Environment, Energy, and Economic Development News Archive






2008 and earlier

Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Production Could Offer Major National Benefits — Dec. 10, 2008

piles of coal for a power station, photo courtesy of NREL.gov

The federal government can spark the creation of a commercially competitive coal-to-liquids industry by fostering early development of plants that would produce transportation fuels from coal, as well as by expanding its investment in carbon sequestration technology to help limit, and possibly reduce, greenhouse gas emissions levels.

Western Riverside County Habitat Conservation Plan Progressing, but Needs Fine-Tuning — Nov. 3, 2008

San Jacinto Wildlife Area, CA

Western Riverside County's Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan -- a sweeping effort to protect endangered and threatened species while accelerating the approval of transportation improvements -- has made significant progress, but needs modifying to reach its goals in Southern California's changing economy.

Alternative Fossil Fuels Have Economic Potential but Uncertain Environmental Consequences — Oct. 8, 2008

oil sands mining, photo courtesy of Flickr

Alternative sources of fossil fuels such as oil sands and coal-to-liquids have significant economic promise, but the environmental consequences must also be considered.

Major Technology Progress Needed for 25 Percent Renewable Energy Use to Be Affordable — Jun. 24, 2008

wind power turbines

Dramatic progress in renewable energy technology is needed if the United States desires to produce 25 percent of its electricity and motor vehicle fuel from renewable sources by 2025 without significantly increasing consumer costs.

Long, Unpredictable Delays Found in Louisiana 'The Road Home' Grants to Homeowners — May 27, 2008

Woman by trailer, photo courtesy of FEMA.gov - John Fleck

Louisiana homeowners who sought federally-funded grants through “The Road Home” program for homes damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have had to wait more than eight months on average to receive grants.

Economic Progress of Allegheny County Could be Enhanced by Government Consolidation — Apr. 3, 2008

Pittsburgh Downtown

The City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania could enhance the economic progress of the region if its governments are consolidated, although evidence of such gains in other consolidations is mixed.

Identifying & Reducing Climate-Change Vulnerabilities in Water-Management Plans — Jan. 31, 2008

Water resources

Climate change will affect water supplies in California, but few water-management agencies have formally included it in their plans. Robust decisionmaking methods can help identify vulnerabilities related to climate change and evaluate the most effective options for managing those risks.

Estimating the Value of Water-Use Efficiency in the Intermountain West — Jan. 31, 2008

River in the northwest

Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of water-efficiency programs can be difficult, because not all the benefits are easily quantified. An economic framework based on two tools from the California Urban Water Conservation Council helps estimate the avoided costs and environmental benefits of increasing water-use efficiency.


Benefits and Costs of Increased Water-Use Efficiency in Commercial Buildings — Dec. 12, 2007

Image of a faucet.

This report suggests ways for the owners of commercial buildings to determine how to invest in water-efficient equipment, and uses two configurations of the current RAND headquarters as a case study.

Research and Development Issues for Producing Liquid Fuels from Coal — Sep. 5, 2007

Congressional testimony

Testimony presented before the House Science and Technology Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment discussing the key problems and policy issues associated with developing a domestic coal-to-liquids industry and approaches for Congress in addressing these issues.

Wind Insurance Costly and Scarce on Gulf of Mexico Coast — Jul. 18, 2007

Wind blowing a tree

Many businesses along the Gulf of Mexico coast have had a difficult time obtaining wind insurance coverage since Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma hit in 2005 and have often ended up paying more than twice as much for the insurance as they did previously.

Overcoming the "Resource Curse" — Jun. 27, 2007

Strip Mine

This research focuses on providing guidelines for improving the management of natural resource extraction revenues and also ensuring that the relationships underlying the mismanagement of natural resource revenues are well understood. Policy options available to both state and non-state actors are evaluated. This is a dissertation from the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

Policy Issues for Coal-to-Liquid Development — May 24, 2007

Mined coal

In testimony presented before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, James T. Bartis discusses the key problems and policy issues associated with developing a domestic coal-to-liquids industry.

RAND receives Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence — May 11, 2007

RAND Headquarters

The RAND Corporation received the prestigious Urban Land Institute (ULI) Award for Excellence: The Americas, which recognizes outstanding achievement in land use practice. This award is widely acknowledged as the land use and development community's top honor. The award was given to RAND to recognize the development process undertaken to complete the construction of its new headquarters in Santa Monica, California.

Further Study Warranted on Save the World Air Technology — May 3, 2007

Pumping gas

Save the World Air Inc. should conduct further laboratory studies and in-use testing to determine the effectiveness of its Zero Emission Fuel Saver (ZEFS) technology that is intended to reduce tailpipe pollutants and increase fuel efficiency in gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles.

Characterizing and Communicating Uncertain Climate Change Information for Policy Makers — Feb. 2, 2007

Map of climate change

This multi-year project conducts fundamental research to help improve methods for providing uncertain scientific and economic information to water managers and other policy makers confronted by climate change. The work links new robust decision approaches to computer modeling with survey research and psychology experiments evaluating the impact of different characterizations of uncertainty on people's decisions.


Action Needed to Speed Rebuilding in Hurricane-Damaged Mississippi — Jun. 8, 2006

Photo by Marvin Nauman/FEMA

Tens of thousands of Mississippi families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by hurricanes last year will have a hard time finding replacement housing in the state unless leaders in government and the private sector take action to accelerate the rebuilding of affordable housing.

Evaluating the Viability of 100 Percent Container Inspection at America’s Ports — May 3, 2006

container cargo ship

Currently, only 5 percent of containers arriving at U.S. seaports are inspected. A cost-benefit analysis indicates that 100 percent scanning is not currently feasible, but future technologies and process improvements may improve the cost effectiveness of inspection.

Examining the Role of Energy Efficiency in Homebuying Decisions — May 2, 2006

Energy-inefficient home

The development near Sacramento, Calif., of two new residential housing tracts that offered varying levels of energy efficiency enabled preliminary research into what factors most influence homebuying decisions.

Few Homeowners Buy Flood Insurance When It Is Not Required — Feb. 21, 2006

Photo by Andrea Booher/FEMA Photo

Only about half of homeowners living in some of the most flood-prone areas of the United States buy federal flood insurance, leaving millions of families at risk for severe financial losses when floods strike.


Regional Differences Affect the Price and Demand for Energy — Nov. 23, 2005

power lines

The Department of Energy estimates the impact of energy-efficient technologies based on a national modeling system. To improve results, the system should take into account regional differences in the price-demand relationship for electricity and natural gas.

Refinery Study Highlights Price Volatility, High Demand — Sep. 30, 2005

Image of an oil well.Recent developments in the Gulf Coast have highlighted vulternabilities in the U.S. refining industry. A 2003 study detailed long-term critical trends in the sector that have contributed to today's volatile fuel supplies and rising prices.

Future Potential for Competitively Priced Shale-Derived Oil — Aug. 31, 2005

Shale Oil

In 20 to 30 years, oil shale from the Western United States could become a daily source of millions of barrels of competitively priced oil if technological, environmental and governance issues are resolved.