Michael A. Mehling

A balanced mix of current themes in the energy and environmental policy debate featured at CEEPR’s 2014 Fall Research Workshop, held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on November 20 and 21, 2014. Recent developments in the Crimea prompted lively discussion during the first session on the “New Geopolitics of Oil and Gas” with Gilbert Metcalf of Tufts University and MIT’s Sergey Paltsev.

An equally dynamic session followed, with Karen Palmer of Resources for the Future and CEEPR Director Christopher Knittel assessing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants (“Understanding the U.S. Clean Power Plan”). A lunch presentation by Susan Solomon, recently designated the Director of the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, rounded out the early segment of the workshop.

In the afternoon of the first day, a session on “Renewable Energy and the Grid” gave MIT’s Richard Schmalensee an opportunity to discuss preliminary results of the MIT “The Future of Solar Energy” study chaired by him (see also p. 8 in this newsletter). Henry Yoshimura of ISO New England complemented Schmalensee’s presentation with a perspective on renewable energy integration from an Independent System Operator.

Solomon Hsiang of the University of California, Berkeley and MIT’s Adam Schlosser ended the first day with a timely reminder of the many interdependencies between energy and water supply (“Revisiting the Water and Energy Nexus”). During the ensuing dinner, James Stock of Harvard University shared insights from his recent service in the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.

On the second workshop day, the roughly 80 attendees were invited to explore current trends in Chinese energy and transport policy with MIT’s Valerie Karplus and Shanjun Li of Cornell University. Kevin Green of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center and Christopher Nevers of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers concluded the workshop with a candid review of vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards in the United States (“CAFE and Tailpipe Emissions Standards: State of Play”).

As always, the invitation-only event provided a valuable opportunity to discuss ongoing energy and environmental policy research at MIT with a select audience from industry, government, and academia, helping shape the research agenda and ensuring its continued relevance going forward.