U.S. Climate Law: A Broad & Rapidly Growing Field
There’s a lot of law relating to climate change. A lot!
In preparing to teach a course on climate law, I was really struck by how broad and rich the field has become. Back in the day, it was nearly all international law, but nowadays there’s a huge amount of U.S. domestic law.
Most people, even those who work on the field, tend to focus on just a few elements. Cinnamon Carlarne and I have written a book that tries to give an overview of the whole subject, including U.S. and international law. I can’t do that in the confines of the blog post, but an outline should give you a sense of just the wide sweep of U.S. climate policy. Here goes:
A. Administrative law questions, including the major questions doctrine.
B. Standing based on climate impacts
C. Social Cost of Carbon
E. Climate science
F. Climate justice
II. EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA)
A. Standards for carbon and methane emissions from new sources
Permitting requirements for carbon emissions from new stationary sources of major sources of existing pollutants.
B. Standards for existing stationary carbon sources (focused on power plants to date).
C. Standards for emissions from new vehicles.
D. Vehicle biofuels requirements.
III. Climate change under other federal statutes.
A. Climate change as substantial impact requiring discussion in environmental impact statement.
B. Climate change as reason for threatened or endangered status under Endangered Species Act.
C. SEC rules on disclosure of climate-related risks.
IV. Federal energy policy
A. Investment and incentives for clean technologies under the Inflation Reduction Act.
B. Energy efficiency standards for new appliances and lighting sources.
C. Nuclear power regulation
D. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rules bearing on electricity transmission
E. FERC rules for wholesale markets that impact renewable energy.
F. FERC pipeline regulation (natural gas and hydrogen).
G. Rules relating to renewable and fossil fuel development on public lands and offshore.
V. State climate and energy policy
A. Renewable portfolio standards.
B. Cap-and-trade systems
C. California authority to regulate new vehicles
D. Electric vehicle and biofuel policies
E. Transportation planning and land use policies
F. Litigation against carbon emitters and fossil fuel producers
G. Federalism limits on states (dormant commerce clause, preemption)
A. Coastal areas and flood plains
C. Heat waves and wildfires
D. Biodiversity and ecosystems
E. Other impacts (health, agriculture, etc.)
F. Takings issues
A. Carbon capture and sequestration (biological or otherwise)
B. Solar radiation management
If I’ve missed something you think is really important to US climate policy, I guess that only goes to prove my point about the breadth and depth of the field.