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Earth Day: RAND Energy and Environment Research

This Sunday, April 22nd, will mark the 41st annual Earth Day, a day established to recognize the importance of environmental stewardship. The RAND Corporation's Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program helps lawmakers put policy proposals in context by analyzing the effects of existing and proposed energy policies on the environment. Building on a long history of policy research, RAND helps balance the need for environmental protections and economic development.

Recent RAND reports exploring issues related to energy and environment include:

Energy Services Analysis: An Alternative Approach for Identifying Opportunities to Reduce Emissions of Greenhouse Gases
This report finds that energy services analysis--addressing energy consumption by changing how a service is delivered, rather than consumed--can lead to greater reductions in energy use and greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions than conventional approaches. Using the case study of e-readers to demonstrate that the electronic dissemination of written news results in reductions in GHG emissions, the authors demonstrate that technical improvements in an industry may not generate per capita reductions in energy use as large as reductions through changing the means of delivery.

Making the Connection: Beneficial Collaboration Between Army Installations and Energy Utility Companies
U.S. Army installations consume substantial amounts of energy, and the Army is seeking ways to conserve resources and cut costs. RAND conducted a study to address how the Army could collaborate with utility companies to reduce energy consumption. This report discusses the barriers to such collaboration, and how these barriers can best be addressed.

Alternative Fuels for Military Applications
Every branch of the U.S. military has established programs to reduce dependence on fossil fuels in tactical weapon systems such as aircraft and combat ships. Though a number of alternative fuels can meet military requirements, it is uncertain how much these fuels will cost and what effect they will have in terms of GHG emissions. This report examines which alternative fuels might be candidates for military applications in the near future, and discusses the economic viability, technical readiness, and lifecycle GHG emissions for these fuels. The authors conclude that Department of Defense goals for alternative fuel use should be based on potential national benefits, since the use of alternative fuels has no direct military benefit over the use of conventional fuels. The authors also find that prospects for the level of commercial production of alternative fuels necessary for military applications are highly uncertain.

Improving the Energy Performance of Buildings: Learning from the European Union and Australia
More than a third of the primary energy used in developed countries is for the purposes of heating, cooling, lighting, and otherwise powering buildings. This report analyzes key insights from recent measures taking by the European Union and Australia to create policies to promote energy efficiency in buildings and to address market features that make energy efficiency difficult to achieve. The report's authors argue that these insights should be taken into account as the United States considers similar policy approaches.

The Economic Costs of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Under a U.S. National Renewable Electricity Mandate
The electricity sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the U.S. Many states have passed and Congress has considered Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), mandates that specific percentages of electricity be generated from renewable resources. The authors perform a technical and economic assessment and estimate the economic costs and net GHG reductions from a national 25 percent RPS by 2025 relative to coal-based electricity. This policy would reduce GHG emissions by about 670 million metric tons per year, 11 percent of 2008 U.S. emissions. The first 100 million metric tons could be abated for less than $36/metric ton. However, marginal costs climb to $50 for 300 million metric tons and to as much as $70/metric ton to fulfill the RPS. The total economic costs of such a policy are about $35 billion annually.

If you are interested in receiving hard copies of any of these reports or discussing the reports with RAND energy experts, please contact me at or (703) 413-1100 x5320.


Matthew Dicker
Legislative Analyst
RAND Corporation
1200 South Hayes Street
Arlington, VA 22202-5050
Office: (703) 413-1100 x5320

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