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Clean Air Act Cases

EME Homer City Generation v. EPA (United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, August 21, 2012).

In this case, the Court was asked to decide whether new EPA regulations defining emissions reduction responsibilities for SOX and NOX for upwind states that are major contributors to air quality problems in downwind states, exceed the scope of the Clean Air Act. The Petitioner challenged the EPA's "Transport Rule" (also referred to as the Cross-State Air Pollution rule and before that as the Clean Air Interstate rule) which defined emission reduction responsibilities for NOx and SOx for states that, because of prevailing weather patterns, are major contributors to air quality problems in downwind states. The rule interprets the "good neighbor" provision of the Clean Air Act, which requires state emissions standards to ensure that in-state sources do not have significant detrimental impacts on air quality in other states. The rule defines the emissions reduction responsibilities of each contributing state under the good neighbor provision and prescribes Federal Implementation Plans to implement those responsibilities at the state level.

Holding: On August 21, 2012, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) vacated the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). The Court's opinion also directed EPA to continue administering the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) until the agency can finalize a replacement. The majority's decision reads the Clean Air Act narrowly and places substantial restrictions on EPA's flexibility in addressing cross-state air pollution issues. In particular, it finds that two elements of the CSAPR exceed EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act: (1) EPA's two-step process for determining each listed upwind state's emission reduction obligations; and (2) EPA's imposition of Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) simultaneously with its quantification of the states' reduction obligations, without first allowing each state to submit a compliant State Implementation Plan (SIP).

First, the court found that the emissions reduction requirements imposed on upwind states were disproportionate in relation to the states' contributions to downwind air pollution problems. The court also concluded that the EPA exceeded its statutory authority by prematurely issuing Federal Implementation Plans to impose obligations on states. Under the Clean Air Act, standards are set at the federal level but states "bear primary responsibility for attaining, maintaining, and enforcing them" through State Implementation Plans. The court held that the EPA should only step in to impose a federal plan when states fail to submit a workable plan. In this case, states were not given the initial right to submit a workable plan, a right granted to them in the Clean Air Act.

Implications: The court's decision vacates the CSAPR, but also directs EPA to continue administering the CAIR. Therefore CAIR will apply until EPA finalizes a new replacement rule.

Potential future rehearing: On October 5, EPA requested a rehearing of the D.C. Circuit's decision vacating the agency's Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). On January 24, 2013 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied the petition for rehearing, and rehearing en banc. On March 29, 2013, the Department of Justice, on behalf of the EPA, filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the D.C. Circuit's decision to vacate the CSPAR. On April 22, nine states, five cities and the District of Columbia urged the Supreme Court to grant U.S. EPA's request to review D.C. Circuit's decision.

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality v. EPA (Fifth Circuit, July 20, 2012).

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality filed a lawsuit in June, 2012, alleging that EPA erroneously rejected state-issued Clean Air Act permits that for the first time included GHG limits. The lawsuit contests EPA's March 23, 2012 order disapproving Title V operating permits for a steel plant in St. James Parrish, Louisiana. EPA rejected the permits because it stated that the plant's cumulative emissions impacts were underestimated by dividing the plant's operations into two permits instead of aggregating them. Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that the permits meet the minimum requirements of the Clean Air Act and that EPA's objection was untimely. This case remains pending at this time.

Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA (United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, June 26, 2012).

Background: The Endangerment Finding, the Tailpipe rule, the Tailoring and Timing rules, (the four rules that were challenged and later upheld in this case) originated with the Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), arguably the most influential climate change decision to date. In Massachusetts, the Supreme Court held that GHGs are "air pollutants" under the Clean Air Act and ordered EPA to come to a science based conclusion as to whether GHG pollution from new motor vehicles causes or contributes to an endangerment of public health and welfare. In December 2009, EPA responded by issuing an Endangerment Finding. The Endangerment Finding concluded that (1) six classes of GHGs endanger public health and welfare by causing global climate change, and (2) the GHGs emitted from new motor vehicles contribute to GHG pollution, which in turn, endangers public health and welfare. The natural outgrowth of the Endangerment Finding was rules imposing greenhouse gas restrictions on automobiles. These rules, collectively known as the Tailpipe Rule, established GHG emission standards for light duty motor vehicles in model years 2012-2016. They were issued by EPA in May 2010 and took effect on January 2, 2011. Finally, EPA determined that the Clean Air Act required major stationary sources of greenhouse gases to obtain construction and operating permits. To avoid overwhelming regulatory burdens on greenhouse gas producers who needed permits, the agency issued Timing and Tailoring Rules (PSD and Title V permitting) The 'Timing Rule" is EPA's ruling regarding when regulations of GHGs would begin whereas the Tailoring Rule establishes what sources are subject to regulation; (it "tailors" the requirements of these Clean Air Act permitting programs to limit covered facilities to the nation's largest greenhouse gas emitters: power plants, refineries, and cement production facilities).

Suit was brought by various state and industry group petitioners, who challenged all four EPA GHG actions (the Endangerment Finding, the Tailpipe Rule, the Timing and the Tailoring rule), alleging that they are based on improper constructions of the Clean Air Act or are otherwise arbitrary and capricious. The Court (U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit) had to decide whether these GHG regulatory rules were legally permissible under the Clean Air Act.

Holding: The Court found that 1) the Endangerment Finding and the Tailpipe Rule were not arbitrary and capricious, 2) EPA's interpretation of the Clean Air Act as it applies to stationary sources is "unambiguously correct" and 3) the petitioners lacked standing to challenge the Timing and Tailoring Rules.

Endangerment Finding: Among other things, petitioners alleged that the Clean Air Act required EPA to consider policy in making its Endangerment Finding. They also challenged the adequacy of the scientific record supporting the Endangerment Finding. The Court rejected these claims, finding that the Clean Air Act precludes EPA from basing the Endangerment Finding on policy considerations and that EPA's ultimate conclusions were based on overwhelming scientific record. Affirming the adequacy of EPA's scientific record, the D.C. Circuit also found that EPA was justified in relying on "major assessments" of climate science produced by the National Academy of Sciences, US GCRP, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other institutions, and emphasized that EPA must be afforded an "extreme degree of deference" on scientific matters within EPA's expertise.

Tailpipe Rule: Petitioners claimed that EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in failing to consider the cost implications of its motor vehicle regulations on stationary sources (i.e., by triggering new source review). Petitioners also alleged that EPA failed to show that the Tailpipe Rule was justified by the risks identified in the Endangerment Finding or that the rule would mitigate those risks. The Court rejected this argument, instead finding that the Clean Air Act imposes a non-discretionary duty on EPA to regulate emissions from motor vehicles once it makes an endangerment finding. Finally, the Court found that the Clean Air Act does not require motor vehicle regulations to achieve a particular level of mitigation, but, even so, noted that EPA did find that the Tailpipe Rule would result in meaningful reductions of GHG emissions. The D.C. Circuit did not reach the merits of petitioner's argument. Rather, the court found that all of the petitioners lacked standing to bring this claim because they failed to demonstrate that the Tailoring Rule caused them "injury in fact," and in addition, even if the rule was repealed this would not remedy the situation.

Note: EPA's authority to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act was unanimously affirmed by the Court in this case. EPA has recently moved forward to finalize more stringent GHG emission standards for motor vehicles for model year 2017-2025.

Building Industry Association of Washington v. Washington State Building Code Council (Ninth Circuit, June 25, 2012).

The Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court decision that found that an energy-efficient building energy code adopted by the Washington Building Code Council in 2009 met the requirements for obtaining an exemption under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). Specifically, the court held that the 2009 Code met all seven requirements for obtaining a building code exemption under the statute. EPCA sets federal energy efficiency guidelines for residential appliances used in buildings, including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. EPCA also requires that states adopt and periodically revise their building energy codes to comply with the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). While EPCA prohibits imposing state regulations that are stricter than those set by the IECC, it does allow for exceptions for state energy codes as long as they meet seven enumerated requirements. In February 2011, the district court held that the Council did not violate EPCA when it enacted the 2009 Code. Specifically, the court held that the 2009 Code met all seven of EPCA's requirements to obtain a building code exception under the statute. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the Code met all seven requirements to obtain an exception.

