Forecasting the Energy Industry: Open Call for the Inaugural Season of a Fantasy Energy LeagueThis article is a rehosting of the full article that first appeared on Renewable Energy World, an online outlet for the magazine that covers industry, policy, technology, finance, and markets for all renewable technologies where I contribute as a featured writer.  Fantasy sports and the energy industry might not have much in common on the surface, but I've always personally approached these two passions of mine in similar ways: obsessively reading the breaking news, following my favorite experts on social media, and diving deep into the available statistics to create graphs and come up with hot takes. Hell, I even went so far as to combine these seemingly unrelated topics by creating a fantasy football roster of NFL players who were leaders for renewable energy, environmental advocacy, and other green causes. I think the fantasy sports model can be used to encourage an academic and educational exercise in the energy industry, so it struck me--  I should establish the first fantasy league for the energy sector! [caption id=attachment_2043 align=aligncenter width=1429] Source: Breaking Energy[/caption] Absurd, you say? Perhaps, but the fantasy sports format has already been successfully adapted for The Bachelor, box office performances, e-Sports, and The Great British Bake Off. With that in mind, I propose to gather a group of energy wonks to compete in predicting certain outcomes of the industry to test who is truly the favorite forecaster, the oracle of outlooks, the premier prognosticator! (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); In reading about the energy industry, I've found there's no shortage of scoffing at various energy forecasting efforts-- whether that's claiming that the Energy Information Administration (EIA)  underestimates the coming growth of renewables in their forecasts or accusing the International Energy Agency (IEA) of undermining the global shift from fossil fuels. With all these people saying they know better, it seems like the perfect opportunity to challenge experts to put their money where their mouths are. Game structure The keys to finding something that can be shoehorned into the fantasy sports format are ensuring that an easily quantifiable set of data exists to use for results (comparable to football players' stats) and choosing topics with a variety of options from which to choose  (akin to there being many different quarterbacks to choose from so each fantasy team can select one). With that in mind, the dataset I've identified as the central tenant for this inaugural season of Fantasy Energy League is EIA's State Carbon Emissions Data. [caption id=attachment_2653 align=alignnone width=915] Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration[/caption] These annually released data (last updated a month ago) provide measures of CO2 emissions in each state (and Washington DC), broken out by sector (residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and electric power). The separation by state and sector makes for the perfect structure for the Fantasy Energy League: Each participating member of the league will take turns drafting a combination of sector and state (e.g., one person might select Pennsylvania's transportation sector and the next person can pick Texas's residential sector). Each state/sector combination can only be selected by one team. The draft will end when each league member has one state selected for each of the five sectors, though they can select their sectors in whatever order they choose. To allow for adequate research and to account for the participants' busy schedules, the draft will be conducted via email. The goal of these selections will be to assemble a team with the greatest aggregate decline in absolute CO2 emissions from one year to the next, representing the 'team' that successfully cleans up the energy industry the most. Important to note that this dataset lags by about 22 months, so the data for 2016 was just released on October 31, 2018. As such, this league would be predicting where the 2017 data falls with a final reveal date in October 2019. This process may seem backwards because the emissions for 2017 have already occurred-- wouldn't this be like picking a fantasy football team after the season's already been played? Not entirely true, I'd say it's comparable to playing fantasy football after the season has already been played but the only available information is each NFL team's playbook. The 2017 policy and market playbooks for each state in 2017 (e.g., some pledged to increase renewable energy, some shuttered coal plants, and others benefited from their adoption of California's Clean Car Standards) are known-- but the data on how those actions will affect their CO2 emissions are not yet readily available. In the end, teams will make picks based on the combination of energy policy, market trends, and technology developments they think are the most effective in reducing CO2 emissions.  So not only does this Fantasy Energy League offer the opportunity to demonstrate your forecasting skills, but it's also an avenue to prove which efforts to fight climate change are the optimal solution. Do you target New York's transportation sector because it had the second greatest electric vehicle sales in 2017 or does the failure to implement congestion pricing scare you off? Are you enticed by Illinois's 2% drop in coal production in 2017 or are you scared about nuclear production dropping by 1% along with it? Do you target populous states like Florida and Texas where the larger energy sectors provide more chances for reductions, or do they scare you off because they also provide more opportunities for emission increases? [caption id=attachment_2646 align=alignnone width=567] Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration[/caption] Finding participants and next steps! The first order of business is assembling the participants of this Fantasy Energy League. I'd love it to include a cross-section of different disciplines  and perspectives. I'll sort through who expresses interest and determine the ideal makeup of the league and how many teams we'll have. Once I have enough people interested, we'll move on to next steps-- and check back to this site for updates along the way as I plan to publish feature articles of a pre-draft assessment of the participants, post-draft debrief to breakdown teams, a midyear check-in, and finally return back after next year's data releases to declare a victor. If you're interested in reading more but don't necessarily want to participate yourself then please pass this along to energy experts who you think would be a perfect fit. