Over the summer of 2014, I worked at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) in Washington, D.C. as the Energy Policy Intern. It was a great summer to join the BPC energy team as a number of energy-related developments occurred in Washington. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its Clean Power Plan proposal for existing power plants while events like the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit took place.
I had the privilege of working on a variety of projects at any given time and publish work on the BPC blog, but I worked throughout the summer on projects over the following topics:
Methane hydrates was the topic for my personal research project at BPC. This began about halfway through my internship, and the goal was to display independent research capabilities that had been learned throughout my time at BPC.
The project began as a general look at the state of methane hydrates as a source of natural gas. I created a general literature review of methane hydrates development, as well as a general fact sheet about what methane hydrates are and what their possible future uses could be. Later, I limited my research question to one surrounding the question of innovation: if innovation of methane hydrates occurs at a substantial rate, would their development alone allow for a sustainable energy future?
This research was done in the form of policy memos; I collected information and created possible research topics regarding the state of fuel cells in vehicles. The memo was written for the purpose of general material to inform the energy team. Most specifically, I focused on fuel cell vehicle applications and the state of research and development for this technology.
American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC)
The goal of AEIC is to research and display the importance of government support for energy research and development efforts. I worked closely with AEIC to run their Summer 2014 Driving Resources Into Energy Innovation event, which was a day-long event with panels and discussions on the state of energy innovation with government support. I performed administrative support, such as tabling the event, organizing attendees, and creating bulletins with information about AEIC speakers.
In addition, I aided with the research preparation leading up to the event. First, I assisted in the compilation of case reviews previously published by AEIC, which included vehicle technology partnerships, aeroderivative gas turbines, unconventional gas production, advanced diesel engines, and and low-emissivity windows. The compilation also involved an update of data surrounding the issues, and I created memos for each area with updated data on research and development. Second, I wrote weekly newsletters to members of BPC’s energy team regarding current events on energy innovation. This involved reviewing prominent energy news sources and Congressional hearings daily.
Clean Air Act Section 111(d)
My duties on the BPC 111(d) project were mostly administrative, but dealt heavily with the politics surrounding the announcement of the Clean Power Plan that would cut carbon pollution from power plants. Each day, I would read through the public comments on the proposed rule; BPC compiled comments from state and industry representatives regarding the proposed rule. This gave me great insight into the political language surrounding the 111(d) rule, and also provided me with an opportunity to navigate the rulings of federal agencies.
This research project involved looking at presidential nominations within the Department of Energy; the goal of the data collection I performed was to determine whether the intense backlog in nominations was due to polarization in Congress rather than conditions related to the qualifications of the nominees. To do this, I did a historical analysis. I collected the following dates of nominee history from the beginning of the Department of Energy: when an office was first held, when they left office, the period of no nomination from the president, and the period of a pending nomination. After collecting the data and creating the timeline of Department of Energy nominations, I wrote a blog post about the positions that were vacant during the summer of 2014 and the historical trends for nominations in those positions.
The positions which I focused on most extensively, or the positions that were vacant during the summer of 2014, were the Deputy Secretary of Energy, the Under Secretary of Science, the Director of the Office of Science, and the Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy.
Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)
BPC’s work on the RFS is a long term project evaluating the impact and effectiveness of the 2007 reforms. To achieve this, BPC has held numerous meetings of an advisory group with industry representatives to analyze current and possible mechanisms to improve the RFS. My role in the summer 2014 meeting was to help in preparation efforts and attend the advisory group meeting to take notes.