Las Brisas Energy Center LLC v. EPA (D.C. Circuit Court, filed June 11, 2012) White Stallion Energy Center, LLC v. EPA, (D.C. Circuit Court, filed June 12, 2012).

The Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) Rule (standards administered by the EPA that require power plants to limit their emissions of toxic air pollutants) has been challenged by the coal-fired energy sector, whose various players have filed suit. Upon filing, several developers of new coal-fired Electric Generating Units (EGUs) asked the D.C. Circuit to expedite their challenges to EPA's rule, showing the time sensitive nature of this suit. As the new-unit developers explained, on the one hand, EPA's MATS Rule prevented them from constructing their projects because the standards are so low they cannot be measured or guaranteed; while on the other hand, the proposed GHG New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) would require them to commence construction within one year or be subject to EPA's new proposed standards for greenhouse gas emissions. Though the NSPS allow compliance flexibility by allowing plants to average reductions across years, opponents claim that the standards are difficult for coal fired power plants to meet because the commercialization of the technology is still developing. The D.C. Circuit granted the motion to expedite, severed the new-unit developers' claims from the consolidated case, and put their case on a fast track schedule for briefing and oral argument that will have the case decided by the end of the year. EPA filed response in January, 2013. Limited reconsideration by EPA of new unit standards and startup shutdown and malfunction requirements. See Litigation is currently underway.

Chabot-Las Positas Community College District v. EPA (Ninth Circuit, May 4, 2012).

In this case, the Ninth Circuit upheld the first power plant permit that includes a GHG emission limit. In endorsing the permit, the court found that EPA's decision not to require a 24-hour particulate matter standard in an area re-designated as a nonattainment area during the permitting process was supported by precedent.

Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA (United States District Court for the District of Columbia, March 20, 2012).

Several environmental groups filed an action seeking to force EPA to regulate GHG emissions from aircrafts, ships, and non-road engines used in heavy industrial equipment. According to the complaint, these sources produce about a quarter of the GHG emissions from mobile sources in the United States but have not yet been regulated by EPA. In a July 2011 decision, the district court held that EPA is not required to issue endangerment findings under the Clean Air Act for GHG emissions from marine vessels and non-road vehicles and engines but held that it is required to issue such findings for aircraft engines. EPA moved to dismiss several additional causes of action in the complaint concerning GHG emissions and black carbon from non-road vehicles and engines. The district court denied the motion as moot given that EPA agreed to respond to three outstanding petitions by plaintiffs within ninety days.

Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands v. EPA (Ninth Circuit, February 17, 2012).

Several environmental and Alaska Native groups filed an action in the Ninth Circuit seeking to overturn two air quality permits issued by EPA to Shell for offshore Arctic drilling operations. The permits allow a ship owned by Shell and several support vessels to operate in both the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea. The authorizations are "major source" permits, which allow Shell to emit more than 250 tons of pollutants annually and to adhere to the Clean Air Act's prevention of significant deterioration requirements. Among other things, the plaintiffs contend that greenhouse gases and black carbon from the ships will accelerate the loss of snow and sea ice in the Arctic to the detriment of members of the Alaska Native communities. This case is currently pending.

Texas v. EPA (Fifth Circuit, February 24, 2011).

Texas and two industry groups (the Utility Air Regulatory Group and the SIP/FIP advocacy group) filed lawsuits challenging an EPA rule known as the "greenhouse gas SIP Call," which requires states to change their air quality state implementation plans to allow them to issue new source review permits for GHG emissions from large new and modified stationary sources such as power plants. Though originally filed in the Fifth Circuit, it was transferred to the D.C. Circuit on the ground that the SIP call rule is a nationally applicable regulation that the Clean Air Act specifies can only be reviewed by the D.C. Circuit.

Texas refused to add GHG emissions to the air pollutants covered by state permits for new and modified stationary sources under the prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) program, a Clean Air Act permitting program. The Program applies to all pollutants that do not exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in an area. The Clean Air Act allows EPA to issue federal implementation plans in states that either would not or were unable to change their own laws and regulations and their state implementation plans by January 2, 2011, to allow PSD permitting for GHG emissions. Consequently, EPA has assumed PSD permitting for GHG emissions in Texas, a move that Texas has opposed. For example, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on February 11, 2011, in support of the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, a bill that would bar EPA from regulating GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act. Texas's February 11 petition for review is its fourth challenge to EPA's program of regulations for GHG emissions and its third in the D.C. Circuit. See Texas v. EPA, No. 10-1425 (D.C. Cir. filed Dec. 30, 2010); Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA, No. 09-1322 (D.C. Cir. filed Dec. 23, 2009); Texas v. EPA, no. 10-60961 (5th Cir. filed Dec. 15, 2010). Texas filed separate suits challenging both the Interim and Final FIPs. The cases have been consolidated by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and are currently pending.

Chamber of Commerce v. EPA (United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, January 18, 2011).

Background: Provisions of the Clean Air Act permit the EPA to allow states to adopt their own automobile emissions standards under certain circumstances, exempting them from federal preemption. Under these rules, EPA has historically granted California the authority to set its own automobile emissions standards. In 2004, California sought an EPA waver in order to adopt its own greenhouse gas emissions standards for new cars beginning in model year 2009. In September 2009, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) petitioned the D.C. Circuit for review of the EPA's decision to grant a waiver allowing California to set its own automobile standards. They argued that California lacked justification for promulgating its 2004 standards for fleet-average GHG emissions for new vehicles. They argued that the regulation, which took effect in 2009, would hurt their members in California and other states that have signed onto the California rules because it would increase the manufacturing cost of vehicles and dictate the mix of vehicles with which auto manufacturers would supply them, which could cost them sales if the mix does not match market preferences.

In September 2009, the D.C. Circuit dismissed the case, finding that petitioners lacked standing to seek review and that a subsequent agreement on emissions standards between the EPA and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, harmonizing California and national standards, had mooted the case. The D.C. Circuit never reached the question of whether the California rules are justified because it concluded that the auto dealers had not asserted an imminent or actual injury that was fairly traceable to implementation of the state rules and could be redressed by a favorable court decision.

The court was presented with the following issues: 1) whether the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Automobile Dealers Association had standing to challenge EPA's grant of a waiver to California to implement its own emissions standards under the Clean Air Act; and 2) whether the case was mooted by California's subsequent compliance with national emissions standards.

Holding: In January of 2011, the three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court found that "Because the Chamber has not identified a single member who was or would be injured by EPA's waiver decision, it lacks standing to raise this challenge." The dealers too, it said, had failed to prove economic harm. The Court held that even if EPA's decision to grant California a waiver for its emission standards once posed an imminent threat of injury to the petitioners, the agency's subsequent adoption of federal standards has eliminated any independent threat that may have existed.

Sierra Club v. Jackson (2009-2011).

September 2009: EPA ordered Kentucky officials to set emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants for a coal-fired power plant as part of an agreement settling a former lawsuit. Under the order, the Kentucky Division of Air Quality was required to revise the operating permit issued to the plant to include a MACT standard for mercury and other air toxics. EPA issued the order as part of a consent decree with the Sierra Club. The decree required EPA to take action on a revised operating permit to be issued to the plant. Sierra Club had sued EPA, alleging that it failed to take action on the operating permit for the plant within the time frame required by the Clean Air Act, after EPA had ordered state officials to strengthen the permit's pollution control requirements.