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines, eternal Fantasy Energy League glory awaits! So, what do you say-- think you can stack up? Reach out to me on Twitter, comment on this post below, or send me an email to let me know if you're interested in joining the Fantasy Energy League.  (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); If you enjoyed this post and you would like to get the newest posts from the Chester Energy and Policy blog delivered straight to your inbox, please consider subscribing today.  To read more insights into the energy industry, see this state-by-state analysis of the U.S. energy mix,  this post on the U.S. Wind Turbine Database, and this article on how split incentives create issues in the energy field.   About the author: Matt Chester is an energy analyst in Washington DC, studied engineering and science & technology policy at the University of Virginia, and operates this blog and website to share news, insights, and advice in the fields of energy policy, energy technology, and more. For more quick hits in addition to posts on this blog, follow him on Twitter @ChesterEnergy.
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Your Rights in the Border ZoneOn Jan. 19, two Border Patrol agents boarded a Greyhound bus at a Fort Lauderdale station and proceeded to question passengers row by row. The bus, traveling from Orlando to Miami, had not crossed any international borders. Despite its domestic route, the agents interrogated passengers, ultimately detaining a Jamaican national who, Border Patrol claims, had overstayed her tourist visa. This story is not an isolated occurrence, and the practice is hardly new. However, a recent uptick in this type of immigration operation — from New York to Florida — has caused fear among travelers and immigrant communities. It has also raised important questions about the scope of immigration officials’ authority and the rights one has in these encounters.Are immigration officials allowed to stop people in places wholly inside the U.S.?U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency tasked with patrolling the U.S. border and areas that function like a border, claims a territorial reach much larger than you might imagine. A federal law says that, without a warrant, CBP can board vehicles and vessels and search for people without immigration documentation “within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States.” These “external boundaries” include international land borders but also the entire U.S. coastline.What is a “reasonable distance”?The federal government defines a “reasonable distance” as 100 air miles from any external boundary of the U.S. So, combining this federal regulation and the federal law regarding warrantless vehicle searches, CBP claims authority to board a bus or train without a warrant anywhere within this 100-mile zone. Two-thirds of the U.S. population, or about 200 million people, reside within this expanded border region, according to the 2010 census. Most of the 10 largest cities in the U.S., such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, fall in this region. Some states, like Florida, lie entirely within this border band so their entire populations are impacted.Are there limitations to immigration officials’ power? The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against arbitrary searches and seizures of people and their property, even in this expanded border area. Furthermore, as a general matter, these agents’ jurisdiction extends only to immigration violations and federal crimes. And, depending on where you are in this area and how long an agent detains you, agents must have varying levels of suspicion to hold you.We will examine specific scenarios where one might encounter CBP in more depth, but here are your key rights. These apply to every situation, outside of customs and ports of entry.You have the right to remain silent or tell the agent that you’ll only answer questions in the presence of an attorney, no matter your citizenship or immigration status. You do not have to answer questions about your immigration status. You may simply say that you do not wish to answer those questions. If you choose to remain silent, the agent will likely ask you questions for longer, but your silence alone is not enough to support probable cause or reasonable suspicion to arrest, detain, or search you or your belongings.A limited exception does exist: for people who do have permission to be in the U.S. for a specific reason and for, usually, a limited amount of time (a “nonimmigrant” on a visa, for example), the law does require you to provide information about your immigration status if asked. While you can still choose to remain silent or decline a request to produce your documents, people in this category should be aware that they could face arrest consequences. If you want to know whether you fall into this category, you should consult an attorney.Generally, an immigration officer cannot detain you without “reasonable suspicion.” Reasonable suspicion is less robust than probable cause, but it is certainly not just a hunch or gut feeling. An agent must have specific facts about you that make it reasonable to believe you are committing or committed, a violation of immigration law or federal law.If an agent detains you, you can ask for their basis for reasonable suspicion, and they should tell you.An immigration officer also cannot search you or your belongings without either “probable cause” or your consent. If an agent asks you if they can search your belongings, you have the right to say no.An immigration officer cannot arrest you without “probable cause.”That means the agent must have facts about you that make it probable that you are committing, or committed, a violation of immigration law or federal law.Your silence alone meets neither of these standards. Nor does your race or ethnicity alone suffice for either probable cause or reasonable suspicion.Other important factors to keep in mind:If an agent asks you for documents, what you need to provide differs depending on your immigration status. U.S. citizens do not have to carry proof of citizenship on their person if they are in the United States. If you have valid immigration