BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - A new report led by Resources for the Future serves up a “menu” of 35 policy options to help workers and communities adapt in the energy transition. In light of the Biden administration’s recent pledge to cut US emissions by 50–52% of 2005 levels, this report lays out the costs and benefits of policies that can reduce emissions while promoting fairness for communities affected by the transition to clean energy.
RFF collaborated with a team of 15 scholars across the United States—including Professors Sanya Carley and David Konisky from the Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs—to analyze policy options that touch on several categories: energy infrastructure and resilience, environmental remediation, economic development, workforce, and manufacturing and innovation.
“It is important that we account for the many and wide-ranging populations that may be adversely affected by the energy transition and adopt policies that support each of them,” Carley said. “This report presents such a package of policy options, with useful information on costs and expected outcomes. This is a must-read for policymakers, scholars, and practitioners alike.”
Each researcher identified specific proposals and drew from available evidence to assess policy design and estimate outcomes, including effects on the environment, economy, and employment. Many of the proposals analyzed in this report are currently under consideration in Congress, and the report’s authors have identified relevant pieces of legislation and sections of the US Code.
“The transition to a cleaner energy economy is fraught with difficult challenges, and this report provides concrete policies and actions that the federal government can consider to effectively respond,” Konisky said.
Previous RFF research has stated that there is no “silver bullet” solution to supporting an equitable energy transition. However, policymakers in the United States and around the world will make decisions in the coming years about how best to implement fair policies as the energy landscape changes. This report, while not a comprehensive package, seeks to provide broad insight on the best path forward.
“Achieving an equitable energy transition will require many policy pieces,” RFF Fellow and report editor Daniel Raimi said. “We hope that the pros, cons, and other considerations we have laid out in these pages can better inform decisionmakers and others about the potential effects of different policy options.”
The complete team of contributors included:
- Aurora Barone (Environmental Defense Fund)
- Sanya Carley (Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs)
- David Foster (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
- Emily Grubert (Georgia Institute of Technology)
- Julia Haggerty (Montana State University)
- Jake Higdon (Environmental Defense Fund)
- Michael Kearney (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
- David Konisky (Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs)
- Jennifer Michael (Resources for the Future)
- Gilbert Michaud (Ohio University)
- Sade Nabahe (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
- Nina Peluso (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
- Daniel Raimi (Resources for the Future)
- Molly Robertson (Resources for the Future)
- Tony Reames (University of Michigan)
About the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
The O’Neill School is a world leader in public and environmental affairs and is the largest school of public administration and public policy in the United States. In the 2022 "Best Graduate Public Affairs Programs" by U.S. News & World Report, the O'Neill School is one of the top-ranked programs in the country. Five of its specialty programs are ranked in the top-five listings, including top-ranked concentrations in environmental policy and management; nonprofit management; and public finance.