Different lawsuit filed by Sierra Club against Jackson:

July 2010: A Federal Court dismissed a lawsuit seeking to force EPA to stop the construction of three coal-fired power plants in Kentucky, holding that it lacked jurisdiction over the matter. The lawsuit alleged that because Kentucky's State Implementation Plan (SIP) under the Clean Air Act was out of date, EPA was required to stop the construction of new sources of air pollution. EPA claimed that its ability to intervene was discretionary and that federal courts lacked jurisdiction to force it to act in such cases. The district court agreed and dismissed the case.

July 2011: The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club seeking to compel EPA to halt construction of two power plants in Kentucky. The lawsuit alleged that because Kentucky's State Implementation Plan (SIP) was out of date, EPA was required to stop the construction of new sources of air pollution. EPA claimed that its ability to intervene was discretionary and that federal courts lacked jurisdiction to force it to act in such cases. The district court agreed and dismissed the case. The D.C. Circuit affirmed the decision, holding that the Administrative Procedure Act does not provide a cause of action to review the EPA Administrator's failure to act under Sec. 167 of the Clean Air Act.

Massachusetts et al vs. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S Supreme Court, July 26, 2007)

On April 2, 2007 the Supreme Court released its ruling in the case of the state of Massachusetts vs. the Environmental Protection Agency. Massachusetts and eleven other states, along with several local governments and non-governmental organizations (petitioners), sued the EPA for not regulating the emissions of four greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), from the transportation sector. The petitioners claimed that human-influenced global climate change was causing adverse effects, such as sea-level rise, to the state of Massachusetts. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of Massachusetts et al, finding that EPA has the authority to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The decision was written by Justice Stevens and was signed by Justices Kennedy, Souter, Bader Ginsburg, and Breyer. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas dissented. The Court's findings are summarized below:


The EPA argued that Massachusetts et al could not prove standing in this case. The Court ruled that Massachusetts et al do in fact have standing in challenging EPA's decision not to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the transportation sector. Standing requires injury, causation, and the existence for a remedy. The Court found that EPA's refusal to regulate CO2 has led to "actual" and "imminent" harm to the state of Massachusetts, mainly in the form of rising sea-levels along the state's coast. The ruling also noted that "the harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized." The Court also found that "given EPA's failure to dispute the existence of a causal connection between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, its refusal to regulate such emissions, at a minimum, contributes to Massachusetts' injuries." Finally, while acknowledging that regulating greenhouse gases from motor vehicles alone will not reverse global warming, the Court found that domestic action such as this can play a role in slowing or reducing warming.

EPA Has Authority to Regulate Greenhouse Gases

The EPA argued that it was not given the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate CO2 or other greenhouse gases. The Court challenged the EPA's refusal to regulate CO2 as an air pollutant under the statute. The Court found that CO2 fits within the statute's broad definition of an air pollutant. Further, the Court stated that "EPA identifies nothing suggesting that Congress meant to curtail EPA's power to treat greenhouse gases as air pollutants." In its case, the EPA argued that regulating CO2 would require regulating fuel economy standards, which – according to the EPA – is under the purview of the Department of Transportation. The Court countered the EPA by recognizing that multi-agency efforts can indeed overlap when addressing an issue as important as global climate change: "The fact that DOT's mandate to promote energy efficiency by setting mileage standards may overlap with EPA's environmental responsibilities in no way licenses EPA to shirk its duty to protect the public health and welfare." Protecting public health and welfare is a duty mandated by the Clean Air Act.

EPA Must Protect Public Health and Welfare

Finally, EPA argued that even if it was granted authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, it would be "unwise to do so at this time," stating that it might conflict with the current administration's effort to address climate change, particularly with regard to international climate negotiations. The Court found EPA's argument that regulating emissions from the transportation sector "might hamper the President's ability to persuade key developing nations to reduce emissions" to be insufficient. Rather, according to the Court, "A reduction in domestic emissions would slow the pace of global emissions increases, no matter what happens elsewhere." Further, the Court ruled that "under the Act's clear terms, EPA can avoid promulgating regulations only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do." Finally, the Court found unreasonable EPA's argument that regulation of CO2 in the transportation sector would not make significant reductions in emissions, noting that although enforcing regulations may not by itself reverse global warming, it is the duty of EPA to take such a step in order to "slow or reduce" global warming.

This opinion is important for national and local climate change policy. Not only does it open the door to regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, but is also likely to catalyze calls for more comprehensive federal climate change legislation (pdf) – legislation that covers sectors other than transportation as well as non-CO2 greenhouse gases. This ruling could lend support for state efforts such as the California legislation intended to regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant in the transportation sector. In turn, expanded state activity will likely build even more pressure for a more uniform federal program.

Read more about GHG emissions standards in the transportation sector.

Read the complete Ruling (pdf).

Green Mountain Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Jeep v. Crombie (D. Vt. Sept. 12, 2007).

Green Mountain Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Jeep v. Crombie was a case brought by individual car manufacturers, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and several car dealerships located in the State of Vermont against state agencies. The plaintiff automotive groups sought to invalidate Vermont's efforts to adopt the standards of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for the "California car." The 240-page ruling was issued following a bench trial and the Supreme Court's decision in Mass. v. EPA. The arguments to invalidate the regulation were based on express and implied preemption of the Vermont standards by the Energy Policy and Conservations Act (EPCA) or, alternatively that the standards were invalid due to a conflict between the EPCA and the Clean Air Act (CAA). Additionally, an argument was made for foreign affairs preemption, which claimed that the regulation would inappropriately interfere with the President's ability to negotiate an international agreement to address greenhouse gases. Plaintiffs originally had additional claims under the dormant commerce clause, the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the Clean Air Act prior to trial, but these claims were dropped. Several citizens' groups, the State of New York, and Denise M. Shaheen, in her capacity as Commissioner of Environmental Conservation of the State of New York also joined the State as intervenor-defendants.

The State and citizens' groups attempted to dismiss the case because of ripeness. The ripeness claim was based on the lack of a section 209 preemption waiver of the CAA granted to California by the EPA. A waiver is required before the California standards can take effect. Without such a waiver, the California standards are preempted under the CAA. Vermont's legislation was not to be effective until the preemption waiver was granted to California. Section 177 of the CAA would then allow other states, such as Vermont, to adopt the California standards. Although California had not received the waiver, the United States District Court of Vermont ruled that the trial could proceed on the preemption issues and the court's ruling would be based on the assumption that the EPA granted the waiver to California. The court reasoned that the plaintiff automakers faced a "realistic danger of sustaining a direct injury" necessary to proceed with a declaratory judgment, because the companies must act now to redesign their automobiles in order to comply with the new standards. The court's decision to proceed with declaratory judgment was also supported by findings that the regulation had been formally enacted and the constitutional challenges were as concrete now as they would be in the future.

The court started its preemption analysis by determining that the CAA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases and more specifically the California's standards allowed under the CAA were not preempted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) obligation to comply with the EPCA. The court found that California's regulations and, consequently, Vermont's would become part of the federal "regulatory backdrop" upon the grant of the CAA preemption waiver. The court then found Congressional intent through case law and legislative history to allow California's regulations to be considered "other motor vehicle standards of the Government" which the NHTSA must consider when formulating fuel economy standards under section 32902 of the EPCA. The court found additional support for agency collaboration in Executive Order 13432 which requires coordination of regulatory action where possible. The court also cited the Supreme Court's ruling in Mass. v. EPA, which determined that there is "overlap" but no conflict between the two statutes. For these reasons, the court concluded that preemption doctrines do not apply to the interplay between section 209 of the CAA and the EPCA, because the alleged conflict is between federal schemes whereas preemption requires a federal scheme to forbid the implementation of a state scheme. Despite this finding, the court conducted a standard preemption analysis because the express language of the EPCA's preemption provision appears to forbid the Vermont regulation, and the plaintiffs alleged that the Vermont regulations result in an actual conflict with the EPCA fuel economy standards.

