Climate Policy at the Turn of the Century: The Death of “Plan A”

The original plan involved top-down global and US emission limits. They never happened.

When the campaign to cut carbon emissions began in the last decade of the 20th Century, there seemed to be a clear path forward. International negotiations would begin with a framework convention, followed by a later global agreement capping carbon emissions. Within the US, Congress would enact legislation cutting carbon emissions. By the end of …


John Dingell, 1926-2019

The Surprising Environmental Record of Detroit’s Biggest Congressional Defender

There’s an old story about Rep. John Dingell, the long-running chair of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, who died yesterday at the age of 92, and served in the House longer than anyone in American history. Outside the office of the Committee, there is a huge picture of the Earth, taken from the Apollo …


The Downward Political Spiral of a Declining Industry

As the coal industry weakens economically, it also loses political clout.

Tighter regulation contributes to an environmentally dirty industry’s economic decline, which reduces its political clout, which allows more regulation, further weakening the industry.  Coal is prime example. The coal industry’s economic plight is well-known.  Coal production is the lowest since a major strike 35 years ago. In fact, my colleagues at the business school report that coal …


The future of climate politics (Pt. 1)

I’m a little late to the game here, but I’ve finally had a chance to read Harvard Prof. Skocpol’s post mortem of why she thinks cap-and-trade legislation failed in the U.S. Congress in 2009-10, and what she thinks the best way forward in the future is.  (Dan blogged about this already here and here; Matt …


The filibuster and environmental law

The filibuster in the U.S. Senate has been (rightfully) in the news quite a bit over the past few years.  The use of the filibuster has dramatically increased in those years, to the point where there is currently a de facto 60-vote supermajority requirement to pass legislation in the Congress.  That has led to a …


Should Obama Go To Copenhagen?

President Obama has, of course, already been to Copenhagen once this year — in his quest to bring the Olympics to Chicago —  and brought nothing home to show for it.  The stakes for the December United Nations Climate Change Conference are obviously much higher:  the negotiation of an international agreement to govern greenhouse gas emissions …


It’s the Enforcement, Stupid!

We rightly celebrate large legislative environmental victories like the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.  Europeans, too, are proud of accomplishments such as the establishment of the European Union Emission Trading System to address greenhouse gas emissions through cap and trade and the passage of sweeping legislation, …


Can EPA kick-start climate legislation?

The San Francisco Chronicle this morning quotes EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson as saying that her agency will soon finalize its greenhouse endangerment finding (notwithstanding the Chamber of Commerce’s absurd demand for an adjudicatory hearing).  As the story says, “Supporters of climate change legislation are hoping the threat of EPA-mandated limits will spur congressional action.” Although …


Pavley-Waxman Hearing at UCLA

As Cara posted yesterday, California State Senator Fran Pavley and Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) hosted a joint Climate Change forum today at UCLA.  As predicted, protesters gathered outside the event but the anti-cap and trade crowd was quite small.  Here are photos showing a few protesters: In contrast to the small number of Waxman opponents, a larger crowd turned …


And You Think Health Care Is Controversial?

In watching the insanity of the debate over health care reform in the past couple of weeks I can’t help but wonder what the debate over climate change legislation will bring.  Lest you think the right wing opponents of health care reform can’t be beat in their intensity and rhetorical outrage, consider the following two …