Stories by Joshua Rhodes

Expert Voices

Despite the blue wave, the U.S. failed to pass its first carbon tax

Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell, left, speaks at Cal Anderson Park during the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Seattle, Washington.
Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, left, speaks during the March for Our Lives rally on March 24 in Seattle, Washington. Cantwell was re-elected on Nov. 6. Photo: Lindsey Wasson via Getty Images

One of the biggest losers this past election day was the carbon tax. Environmentalists hoped that Washington might become the first state in the country to pass such a tax through a ballot measure, but the proposal failed by nearly 13 points.

The big picture: The carbon tax, which would effectively increase the cost of producing, distributing or using fossil fuels, has emerged as a theoretically promising compromise to people on both sides of the aisle, as it would create a market-based incentive for companies to pursue aggressive action on climate change. But in practice — and even in a solidly Democratic state — the public appears unwilling to pay for it, at least in the iteration that was on the ballot in Washington.

Expert Voices

New EPA rule unlikely to stem the tide against coal

The Longview Power Plant, a coal-fired plant, stands on August 21, 2018 in Maidsville, West Virginia.
The coal-fired Longview Power Plant in Maidsville, West Virginia. Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty Images

This week the EPA released its long-awaited proposed revision to part of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan (CPP). The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule is less stringent than the current policy and could result in increased carbon emissions.

The big picture: The EPA is claiming to meet its mandate to regulate carbon emissions, while critics say ACE is yet another coal bailout scheme. Yet market forces might ultimately make the new rule moot.

Expert Voices

Texas meets grid challenge during record-breaking energy demand

A natural gas power plant outside Dallas. Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A natural gas power plant outside Dallas. Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

ERCOT, the electricity grid that serves most of Texas, delivered more power on Wednesday than it ever had, only to deliver even more on Thursday, setting a new system-wide peak demand record of 73,259 megawatts. Friday’s demand is forecasted to be even higher, but the worst might not come until Monday.

Why it matters: The Texas grid is an energy-only market, which, unlike capacity markets, pays power plants only when they produce energy. This summer has been seen as a make-or-break test for this market strategy, and so far it is passing.

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