The court's preemption analysis then turned to whether the EPCA's preemption clause expressly preempts Vermont's regulation, because it is essentially a fuel economy regulation or it is related to fuel economy standards. In order to find express preemption, the court must find that it was the "clear and manifest purpose of Congress" to supersede power of the state. The court found that Congress had not stated such intent because of legislative history indicating that regulation of air pollution from mobile sources was traditionally a state responsibility prior to the CAA, and the regulation of greenhouse gases from mobile sources was an area "regarded as a cooperative state federal legislative effort." The court also found that the Vermont regulation was not a "de facto fuel economy" standard, because there are ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without regulating fuel efficiency such as the use of alternative fuels. The court then found the Vermont standards were not "related to fuel economy standards" as prohibited by the EPCA. The court reached this finding because the EPCA was enacted against a backdrop of other federal laws that affected motor vehicles and could affect fuel economy such as the CAA, noise emissions standards, and safety standards but did not discuss displacing them in the EPCA's legislative history. Furthermore, the court found that the CARB standards could not be preempted, because the NHTSA was required by the EPCA to consider California standards when determining the maximum feasible average economy. Accordingly, the court rejected the express preemption challenge.

The court then rejected the issue of field preemption. Field preemption occurs when state law attempts to regulate in a field that Congress intended for the federal government to occupy exclusively. Congressional intent in field preemption cases must be "clear and manifest" where the area has "been traditionally occupied by the States." The court found this was not the case, because the Supreme Court found in Mass. v. EPA that "the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles is not the exclusive province of the federal Department of Transportation." The court also cited the Supreme Court's determination that the EPA's obligation to protect public health and welfare under the CAA may include carbon dioxide. Furthermore, the district court found that Congress was well aware of the CAA practice of granting California waivers when it passed the EPCA and the scheme does not express sufficient dominance of the field that an EPA-approved state regulation would be precluded. These reasons led the court to conclude that a "clear and manifest intent to render the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles exclusively a federal domain."

The court also rejected the claim of conflict preemption. A state statute is found to be preempted to the extent that it intrudes upon Congressional objectives expressed by a federal statute. The plaintiffs claimed that the conflict occurred in three ways: "first, that it frustrates Congressional intent to maintain a single, nationwide fuel economy standard; second, that it upsets the balance that NHTSA has chosen to strike in setting 'maximum feasible average fuel economy' levels by restricting consumer choice, reducing employment in the domestic automobile industry, and decreasing traffic safety; and third, that EPA's waiver process will not ensure the absence of a conflict with EPCA objectives." The court rejected the first argument by citing Mass. v. EPA's finding that Congress anticipated the overlap and allowed the NHTSA to consider the effects of such other standards when formulating the NHTSA standard. The second and third arguments were also rejected. There the district court stated that the plaintiffs failed to carry the burden of showing that "compliance with the regulation is not feasible; nor have they demonstrated that it will limit consumer choice, create economic hardship for the automobile industry, cause significant job loss, or undermine safety." Here the court went through the trial record and cited testimony demonstrating past successes of technology-forcing legislation, changing consumer trends, and current trends of emissions reductions through alternative fuels, hybrid vehicles, and efficiency technologies as evidence that the plaintiff's burden was not met.

The final claim rejected by the court was foreign policy preemption. A state law may be preempted if, in absence of a federal statute or treaty, the state law "impairs the effective exercise of the Nation's foreign policy." The plaintiffs made two arguments. The first argument was that "Vermont's regulation is preempted in the absence of any conflict with national foreign policy, by virtue of its intrusion into foreign affairs." The court rejected this argument by stating that Vermont's regulation "exemplifies" the "cooperative federal state approach" to climate change described in a State Department letter to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Furthermore, the district court cited the Supreme Court's conclusion in Mass. v. EPA that "while the President has broad authority in foreign affairs, that authority does not extend to the refusal to execute domestic laws." Therefore, the district court rejected the first foreign policy preemption argument.

The plaintiffs' second foreign policy preemption argument was that "the regulation is preempted because there is a 'sufficiently clear conflict' with an 'express foreign policy of the national government.'" The plaintiffs claimed "that there is an express national foreign policy against the adopting unilateral binding limitations on GHG emissions in favor of a comprehensive international response on the issue." The district court was unable to find such a policy and rejected the claim that the United States' disapproval of the Kyoto Protocol was evidence of such a policy. The court also cited the State Department's letter mentioned above as well as the Supreme Court's dismissal of a similar argument in Mass. V. EPA. The district court then concluded that the Vermont regulation was not in conflict with national foreign policy.

Having held that the Vermont regulations were not preempted, the district court ordered judgment for the defendants and upheld the regulation assuming that the CAA waiver was granted to the State of California. California's waiver request was later rejected but is currently being appealed before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

View the case document here

Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep Inc. v. Goldstone (No. CV-F-04-6663 (E.D. Cal. 2006).

Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep, Inc. filed a complaint against James Goldstone, in his capacity as Executive Director of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) claiming that CARB's regulations of greenhouse gasses were preempted by the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), and the foreign policy of the United States. The complaint was joined by plaintiff-intervenor, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM). The case was filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.

On January 16, 2007, CARB was granted a motion for a stay of proceedings pending the outcome Mass. v. EPA before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court's decision in that case was announced on April 2, 2007. After the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Mass. v. EPA, CARB and AIAM moved for summary judgment on the issues of preemption. Additionally, CARB moved for summary judgment on the issue of preemption by the foreign policy of the United States.

California enacted Assembly Bill 1493 (AB 1493) in 2002. The bill required CARB to promulgate "regulations that achieve the maximum feasible and cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles" not later than January 1, 2005. The regulations were applicable to new cars in the model year of 2009. CARB was required to consider these time constraints as well as "environmental, economic, social, and technological factors." CARB's regulations were also required to be "[e]conomical to an owner or operator of a vehicle, taking into account the full life-cycle costs of the vehicle." In 2004, the regulations were completed in CARB's Resolution 04-28 (also known as AB 1493 regs).

The district court was first asked to determine whether CARB standards were preempted by the CAA. The court found that California must receive a waiver under section 209 of the CAA in order to enact standards that are more stringent than those offered by the EPA. If California is granted the waiver, other states may then adopt the California standard. The district court conditionally concluded that California and EPA can both promulgate regulations of motor vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions if a waiver is granted. Therefore, CARB's standards were not preempted by the CAA but are subject to the section 209 waiver process. [See discussion in States' news regarding California waiver. –ADD LINK] Additionally, the district court noted that CARB's regulations could also be enacted if new federal legislation enabled California to do so.

The court then addressed the issues of preemption and preclusion under the EPCA. The EPCA requires the Department of Transportation, more specifically the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to determine the maximum feasible mileage standards for new vehicles on a fleet-wide basis. The NHTSA establishes the standard by considering the following factors: "(1) technological feasibility; (2) economic practicability; (3) the effect of other Federal motor vehicle standards on fuel economy; and (4) the need of the nation to conserve energy." The EPCA also contains an express preemption provision that prohibits states from adopting laws or regulations related to fuel economy standards and, unlike the CAA, has no waiver provision.

In making its determination on the issues of preemption and preclusion the district court noted, "in questions of both preemption of state law and preclusion of federal statutory remedies by other federal statutes, the touchstone is congressional intent." The district court found that the EPCA's provision preempting state laws regulating fuel efficiency does not expressly preempt CARB from reducing greenhouse gasses through AB 1493. The district court reached this decision by citing the Supreme Court's ruling in Mass. v. EPA which indicates Congress intended that there be no conflict between EPA's duty to protect public health and welfare and NHTSA's duty to set fuel efficiency standards through the EPCA. Therefore, the doctrine of conflict preemption does not apply even though there may be overlap between the agencies' obligations. The district court also ruled that "to the extent the enforcement of California's AB 1493 Regulations may be inconsistent with existing CAFE standards," EPCA grants the NHTSA "authority to reformulate CAFE standards to harmonize with the AB 1493 Regulations if, and when, such standards are granted waiver of preemption by EPA."

