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Clean Air Jump-Start

By David Sassoon

Oct 20, 2008

The article which follows below (and attached as a pdf) is appearing in the current issue of . It examines how the Clean Air Act can be used to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and why the next president might want to use it to jump start climate action.

Though the Clean Air Act is one of the most successful pieces of environmental legislation in American history, it has been largely neglected as a tool that can help solve the climate crisis. One large reason for this is that the Clean Air Act and the EPA itself have been intentionally handcuffed and muzzled by the Bush administration for the last eight years. In fact, when President Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, he was careful to state explicitly that his administration did not consider carbon dioxide to be a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled otherwise in Massachusetts v. EPA, and thereby set in motion a process through which legal experts, EPA career staff and policymakers are now examining the question of how best to apply the complex law to the regulation of greenhouse gases. This includes examining how the law could allow for federal oversight of carbon trading nationally without waiting for passage of new legislation.

Last Thursday, based on an interview with Obama's energy advisor. It said:

Barack Obama will classify carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant that can be regulated should he win the presidential election on Nov. 4, opening the way for new rules on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Democratic senator from Illinois will tell the Environmental Protection Agency that it may use the 1990 Clean Air Act to set emissions limits on power plants and manufacturers, his energy adviser, Jason Grumet, said in an interview.

It could prove to be a game-changing strategy that will alter the lawmaking dynamics in Washington DC. The Clean Air Act offers the next president a powerful mechanism for jump-starting action. The attached article examines how and why. 

Clean Air Jump-Start

by Michael Northrop* and David Sassoon

Environmental Finance, October 2008

The urgency of the current situation cannot be over-emphasized: the latest scientific research tells us that global warming is accelerating at a rate beyond previous
expectations, and that the window for timely response is shrinking quickly. Despite some political efforts to muddy the waters, there is scientific agreement that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must now be stabilized within seven years or the world will face unpredictable and devastating climate-related catastrophes – far beyond the serious impacts already in evidence globally.

Climate action in the US – at a federal standstill for the last eight years – is expected to finally move forward with the inauguration of a new president in 2009. What preparations can be made now to assure action within the first hundred days? Congress is expected to try to move cap-and-trade legislation again while also addressing related issues through other bills – energy, transportation, economic policy, and conservation. But the key question remains – is there a leadership strategy that the next president can initiate to strengthen the likelihood of success?

The latest science demands a strategy that fulfills two requirements without fail: it must provide a policy pathway that will start to reduce emissions immediately; and it must also provide a political pathway that avoids continued political gridlock.

Relying on a single piece of legislation runs the risk of failing to meet one, or both, of these non-negotiable requirements. It could easily take more than seven years to get a federal carbon trading mechanism up, running and working to stabilize emissions. It is also possible that Congressional compromise will water down cap-and-trade emissions targets and worse, undermine existing state and regional efforts.

Attachment Size
Clean Air Jump Start.web_.pdf 280.07 KB

New Kluger

Nice post . keep up the good work. Thanks!!

Totally agree with you. psa

Totally agree with you.

The mountain peaks which used

The mountain peaks which used to be covered with ice through out the year see it only for a few months in a year. Global warming is a reality. It is always the lack of political will which is responsible for a lot of issues like this. <a href="http://freexboxkinectnow.com">Xbox Kinect</a>

Barack Obama will classify

Barack Obama will classify carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant that can be regulated should he win the presidential election on Nov. 4, opening the way for new rules on greenhouse gas emissions. Yes i know!

Action in the first hundred

Action in the first hundred days can set the stage for genuine US re-engagement in the international climate effort in
Copenhagen in 2009 no 2010 ? i dont know yet...

while defenders counter that

while defenders counter that improved environmental air quality has generated more jobs than it has eliminated. Retrenchment is a synonym for reduction or scaling back. A company in the middle of retrenchment, or about to be retrenched, is basically one that is losing money and has to initiate layoffs and compound job loss in order to survive. Company closure can result with too much retrenchment or economic slowdown.

New President

I wonder how the new president has done on this policy. It seems like Obama is not too interested in environmental policy. It is a shame that he is taking so much time trying to work on health care and not on the environment.

Climate change

The trouble with government is that they have a habit of over exaggerating things to get their point across, which leads to people claiming they are lying all together. Just be honest with us for once. Yes climate change is a huge problem, but twisting the truth about it doesn't help anyone.

The mountain peaks which

The mountain peaks which used to be covered with ice through out the year see it only for a few months in a year. Global warming is a reality. It is always the lack of political will which is responsible for a lot of issues like this.

I agree

I agree

Re: Clean Air Jump-Start

A Clean Air Act describes one of a number of pieces of legislation relating to the reduction of smog and air pollution in general. The use by governments to enforce clean air standards has contributed to an improvement in human health and longer life spans. Critics argue it has also sapped corporate profits and contributed to outsourcing, while defenders counter that improved environmental air quality has generated more jobs than it has eliminated. Retrenchment is a synonym for reduction or scaling back. A company in the middle of retrenchment, or about to be retrenched, is basically one that is losing money and has to initiate layoffs and compound job loss in order to survive. Company closure can result with too much retrenchment or economic slowdown. The economy is currently in a retrenched state, and the forecasts are for both a turnaround by years' end, or for extended doom and gloom. It's another word meaning the same bad thing; don't let the conflagration of business terminology confuse you.

GOOD!

Thank you!

It is a known fact that

It is a known fact that green house gases are on the rise and the effect they have on the environment. The mountain peaks which used to be covered with ice through out the year see it only for a few months in a year. Global warming is a reality. It is always the lack of political will which is responsible for a lot of issues like this. I guess its only the awareness and education which can make things better.

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