documents and are over the age of 18, the law does require you to carry those documents on you. If you are asked by an immigration agent to produce them, it is advisable to show the documents to the agent or you risk being arrested. If you are an immigrant without documents, you can decline the officer’s request. An agent may likely ask you more questions if you decline a request. No matter what category you fall into, never provide false documents to immigration officials.People who have entered the U.S. without inspection by an immigration official may be subject to expedited removal from the U.S. Expedited removal is a summary deportation that bypasses an immigration judge. The federal government says that it will only attempt to apply expedited removal to individuals who have entered the United States without inspection in the last 14 days, have been encountered by an immigration officer within 100 miles of the border, and meet certain other criteria. If you are told that you are subject to expedited removal but do not fall within that category, you should let the agents know. Also, if you fear persecution if returned to your country of origin, you should immediately inform the agents of your fear.How Does This Work in Real Life?CBP on Buses and TrainsAs part of its immigration enforcement efforts, CBP boards buses and trains in the 100-mile border region either at the station or while the bus is on its journey. More than one officer usually boards the bus, and they will ask passengers questions about their immigration status, ask passengers to show them immigration documents, or both. These questions should be brief and related to verifying one’s lawful presence in the U.S. Although these situations are scary, and it may seem that CBP agents are giving you an order when they ask you questions, you are not required to answer and can simply say you do not wish to do so. As always, you have the right to remain silent.Refusing to answer CBP’s questions may result in the agent persisting with questioning. If this occurs, you should ask if you are being detained. Another way to ask this is to say, “am I free to leave?” If the agent wishes to actually detain you — in other words, you are not free to leave — the agent needs at least reasonable suspicion that you committed an immigration violation to do so. Also, if an agent begins to question you about nonimmigration matters, say to ask about drug smuggling, or if they haul you off the bus, they need at least reasonable suspicion that you committed an offense in order to briefly detain you while they investigate. You can ask an agent for their basis for detaining you, and they should tell you.The longer CBP detains you the more suspicion they need — eventually they will need probable cause once the detention goes from brief to prolonged. If the agent arrests you or searches the interior of your belongings, they need probable cause that you committed an offense. You can ask the agent to tell you their basis for probable cause, and they should be able to articulate their suspicion.CBP at Immigration CheckpointsCBP operates immigration checkpoints along the interior of the United States at both major roads — permanent checkpoints — and secondary roads — “tactical checkpoints”— as part of its enforcement strategy. Depending on the checkpoint, there may be cameras installed throughout and leading up to the checkpoint and drug-sniffing dogs stationed with the agents. At these checkpoints, every motorist is stopped and asked about their immigration status. Agents do not need any suspicion to stop you and ask you questions at a lawful checkpoint, but their questions should be brief and related to verifying immigration status. They can also visually inspect your vehicle. Some motorists will be sent to secondary inspection areas at the checkpoint for further questioning. This should be done only to ask limited and routine questions about immigration status that cannot be asked of every motorist in heavy traffic. If you find yourself at an immigration checkpoint while you are driving, never flee from it — it’s a felony.As before, when you are at a checkpoint, you can remain silent, inform the agent that you decline to answer their questions or tell the agent you will only answer questions in the presence of an attorney. Refusing to answer the agent’s question will likely result in being further detained for questioning, being referred to secondary inspection, or both. If an agent extends the stop to ask questions unrelated to immigration enforcement or extends the stop for a prolonged period to ask about immigration status, the agent needs at least reasonable suspicion that you committed an immigration offense or violated federal law for their actions to be lawful. If you are held at the checkpoint for more than brief questioning, you can ask the agent if you are free to leave. If they say no, they need reasonable suspicion to continue holding you. You can ask an agent for their basis for reasonable suspicion, and they should tell you. If an agent arrests you, detains you for a protracted period or searches your belongings or the spaces of your vehicle that are not in plain view of the officer, the agent needs probable cause that you committed an immigration offense or that you violated federal law. You can ask the agent to tell you their basis for probable cause. They should inform you.CBP Roving PatrolsCBP conducts yet another interior enforcement activity: roving patrols. During these patrols, CBP drives around the interior of the U.S. pulling motorists over. For these operations, the Supreme Court requires CBP to have reasonable suspicion that the driver or passengers in the car they pulled over committed an immigration violation or a federal crime. If they do pull you over, an agent’s questions should be limited to the suspicion they had for pulling you over and the agents should not prolong the stop for questioning unrelated to the purpose of the stop. Any arrest or prolonged stop requires probable cause. You may ask the agent their basis for probable cause, and they should tell you. In this situation, both the driver and any passengers have the right to remain silent and not answer questions about their immigration status.Encounters with CBP, or any law enforcement agent, can be intimidating and scary. It is always best to stay calm and be courteous when dealing with immigration officials. If you believe your rights have been violated, you should contact an attorney.