After Trump

Suppose we get a pro-climate-action unified government. What then?

Someday, the stars will surely come into alignment and Congress will be able to pass climate legislation.  A national cap-and-trade scheme or a carbon tax would be definite possibilities.  But let’s suppose they aren’t politically feasible, maybe because of opposition from progressive on equity grounds, or maybe because for some reason the public rejects them.  What are the other options?  Here are some thoughts:

  1. Existing ideas. Two ideas that are already on the table are an increase in the gas tax and a national renewable portfolio standard, requiring a minimum percentage of electricity come from renewables in every state. Both good ideas, though the gas tax might be difficult politically.
  2. Codify Obama’s Initiatives. Follow the lead of the Obama Administration, providing explicit statutory mandates to support the Clean Power, reductions in methane emissions, bans on mountaintop coal mining, CCS with all new and so forth.
  3. Strengthen federalism. Authorize states to require imported goods (including electricity and fuels)) comply with the state’s carbon regulations based their full lifecycle from production to use or disposal. Also provide that FERC preemption will not apply to any state climate change policy.
  4. Promote electrification. Expand the approach of the Clean Power Plan, so that in regulating any industry’s emissions of any kind, EPA could consider mandating changes in fuel sources or electrification combined with carbon-free sourcing of power. Also, create a mandate for electrical vehicles.
  5. Deal with Vehicle Pollution. Create a permanent preemption waiver for all California restrictions on carbon emissions from vehicles (subject to wide limits to prevent abuse). Impose an emissions mandates or vehicles in 2030. And require emissions testing of diesel trucks at weigh stations. Permanently end federal funding of new or expanded limited access highways – we have enough freeways.

This list doesn’t include spending measures.  There’s a lot Congress could do there – just look at the stimulus funding after the crash.  And ramping up funding for innovative energy technologies (ARPA-E) may even have bipartisan support.

 

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Reader Comments

6 Replies to “After Trump”

  1. What about the US ratification and implementation of the Kigali Amendment to reduce our use of hydrofluorocarbons, a huge cause of climate change? This issue seems to get very little attention.

    1. Yes, the Kigali Amendment should definitely be on the list. It should long-since have been ratified, since even the industry wants to do it.

  2. Re: After Trump
    Another issue that has been ignored is invigoration of the Clean Water Act. Since the CWAs enactment the facts on the ground have changed radically in many ways. One strong example is the impact of Big Agriculture on our waterways; virtually every stream in corn/soy country is polluted and getting worse from year-to-year. Most of these streams are outside the demographic of the major environmental NGOs, i.e., east and west coast, and therefore the battle has fallen to small, cash and volunteer strapped local groups, who are overwhelmed by the legal and political strength of the seed, chemical and animal feeding industries, many of which have now reached the status of economic monopoly.
    It has been suggested that we need to draft a model CWA revision, and begin to make it an issue.

    John Davidson
    fly-over zone

  3. Dan said;
    “….Someday, the stars will surely come into alignment and Congress will be able to pass climate legislation. A national cap-and-trade scheme or a carbon tax would be definite possibilities…..”

    Dear Dan,
    As you plainly know by now, cap-and-trade schemes and carbon taxes have no measurable effect on global climate and do not mitigate climate change not even a little bit. So going forward, climate legislation will never happen regardless of President Trump and the GOP. It’s over and done with, never to rise again, be happy.

    1. Yes, the early bold proactive initiatives begun under Eisenhower in 1958 when Edward Teller warned of the danger of global warming produced by carbon dioxide just haven’t worked at all. We should definitely scrap the carbon tax Kennedy signed and especially the renewable energy mandate Nixon implemented and Reagan’s expansion of the efforts by Carter to develop renewable energy.

      (Teller did in fact give speeches to both the ACS in 1958 and the API in 1959, and of course Carter did initiate research in renewable energy, especially including OTEC and kelp farming, which might actually have negative carbon emissions.)

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About Dan

Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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