subscribe

Once a day
Get Articles by e-mail:

Also
Get Today's Climate by e-mail:

Climate Science Links

U.S. Government

International

Academic, Non-Governmental

Clean Air Jump-Start

By David Sassoon

Oct 20, 2008

There is a promising and important alternative strategy under discussion by legal experts that fulfills both requirements and opens the door to swift action. Details are still
being worked out, but the fundamental idea is to activate the Clean Air Act – arguably the most cost-effective environmental law in the US. The legal basis for this strategy is strong – the Supreme Court’s decision of April 2007 in Massachusetts v Environmental Protection Agency.

“The high court essentially said the United States currently has a law for regulating carbon dioxide emissions and it’s called the Clean Air Act,” said Prof. John Dernbach
at Widener University Law School. Dernbach, who writes extensively on climate change, co-authored an amicus brief in the landmark case on behalf of 18 prominent climate scientists. “Further, under the standard established by the Court, the science makes it clear that the law must be applied.”

What this means is that two branches of government – Congress, which enacted the law, and the Supreme Court, which confirmed its applicability to carbon dioxide (CO2) – have already set the stage for an executive branch willing to implement the law. The next president can step into office and lay out a comprehensive strategy for a national climate plan that uses the Clean Air Act and identifies areas for Congressional action. The moment is ripe for executive leadership.

The EPA has asked for public comment on how best to apply the law to GHG regulation after offering its own preliminary analysis – the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule-making (ANPR). In the document, EPA staff specifically asked for comment on whether a cap-and-trade mechanism can be used under the Clean Air Act and, if so, how it should be employed.

Robert McKinstry, a partner in the environmental group at the law firm of Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, who also co-authored the amicus brief with Dernbach, is one of many experts who are working to answer the EPA. He believes that the Act can offer a parallel, lower cost, and faster avenue for establishing a national carbon market than completely new legislation. He points to existing regional carbon trading efforts as mechanisms that offer a head start.

Three regional programs are now already in development – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Western Climate Initiative, and the Midwest Governors Greenhouse Gas Accord – with the first set to launch cautiously in January. Taken together, these initiatives to combat global warming now cover half the US population, and state governments are already considering how to harmonize regional trading systems with each other, and with the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme under an effort called ICAP – the International Carbon Action Partnership. In addition, thirty-nine states, and most Canadian provinces and Mexican states, established a Climate Registry to measure emissions, a key cornerstone of an eventual national market.

It is this already-evolving US carbon marketplace that provides the construct around which a national system can evolve from the bottom up, McKinstry believes, given a broad
and full application of the law, that begins with an “endangerment finding.” This finding would require EPA to regulate CO2 by triggering the application of the various interlocking provisions of the law – for example, establishing a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) and requiring states to develop State Implementation Plans (SIPs) for GHG mitigation. Since it is EPA’s job to establish specific requirements for what SIPs must contain, it is through this standard setting, McKinstry believes, that EPA can harmonize state carbon trading markets into a national whole.

It is tricky legal terrain. Many experts do not believe EPA can establish a carbon trading mechanism on its own authority, but they agree that states can, and that EPA can
play the role of regulator. Why not allow the best equipped federal agency to oversee, harmonize and encourage the ongoing development of regional carbon markets, which are already way ahead of anything likely to emerge anytime soon from new federal legislation?

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

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!

college singles

Nice post. we are impressed by the way you produce a clear description of your
topic. Thanks for the information and keep on posting.

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.

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.

I agree

I agree, only general public schooling as well as consciousness applications are essential in informing the actual general public of the clear air tasks and initiatives going ahead within their neighborhood to enhance air high quality.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <p> <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <img> <h1> <h2> <h3> <ul> <li> <ol> <b> <i> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Youtube and google video links are automatically converted into embedded videos.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options