Federal Climate Policy

Climate Policy’s “Plan B”

As the initial top-down approach failed, a new approach to climate policy crystalized.

My last blog post told the story of the original top-down approach to climate policy. It was supposed to feature binding restrictions on carbon emissions in a global treaty and federal legislation. By 2012, it was plain that neither half of this “Plan A” strategy was in the offing. Building on trends that had begun …

CONTINUE READING

30 Years of U.S. Climate Policy

Here’s a timeline of the victories and defeats since 1992.

Thirty years ago, the United States joined the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The decades since then have been a saga of victories and defeats for U.S. climate policy.  Progress has been made under one President, only to be battered down by the next one. This to-and-fro is a sobering reminder of how …

CONTINUE READING

IRA’s Impact

The new law is a Big Deal. Or more precisely, a REALLY Big Deal.

IRA, the Inflation Reduction Act, is clearly the biggest climate legislation ever passed in the United States.  The law will provide  $379 billion in subsidies to clean energy in the form of direct payments and tax credits. Subsidies aren’t the ideal way to cut emissions, because it’s impossible to target them to the precise behavioral …

CONTINUE READING

What the Supreme Court Left Standing

No, the Court didn’t eliminate EPA’s ability to fight climate change.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the West Virginia case left many people with the impression that it eliminated the government’s power to regulate carbon emissions. There are quite a number of areas of climate law that the Supreme Court has left untouched. Here’s the EPA authority the Court hasn’t touched: EPA’s jurisdiction over greenhouse gases.  …

CONTINUE READING

After the Court Rules: Gaming out Responses to a Cutback in EPA Authority

The Supreme Court is almost certain to cut back on EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. What then?

In West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court is reviewing Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) itself no longer has any practical relevance, but there’s every reason to predict the Court will strike it down anyway. The ruling will also restrict EPA’s future options. The big question is what the Biden Administration …

CONTINUE READING

Today’s Vaccine Cases: Implications for Climate Change Regulation

Today’s ruling are (somewhat) good news in terms of West Virginia v. EPA?

Today, the Court’s conservative Justices split the difference in two cases involving vaccine mandates, striking down OSHA’s mandate but upholding a more limited mandate for healthcare workers. The cases also split the conservative Justices themselves, with three hardliners (Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch) seeking a more activist ruling in the OSHA case and dissenting in the …

CONTINUE READING

How Biden’s Climate-Related Financial Risk Order Relates to State Policy

The federal government takes a big step, but state leaders still have a role to play

On Thursday the White House issued an Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk that outlines a key plank in the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government approach to addressing climate change. Whereas the Trump Administration sought to actively block consideration of environmental factors in investment decision-making, the Biden Administration is directing financial and climate regulators to develop strategies …

CONTINUE READING

Gates on Climate

A guide to updating the global operating system.

The original Microsoft operating system was called QDOS, for Quick and Dirty  Operating System. Bill Gates’s new book might well have been called “A Quick and Dirty Guide to Climate Policy.”   The book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, provides a concise overview of climate policy, detailing the threat of the climate crisis and a …

CONTINUE READING

Where “Old King Coal” Still Holds Court

Use of coal is dwindling across the country, but very unevenly.  We need to give it a good shove.

The NY Times ran a story last week about a coal area in Wyoming that is embracing renewable energy as its economic future.  Residents of Carbon County, WY,  aren’t necessarily happy about it but they recognize that the times are changing. As one county commissioner said,  “You can stand at the tracks when the train …

CONTINUE READING

Institutional Capacity Building for the Energy Transition

State agencies will need help to deal with a fast-changing energy system.

The COVID pandemic has provided a vivid picture of what happens when ill-prepared governments are suddenly hit with huge responsibilities.  Underfunded state and local public health agencies were overwhelmed, while governors and local officials found themselves struggling to obtain and distribute vital supplies, from respirators to vaccines. Efforts to accelerate the transition away from carbon, …

CONTINUE READING

TRENDING