The district court also stated that no disagreement was found with the United States District Court of Vermont's Green Mountain Chrysler Plymouth Jeep v. Dalmasse in regards to that court's conclusion that a waiver granted under section 209 causes a state's regulations to become federal law not subject to preemption. Instead the court in this case "offered an alternative analysis that avoids the issue of 'federalization' in the hope of adding a measure of clarity to the discussion." In other words, the court here did not rule on the issue of whether CARB's standards were considered federal once a waiver was granted, but instead found that the CARB's standards and the EPCA did not have the necessary conflict required for a finding of preemption if CARB's standards are to be considered state law nor a finding of preclusion if CARB's standard were considered federal by means of the EPA's waiver.

The district court also ruled for CARB on the issue of foreign policy preemption. The district court found that the plaintiffs failed to show that the United States foreign policy is to disallow state-based efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so that other countries may be leveraged into forming agreements. Furthermore, the court found that the plaintiffs failed to show how AB 1493 will conflict in any way with United States foreign policy. Accordingly, the court found that there was no foreign policy preemption.

The court then rejected the plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment and granted CARB's motions for summary judgment. The court stated that if the EPA granted the section 209 waiver, California and other states adopting California's standard should not be prevented by the doctrines of conflict preemption, express preemption, or foreign policy preemption from enforcing those standards. The district court also rejected the plaintiffs' claims under the dormant commerce clause and the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep Inc. v. Goldstone (Ninth Circuit, October 30, 2008)

Climate Change Politics: A Landscape Transformed





It is wonderful to be here in Albuquerque.   I am honored to be a part of this conference, and to kick off Session III of these proceedings.  

And what a journey you have been on.  Your agenda shows that you have moved from the Desert Dryland of Session I through the Middle Ground of Session II . . . and today you have reached Session III:    Oasis.   I am just glad this Convention Center has ample parking for all of your camels. 

Your journey reminds me of an old New Yorker cartoon.   It shows a caravan in the desert with the camels piled high.  A child in the group asks his mother the age-old question: “Are we there yet?”  And the irritated mother replies: “Of course not, we’re nomads!”

So let me begin by paying   tribute to the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico for bringing all of us—all of you—together.  The Council understands that, when it comes to issues of how we use water and how we interact with the natural environment, we simply cannot continue blindly on our current course.  We cannot keep treating the environment as an instrument for meeting our every whim and need.  Or, at least, we cannot do this and expect our actions not to have repercussions, some of them quite severe.

I am here this morning, of course, to talk about climate change.   And, given the Council’s interest in water issues, I want to talk a little bit about the relationship between climate change and water supplies. But, mostly, I want to talk about politics.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Oh, great. Someone is here from Washington to talk about politics. As if we don’t get enough politics in the news already.

But what I want to talk about is the politics of climate change—and how the political landscape in this country is changing in favor of stronger action to protect the climate. And it is changing for the same reason that events such as this conference are attracting more and more participants. Because people recognize that we have some very serious environmental problems on our hands—and because people see that there are solutions.

Of course, I am talking about people like you. And I am also talking about people like New Mexico’s governor, Bill Richardson.

Just last week, as I am sure you know, Governor Richardson joined with the chief executives of four other western states in a bold agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. I’ll talk more about this later, but for now I merely want to alert you to the fact that solutions to climate change are sprouting up right here in your own backyard. New Mexico and its neighbors, in fact, are at the vanguard in showcasing the new politics of climate change that I want to talk about today.

But let me start with a few words about water. Earlier this year, a United Nations panel called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a highly anticipated report on the current science of climate change.  This report represents the combined efforts of hundreds of top scientists from around the world. And it received a great deal of attention in the media—chiefly, for confirming once and for all that sea level and global temperatures both increased at an accelerating pace during the 20th century.

Also newsworthy was the fact that the IPCC expressed a much higher level of confidence than in past reports (a greater than 90-percent certainty, in fact) that the changes we are seeing are the result of human actions. The primary culprit, of course, is emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels.

But there was other news in the IPCC report as well—and a lot of it had to do with water. For example, the report confirmed that mountain glaciers and snow cover have declined on average in both the northern and southern hemispheres. It also found that more intense and longer droughts have been observed over wider areas since the 1970s, particularly in the tropics and subtropics.

And that just covers what has happened to date. The IPCC also issued projections for the decades ahead. And, again, the news is not good. Global temperatures, according to the report, will rise by 3.2 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, and sea levels will rise one-half to two feet. In addition, there is a 90-percent or greater chance that the world will see more hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events. And it is likely that we will see more droughts as well.

There it is: the dreaded D-word. The likelihood of more droughts is an obvious concern for people across the Southwest. The American Meteorological Society held a briefing on the IPCC report the other week in Washington, and Dr. Richard Seager of Columbia University made some very sobering points.

He said the report essentially confirms that the southwestern United States began a transition to a drier climate at the end of the 20th century, and that a new, drier climate is, in fact, well established as the 21st century gets under way. According to state-of-the-art models, conditions approximating a perpetual 1950s-style drought are likely to become the new climate of the Southwest in the decades to come.

In other words: If you want to keep a garden in New Mexico, and if you’re not into xeriscaping now, there is a 90-percent or greater chance you will be soon. There is no doubt about it: the changing climate will have serious implications for the Southwest. It will affect development, the allocation of water resources, cross-border relations with Mexico, everything.

And that’s just the forecast for the Southwest. Looking more broadly, the most recent IPCC report confirms beyond any reasonable doubt that climate change is a real problem, that it is caused in large part by human activity, and that it will accelerate in the years to come. If there is any silver lining in the contents of this report, it is this: the IPCC has provided the latest in a long line of scientific studies and pronouncements that have helped to change the political landscape on this issue in favor of solutions. And that is what I would like to talk about during the remainder of my remarks.

In his January State of the Union address, President Bush called global climate change a “serious challenge.” And, while his answers to the challenge fall far short of doing what’s needed, it is a remarkable rhetorical (and political) u-turn for this White House to even acknowledge that this is a challenge, let alone a serious one.

The reason for the u-turn can be found in part, as I said, in the increasing scientific certainty about climate change. Every month, it seems, the scientific case for action has become stronger—to the point that no responsible, thinking person can any longer deny that this is a real problem.

But science is not the only force that has compelled this White House and others to see that it is in their political interest to go public with their concern about this challenge. Equally important, I believe, is the fact that this Administration has become politically isolated on this issue, as governors and congressional leaders have stepped up and not only acknowledged the challenge but tried to shape real solutions.

The announcement last week by the five Western governors is a perfect example of this. People are not happy about the lack of leadership on this issue from Washington, and they’re setting out to fill the void.

Under the western governors’ agreement, New Mexico would join with Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington to set a regional target for greenhouse gas emissions.  And, by August 2008, the states will establish a market-based system to enable companies and industries to meet the target as cost-effectively as possible.  These five states combined emit more carbon dioxide than Canada, while accounting for more than 11 percent of total U.S. emissions.  So this is a significant achievement. 

New Mexico also is one of 12 U.S. states that have adopted their own statewide targets for capping and, ultimately, reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.  And New Mexico’s are among the most ambitious targets out there--emissions will reach 2000 levels by 2012, they will be 10 percent below 2000 levels by 2020, and 75 percent below 2000 levels by 2050.  

In December, Governor Richardson signed an executive order to help the state reach its targets.   Among the steps he approved were the creation of a greenhouse gas registry, advances in technology to capture and store carbon emissions from power plants, and the promotion of renewable fuels.

New Mexico is the first major coal, oil and gas-producing state to set targets like these.  New Mexico also is working with its neighbors in Arizona on a plan called the Southwest Climate Change Initiative.  The goal: to pursue collaborative opportunities to reduce emissions.

