curbs Emissions and Land Impacts
“Green” school buildings in North Carolina fall far short of their promises to protect the environment through lower energy costs and increased efficiency.
A report circulated among lawmakers by the NC Sustainable Energy Association argues that renewables are not the source of rising electricity bills in the state. However, the report's problems are myriad.
State leaders should cut through the noise of tailored industry reports and seek a thorough, comprehensive study of North Carolina energy policy, bearing in mind that ratepayers' chief interest is least-cost, reliable power at the flip of the switch.
Since the 1940s, over a million wells have used hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) safely. The chemicals used are about 99 percent water and sand. The rest is a blend of chemical additives, most of which are found in typical household and personal care products.
Along with hopes for new jobs and a stronger economy, the prospect “fracking” in North Carolina has raised concerns. Some are legitimate questions informed by responsible skepticism, but others are fears fanned by activists and pressure groups. This paper seeks to address those questions and concerns.
Every two years since 1996, coinciding with North Carolina's races for the General Assembly, the John Locke Foundation has published a revised edition of Agenda, our public policy guide for candidates and voters. Typically as we enter the campaign season, candidates for public office in North Carolina are faced with a daunting task: to develop informed positions on dozens of public policy issues. In the pages of Agenda 2014 we provide a concise and easily digestible guide covering a wide range of specific issues, from taxes and spending to energy policy and education.
Over the last several years there have been a great many claims about energy subsidies for both renewables and traditional sources like coal and oil. The analysis hasn't, but should, focus on net subsidies, which includes both subsidies and penalties. The important question is - how are coercive policies distorting supply and demand relative to a free market?
A recent report from RTI International and La Capra Associates claims to find net economic benefits for North Carolina's renewable energy policies, but these benefits are mismeasured and spurious. Orthodox cost-benefit analysis will not find anything like what the report's authors estimate. Many claims are difficult to directly evaluate given the opacity of the report, despite the report's length. Elsewhere, confusing terminology conceals the lack of any evidence that subsidizing green energy will reduce the cost of power in North Carolina. The primary benefits the report puts forth are an increase in spending in North Carolina. It implies that a $72 million increase directly led to an increase in total spending in North Carolina by $1.4 billion. This is absurd, even when using a Keynesian model of the economy. Since the report assumes that the programs were paid for by reducing other government spending, the best guess is that they had no impact on spending in North Carolina.
In 2007, the General Assembly passed major energy legislation, SB 3, that would deliberately raise electricity prices in North Carolina through a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (RPS). The bill should be repealed. A bill before the General Assembly would cap and end the RPS mandate.
The North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission’s (CRC) forecast of sea level rise from climate change is far greater than the consensus estimate of the United Nations, and Atlantic hurricane activity exhibits no systematic changes in the last hundred years. It is therefore unlikely that catastrophic climate change outcomes await residents of the Outer Banks over the next hundred years.
Declining fish stocks are affecting N.C. fishermen and fishing communities despite the U.S. government spending $70 million a year to bail out failing federally managed fisheries under traditional management systems. Catch shares are a transformative approach to fisheries management that inject property rights into the fisheries to produce a sea change in incentives. Catch shares eliminate race to fish, encourage a more discriminating harvest, and reduce bycatch. Research finds strong links between catch shares and improved economic and biological performance of fisheries and that switching fisheries to catch share systems not only slows their decline but possibly stops (or even reverses) it.
Energy efficiency programs focus on the relationship between one input into the production process, energy, relative to the output generated by that process. This simplistic view makes no consideration for the strong possibility that other inputs -- labor, plastic, steal, copper, glass, etc. -- might actually increase. Economic efficiency, on the other hand, relates total costs to the value of the output that those costs generate.
A high-speed rail proposal for North Carolina would create substantial risks for taxpayers, while doing little to nothing to reduce traffic, help the environment, cut energy use, or create jobs. North Carolina should return the federal high-speed rail grant funding, withdraw its pending application, and seek no more funding for passenger rail.
Over the last decade, North Carolina has led the way among southern states in advancing a more extreme environmentalist agenda. The General Assembly's new Republican majority should start anew on environmental issues. Legislators should put environmental policy into the context of the ideas of liberty, personal responsibility, and economic growth that the party ran on last fall.
In 2010, North Carolina recorded the second-lowest number of high-ozone days of the last decade. Statewide, a total of 106 high ozone monitor readings were recorded over 26 days from April 1 to October 31, with 32 of those readings occurring on just eight monitors in two metropolitan areas. Despite what might be the popular belief, smog levels in North Carolina have been getting better, not worse.
This report highlights eleven action items that North Carolina’s new General Assembly should seek to implement in the first 100 days of the 2011 legislative session. These items touch upon a cross section of public policy areas, including education, economic development, property rights, energy and the environment, health care, the budget, and transparency. We at the John Locke Foundation believe that these items represent straightforward actions that would greatly enhance the liberty and prosperity of North Carolina’s citizens.
Over the past decade the “demand side management” (DSM) model of public policy has crept into the state of North Carolina’s approach to regulation. Advocates of DSM are clear in making explicit their goals of social engineering and the rearrangement of lifestyles. The language in their guiding documents are replete with references to “behavior modification” and “restraining and restricting” certain activities or lifestyle choices. DSM is inconsistent with a free society, where the role of government is to respond to constituent demands, not manage and control them.
A study by the North Carolina Waste Awareness Network (NC WARN), an anti–nuclear power advocacy group, argues that solar power today is less expensive than nuclear power. Media have embraced this study despite its absurd conclusion and its arbitrary use of subsidies in calculating the costs of competing energy sources.
In 2002 the State of North Carolina passed what was officially titled “Improve Air Quality/Electric Utilities,” which became better known as the Clean Smokestacks Bill (CSB). When the CSB was passed in 2002, it was estimated to cost $2.3 billion.
In 2008 the EPA dramatically tightened its standards for defining a high ozone day. Even under EPA’s more stringent new standard, North Carolina — both as a whole and within its major regions — has experienced significant reductions in the number of high ozone days.
Wind power advocates are pushing for commercial wind turbines along the mountain ridgelines - the mountains and the coast are the only locations where wind is viable in North Carolina. These commercial wind turbines can be as tall as 500 feet or the height of 50-story skyscrapers. The Ridge Law generally prohibits most tall buildings over 40 feet from being built along the ridgelines.
In 2007, the passage of Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) in North Carolina required that all of the state's public electric utilities increase the percentage of electricity generated from new renewable energy sources. The Beacon Hill Institute in conjunction with the John Locke Foundation has set out to estimate the costs and benefits of SB 3 and its impact on the state's economy.
North Carolina may for the first time begin regulating emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), an invisible, odorless gas prevalent in almost every sector of the economy and also vital to human health. The Environmental Management Commission, a state commission that adopts environmental regulations, is considering regulations that would mandate certain facilities to report their CO2 emissions. These regulations would lay the groundwork for far costlier CO2 regulations.
Energy-efficiency programs generally have many of the same problems as Duke Energy’s heavily criticized Save-A-Watt program. Energy-efficiency programs force consumers to pay an extra hidden tax on their utility bills to subsidize financial incentives for the purchase of energy-efficient goods and services.
The Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change’s work expired in April 2008. The legislature currently is considering the extension of the commission’s work. A commission to study global climate change can serve a vital purpose, but unfortunately this commission has failed miserably.