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Regulating Climate Change with the Clean Air Act

October 13, 2013

On Wednesday, October 30, Vickie Patton ’90, general counsel of the Environmental Defense Fund and Jared Snyder, Assistant Commissioner for Air, Climate and Energy for New York State, joined Professors Richard Revesz and Richard Stewart to discuss the EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

In October, the Supreme Court decided to review only a narrow issue in an expansive DC Circuit Court decision on greenhouse gas regulation. The panel thought that this limited grant of certiorari was excellent news for the future of efforts to combat climate change. In particular, the Court’s decision not to take up the endangerment finding for greenhouse gases leaves intact the administration’s ability to pursue effective climate change policies through the Clean Air Act. “It’s really important the court did not grant review of the endangerment finding,” said Ms. Patton, “That’s the cornerstone.”

Nonetheless, the Court’s decision on the rule regarding Prevention of Significant Deterioration at new and modified sources could have both symbolic and practical effects on EPA’s ability to limit the harmful effects of dirtier, older, grandfathered plants that operate past their useful life.

Finally, the panel considered how EPA can most effectively address the current greenhouse gas pollution from the power sector by crafting flexible mechanisms in its current rulemaking covering existing power plants. Mr. Snyder expressed the hope that the power sector in a state can be viewed as a whole, rather than requiring regulation at the plant level. This will allow, he said, market-based mechanisms like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initative (RGGI) to be used to control CO2 emissions.


October 13, 2013
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