The residents of this state deserve to be proud of all of the forward-looking things that are happening right here to address climate change.   But New Mexico is not alone among the states.  Over the past several years, lawmakers from coast to coast have been embracing new programs and policies to reduce their states’ greenhouse gas emissions. 

California, like New Mexico, established an ambitious greenhouse gas emissions target—and California has gone the next step and passed legislation, with real enforcement, to give the targets the force of law.  California also has taken steps to begin regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks (a policy that 10 other states are poised to follow if it survives a legal challenge from the automakers).  If the courts uphold it, California’s new standard for vehicles will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 30 million tons by 2020.

Many, many states are taking steps to rein in their emissions.   For example, 22 states, including large emitters like Texas and California, have required that electric utilities generate a specified amount of electricity from renewable sources.  Twenty-eight states have climate action plans.

And other states are working across their borders in the same spirit as New Mexico and its western neighbors.   Seven Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states have signed their own regional initiative.  Known as RGGI, it is aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the region. 

Now, you might think that one state’s actions could not possibly affect a global problem like climate change. But if you combine the RGGI states with the five western states that are taking collaborative action, that’s 22 percent of U.S. emissions that could soon be subject to emission targets under a market-based system.  If all of these states were a single country, they would be the fourth largest emitting nation in the world.  And consider this:   California’s emissions exceed those of Brazil.   Texas comes out ahead of Canada, the UK and Mexico.    And Illinois produces more CO2 than the Netherlands.

States are a significant part of the climate problem, and many of them are showing they can be a significant part of the solution as well. 

The states also are showing that it is politically possible to take action on this issue.    In November, Governor Richardson was reelected to office with the support of 69 percent of New Mexico voters.  It was the largest margin of victory for any governor in the history of the state.  Think his support for serious action on climate change hurt him at the polls?  Doesn’t look like it. 

The same goes for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Polls have confirmed that his strong support for climate action helped him enormously with California voters in the 2006 election.  The governor won the election with a strong 56-percent majority of the vote, vs. 39 percent for his Democratic opponent.  

So, yes, the politics of climate change are different today.  And it is not only because state leaders are stepping up and advancing solutions to the problem.  Business leaders, too, have gotten into the act—making the case that it is possible to protect the climate while also protecting—and, in many cases, advancing—our goals for economic growth. 

At the Pew  Center, we work with a council of leading businesses that are committed to protecting the climate.   Our Business Environmental Leadership Council began with 13 companies; it now includes more than 40 companies representing more than 3 million employees and with a combined market value of over $2.4 trillion.  Members include a who’s who of U.S. corporate leadership, from Alcoa and GE to IBM and Intel,  and many more. What are these companies doing to protect the climate?  Here are a couple of examples:   Over the last 20 years, Alcoa has reduced the electricity required to produce a ton of aluminum by 7.5 percent.  Another Council member, IBM, has instituted energy conservation measures that resulted in a savings of 12.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity between 1990 and 2002.  The resulting reduction in carbon dioxide emissions: 7.8 million tons.    And the resulting savings to the company’s bottom line: $729 million in reduced energy costs.

We can’t cut emissions?   These companies don’t think so.  And they’re showing it’s possible to do so in ways that do not compromise economic growth. 

For many if not all of these companies, addressing climate change is about both opportunity and risk.   Many business leaders see real risks to their operations from climate change.   According to the global insurance giant, Allianz, climate change already is increasing the potential for property damage at a rate of between 2 and 4 percent every year.  Tourism, agriculture, insurance, finance … all of these industries (and more) face serious and compelling risks.  And consider the risks for electric utilities and other businesses that do nothing to address this issue now—and then are forced to play a costly game of catch-up down the road as governments finally (and inevitably) get serious about reducing emissions.

On the other hand, there are also many obvious opportunities tied to developing and deploying new and emerging low-carbon technologies.  GE, for example, has committed to doubling its investment in environmental technologies to $1.5 billion by 2010.   That is the equivalent of starting a new Fortune 250 company focused exclusively on clean technology.

Ten years ago, corporate America was a reliable ally for those opposed to any kind of serious action to address climate change.  Well, that’s just not the case any more.  And, in fact, many of the companies we work with are combining independent, voluntary action to reduce their emissions and develop climate-friendly technologies with high-profile public support for new policies to protect the climate.

Just last month, several of the businesses on our Council joined with the Pew  Center and others in a high-profile appeal for U.S. government action to address climate change.  The group is known as the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, and this wasn’t just a blanket call for government to do something.  Rather, the USCAP group issued a specific proposal with specific targets and timetables—a real plan of action to slow, stop and reverse U.S. emissions.

Among the companies that were part of this unique call-to-action was Albuquerque’s own PNM Resources.   PNM, of course, is the energy holding company whose utility and energy subsidiaries provide power to 941,000 homes and business in New Mexico and Texas.

Now, think for a moment about how an announcement like this changes the political landscape on this issue.   When Fortune 500 CEOs take a stand for policies that in the past were tagged by private sector leaders as extreme or unwarranted, and worse, it moves the politics to a new place.   Like the state leaders who have come out in favor of strong and effective policies, the business leaders we’re working with are sending a clear message to Washington, and the message is this:   We must act to address this issue now, and we can do it without putting our economy at risk.

And Washington, finally, is beginning to listen.    Beyond the President’s rhetorical bows to climate change, our nation’s elected leaders are laying the groundwork for substantive action on this issue in the months and years ahead.    In 2005, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan measure calling for a national, mandatory, market-based program to slow, stop and, ultimately, reverse the growth in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  Although the measure was nonbinding, it marked the first time the Senate has gone on record to support mandatory action on this issue. 

And now, there is a new Congress in place with leaders who are strong supporters of climate action.   The change at the top of the U.S. Senate committee with jurisdiction over climate change is a case in point.  Gone as chairman is Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who infamously referred to climate change as a quote-unquote “great hoax.” Replacing him is Senator Barbara Boxer of California, who could not pose more of a contrast as author of one of the most aggressive climate bills yet introduced in Congress.

In addition to Senator Boxer at the head of the Environment and Public Works Committee, we now have a Senate Majority Leader and a Speaker of the House who consistently have supported mandatory climate action.  And we have leaders of other key committees on both sides of Capitol Hill who have expressed their support for action.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signaled her intention to have the House pass a climate bill by July 4.  And the biggest political development of the year on this issue may be that Congressman John Dingell of Detroit now agrees that it’s time to act. 

As chairman of the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Congressman Dingell has long been considered an obstacle to serious action on climate change.  But now he is saying that his committee will report a bill by early June.  And his support for action, I believe, is very likely to bring in other Democrats who have been less than enthusiastic, and more Republicans too. 

What all of these developments point to, if all the stars align, is a so-called “cap-and-trade” bill emerging from Congress, potentially before the 2008 elections.  In the Senate alone, there are currently five bills proposing some form of cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions

Cap-and-trade, as most of you know, is a policy that requires emissions reductions while allowing companies to trade emission credits.   The most important benefit of this approach: it establishes a value for emissions reductions, as well as an economic advantage for technologies that can achieve them. 

The cap-and-trade model already has proven successful in this country in reducing emissions of the pollutants that cause acid rain.  We know it can work.  Cap-and-trade, in fact, is how California intends to achieve its emission targets.  It is also the basis for the multi-state plans I mentioned here in the West and back East as well. 

So there is, in fact, a great deal of movement on this issue in Washington.   And there is additional pressure for solutions due to the upcoming 2008 Presidential contest.  (Well, I suppose you can’t call it an “upcoming” contest anymore—sadly for all of us, it is already well under way). 

In any case, on the Democratic side you have a number of candidates who have pledged to make climate change an important part of their platforms.  And, among the Republicans there is U.S. Senator John McCain, who co-wrote the first cap-and-trade bill in the U.S. Congress way back in 2003.  Conveniently, his measure currently is co-sponsored by two colleagues named Obama and Clinton (meaning we could see at least one point of agreement during the 2008 presidential debates). 

Given the support for climate action among these high-profile contenders for President, I believe that the words “cap and trade” will become an important part of the political dialogue in this country in the lead-up to the 2008 election.  And I also believe that, given the changed politics on this issue, it is plausible that the United States could have this kind of mandatory policy in place by 2008, and it’s likely we will have such a policy by 2010. 

But implementing a cap-and-trade policy, while critical, is not all we need to do.  We need a wider range of policies.  We need to invest in research to develop some of the most critical, long-term, climate-friendly technologies.  And we need policies to ensure that technologies that reduce emissions can gain a solid foothold in the marketplace. 

And then there are policies aimed at specific sectors of the economy.   For example, governments around the world have adopted more stringent policies than the United States to reduce tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions and/or increase the fuel economy of cars and trucks.     Even China has higher standards than we do.  If all of these countries are doing this and we aren’t, that says to me that it’s possible—that, despite the automobile companies’ resistance, technologies exist to reduce emissions from this sector.  And by adopting tougher but reasonable standards, we can hasten the rollout of cost-effective, commercially available technology to reduce vehicle emissions.       

It is also going to take international policies.   This, too, is not in question.  Climate change is a global problem requiring global action.  Even if we were to get smarter about reducing the United States’ contribution to climate change, global energy use will continue to surge and climate change will remain a significant threat.  We cannot protect the climate without a global framework that enlists all countries to do their part to reduce emissions, and that provides poorer countries with the support they need to do so.

And, in fact, a number of countries around the world already are taking action on this issue, which is another factor that has changed the political landscape here in the United States.   The European Union, for example, has adopted its own emissions trading scheme.  And countries like the United Kingdom have embraced ambitious goals for reducing their emissions and developing low-carbon energy sources. 

While all of these other countries are moving forward, however cautiously, and trying to figure out how to reduce their emissions, the United States until now has remained largely on the sidelines.   And we have remained on the sidelines despite the enormous risks that climate change poses for our economy—and the enormous economic opportunities as well.  

As both the risks and the opportunities become clearer to U.S. leaders, the political landscape will continue to change.  And we will see our country come around, once and for all, and embrace real action to protect the climate—and to ensure that our water supplies and other resources are protected as well.

And, by real action, I am talking about more than a prevention-only approach.  Although reducing greenhouse gas emissions is critical to limiting the ultimate damage caused by climate change, it is clear that we must also adapt to what is already here and coming in the near future. The latest IPCC report tells us that, even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, the average temperature of the earth would continue to rise significantly for decades to come, precipitation patterns would continue to change, and sea level would continue to rise for hundreds of years because of the inertia in the climate system.   Obviously, we will not stop emitting greenhouse gases today, so the changes to come will be significant.  We are going to have to adapt.

By reducing your water demand, you—the xeriscape community—are in the vanguard of the grassroots adaptation movement.    But in the same way that voluntary action alone is not enough to prevent the worst effects of climate change, voluntary action alone will not ensure we can adapt.  There is an essential role for government and public policy, including lots of planning at the local and state levels for droughts, storms, water shortages, extreme heat and other consequences.  Water supplies, storm drainage, peak power capacity, emergency care and relief systems, evacuation planning—all of these and more will have to be enhanced.

There will be large costs associated with adaptation but there will be no choice, as the alternative is simply to suffer.    Fortunately, we do have an opportunity, through aggressive mitigation, to minimize both the ultimate costs of adaptation and the amount of human suffering that our children and grandchildren will have to endure in the future. Every dollar spent avoiding climate change will save more dollars spent later on adapting to and repairing the damage.

Looking forward, the challenge of reaching agreement on effective national climate policies is not all that different from the challenges you face as gardeners.   We need to prepare the soil by making our opinions known.  We need to turn all of these buds and shoots I have talked about into healthy, thriving plants.  And we need to pay close attention to issues of design—how we design policies to work together in the most effective ways. 

In closing, I will go back to the question posed by the child in the caravan of camels: “Are we there yet?”   And the answer is, we are certainly not.  But unlike the nomads in the cartoon, we at least have a clear destination.    We just need to get going.  

Thank you very much.

Congressional Testimony of Eileen Claussen Regarding The Effects of Global Warming



At the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means

February 28, 2007

Regarding The Effects of Global Warming

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak to the committee about the important issue of global climate change.   My name is Eileen Claussen and I am the President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change is a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change.  Forty-two major companies participate in the Pew Center’s Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), making the BELC the largest U.S.-based association of corporations focused on addressing the challenges of climate change.  Many different sectors are represented, from high technology to diversified manufacturing; from oil and gas to transportation; from utilities to chemicals.  These companies represent $2.5 trillion in market capitalization, employ over 3.3 million people, and work with the Center to educate the public and policy-makers on the risks, challenges and solutions to climate change

As you have heard from Drs. Schneider and Prinn, it is now well established that climate change is occurring and that humans are primarily responsible.  The recently released summary of the IPCC’s 4th assessment report calls the evidence of climate warming “unequivocal” and expresses over 90% confidence that most observed warming is due to human influence.  Left unabated, climate change will have tremendous consequences on our country and the world.

The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to climate change come from a wide variety of sources and sectors throughout the economy.  These include transportation, electric power generation, use of energy in our homes and offices, manufacturing, and many others.  Just as there is no single sector or emissions source that is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions,   there is also no single technology or policy that will solve global warming.  We need a portfolio of policies and technologies to meet this challenge. 

The Pew Center believes there are three things we in the United States must do to reduce the real and growing risks posed by global climate change: First, we must enact and implement a comprehensive national mandatory market-based program to progressively and significantly reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in a manner that contributes to sustained economic growth.  Second, while taking the necessary first step of placing limits on our own emissions, the United States must also work with other countries to establish an international framework that engages all the major greenhouse gas-emitting nations in a fair and effective long-term effort to protect our global climate.  Third, we must strengthen our efforts to develop and deploy climate-friendly technologies and to diffuse those technologies on a global scale.    Only in this way will we achieve our environmental objectives and keep costs to a minimum.

Recently, the Pew Center joined with 3 other NGOs and 10 companies, including BP, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, and GE in announcing the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP).  Together, we are calling for a combination of mandatory approaches, technological incentives and support for demonstration projects.

We chose emission reduction targets with technology in mind:  to allow for capital stock turnover and for the development and deployment of new technologies.   In five years, emissions should be between 100 and 105% of today’s levels, ­ in other words, no more than 5% above current levels.  In ten years, emissions should be 90-100% of today’s levels.  By 2050, we would like to see emissions cut 60 to 80% from current levels.   It is the considered judgment of the US Climate Action Partnership that these cuts are both technologically achievable and economically sound.  

The USCAP went into detail as to how we think these goals should be achieved.  Given this committee’s interests and jurisdiction, I will highlight only the recommendations focused on federal technology research, development, demonstration, and deployment.  But let me reiterate that we will need a portfolio of technologies.  The U.S. will continue to burn coal and natural gas; we will continue to use nuclear energy; and we will need to ramp up our use of renewable energy sources.  Transportation will also be a key part of our future, but given our interests in both energy security and climate change, we will need to see far greater use of biofuels, advanced diesels and hybrids in the short term, as well as continuing innovation in fuels and technologies over the longer term – including use of electric- or hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The USCAP recommends the following key characteristics of a technology program:

  • A mix of deployment policies to create incentives to use low-GHG technologies and address regulatory or financial barriers.   Such policies could include loan guarantees, investment tax credits and procurement standards.  For example, production tax credits currently available to some categories of renewables could be extended to other zero-GHG electricity sources.  Likewise, tax incentives currently available to a limited number of hybrid-electric cars and trucks could be extended to a larger number of qualifying vehicles.
  • Stable, long-term financing (for example, in the form of a dedicated revenue stream or other means not reliant upon annual Congressional appropriations);
  • Joint public/private sector cost-sharing and oversight. The Department of Energy’s FutureGen project is an example of a joint public/private initiative, with costs shared between the government and the companies in the project’s Alliance.   The USCAP believes, however, that we need more demonstration projects to demonstrate the potential for long-term sequestration in a variety of geologic structures.
  • Establishment of performance criteria and a technology roadmap to guide RD&D and deployment program investment decisions; and
  • Establishment of a public/private institution to govern the administration of the RD&D and deployment program fund.

It is important that incentives be consistent enough to provide the certainty needed for large-scale investment decisions.  For example, the short-term nature of the production tax credit for wind power has resulted in a boom and bust cycle in which investments have been strong while the credit is in effect but drop quickly as it expires, hampering consistent growth in this sector.

From our own work on technology policy, the Pew Center has found that government has not always been good at picking technology winners, so it is best to have programs and incentives that serve to promote a variety of technologies and approaches.   Projects could be selected via a reverse auction, allowing proposals for reduction projects to compete on a level playing field for funding.  An auction could specify technology categories as well as offer a broad competition to elicit new, as-yet-unknown technologies.

The committee could also consider incentives for energy efficiency measures in businesses, homes, and vehicles; for capture and sequestration of carbon that would otherwise be emitted from coal burning power plants; for energy efficient transmission and distribution systems; and for transportation planning measures that reduce miles driven.

Many of the companies we work with have set voluntary targets and reduced their GHG emissions significantly.  The majority have done so by finding efficiency opportunities in their operations and most have had no net cost to implement those reductions.  This is not to say that all reductions will be free, or that a regulatory scheme alone would be a sufficient response to climate change.  But it does suggest that moving forward with both a push (through technology incentives) and a pull (through a price signal) could allow us to meet a series of emission reduction objectives such as those recommended in the USCAP proposal.

Here are some examples of what companies have been able to achieve.        

  • DuPont used seven percent less total energy in 2004 than it did in 1990, and has lowered its GHG emissions by 70% during that time despite an almost 30 percent increase in production. Compared to a linear increase in energy with production, this achievement has resulted in $2 billion in cumulative energy savings.
  • From 1990 to 2002, IBM’s energy conservation measures resulted in a savings of 12.8 billion kWh of electricity—avoiding approximately 7.8 million tons of CO2 and saving the company $729 million dollars in reduced energy costs.
  • The pharmaceutical company Baxter reduced its process-related GHG emissions by 99 percent between 1996 and 2002 by phasing out the use of certain solvents. These process changes resulted in reductions equivalent to over 3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.  Alcoa’s aluminum smelters reduced generation of PFC’s (powerful greenhouse gases) by 75% from 1990 to 2002.

These leading firms are curbing their contributions to climate change, but their voluntary efforts are not enough to achieve the comprehensive reductions in greenhouse gases needed across the economy.  To achieve that goal, we need to enact the measures discussed above.

I thank the committee for considering steps to address global climate change and look forward to your questions.

Congressional Testimony of Eileen Claussen: Regarding USCAP



February 13, 2007

At the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality

Regarding The U.S. Climate Action Partnership

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.  My name is Eileen Claussen, and I am the President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change is a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. Forty-two major companies in the Pew Center’s Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), most included in the Fortune 500, work with the Center to educate the public on the risks, challenges and solutions to climate change.

The Pew Center is one of fourteen organizations currently belonging to the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). On January 22, the USCAP announced an interconnected set of recommendations for the general structure of climate protection legislation that we would urge Congress to enact as quickly as possible. Among other things, the USCAP recommends enactment of a greenhouse gas cap and trade program, federal technology research and development, and policies and measures pertaining to specific sectors.

Allow me to discuss a few specific elements of the climate legislation we would recommend.

Cap and Trade is Essential. The USCAP believes that our environmental goal and economic objectives can best be accomplished through an economy-wide, market-driven approach that includes a cap and trade program that places specified limits on GHG emissions. This approach will ensure emission reduction targets will be met while simultaneously generating a price signal resulting in market incentives that stimulate investment and innovation in the technologies that will be necessary to achieve our environmental goal. The U.S. climate protection program should create a domestic market that will establish a uniform price for GHG emissions for all sectors and should promote the creation of a global market.

Cost Control Measures. One issue often raised in discussions of cap and trade programs is the projected cost of the policy and how the program can be designed to keep costs reasonable. Cost control measures are policies designed to provide capped entities with greater confidence that their cost will be limited. The USCAP believes that the most powerful cost control measure is a robust cap and trade program that covers multiple greenhouse gases and sectors, and allows offsetting reductions from non-capped firms and international sources. The cap and trade approach allows for firms that can make inexpensive reductions to provide allowances for firms that cannot. At the same time, it encourages investment in efficiency and innovative technologies. Any additional cost-control option considered by Congress must ensure the integrity of the emissions cap over a multi-year period and preserve the market’s effectiveness in driving reductions, investment, and innovation.

As policy makers weigh additional cost control options, we would recommend that they consider which parts of the economy are affected, the time duration of the impact and remedy, implications for international competitiveness, the implications for international emissions trading, and how the measure affects the price signal necessary to stimulate investment and technological innovation. Additional cost control options could include a safety valve, borrowing, strategic allowance reserve, preferential allocations, dedicated funding, technology incentives and transition assistance. If used, cost control measures must be designed to enable a long-term price signal that is stable and high enough to drive investment in low- and zero emitting technologies, including carbon capture and storage.

Sector-Specific Policies and Measures. USCAP believes that policies and measures are needed to complement an economically sound cap and trade system to create additional incentives to invest in low-GHG approaches in key sectors. The need and scope of sector specific measures will depend on the stringency of targets, scope of coverage, and point of regulation in the cap and trade program. Some of the sector-specific measures are intended to be transitional in nature and should be phased out over time. USCAP recommended sector-specific measures for new coal-based energy facilities and other stationary sources, carbon capture and storage, transportation, and buildings and energy efficiency.

New Coal-Based Energy Facilities and Other Stationary Sources. USCAP recognizes that coal supplies over fifty percent of our current electricity generation and will play a continuing role in our energy future. Policies are needed to speed transition to low- and zero emission stationary sources that can cost effectively capture CO2 emissions for geologic sequestration. We do not take a position as a group on any specific project, even though as individual organizations many USCAP Members do have such positions.

Carbon Capture and Storage. USCAP recommends that Congress should require EPA to promulgate regulations promptly to permit long-term geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide from stationary sources. Funding should be provided for at least three sequestration demonstration projects in depleted and abandoned oil and gas fields and saline aquifers with carbon dioxide injection, each at levels equivalent to emissions produced by a large coal-based power plant.

Transportation Sources. USCAP believes that climate protection legislation must achieve substantial GHG emission reductions from all major emitting sectors of the economy, including the transportation sector. We recommend Congress enact policies to reduce GHG emissions in the transportation sector, including consideration of policies to:

  • promote lower-carbon transportation fuels;
  • cost-effectively decrease allowable GHG emissions of automobile manufacturers’ fleets and promote new low-emissions vehicles, for example with GHG or fuel economy performance standards;
  • efficiently decrease vehicle miles traveled and enhance mass transit and other less carbon-intensive transportation alternatives;
  • promote better growth planning;
  • educate consumers; and
  • address emissions from air, rail, and marine transport.

Buildings and Energy Efficiency. USCAP believes that policies are needed to realize the full potential of energy efficiency as a high priority energy resource and a cost-effective means of reducing GHG emissions. To achieve this objective, we recommend that climate legislation should establish federal and state policies that align financial and regulatory incentives with utilities’ business interests to aggressively pursue energy efficiency programs and promote policies that “decouple” utility sales and revenues in conjunction with requirements for utilities to pursue all cost-effective energy efficiency savings. Stronger energy efficiency codes and standards are needed for whole buildings and for equipment and appliances, as are incentives and tax reform measures to advance the infrastructure necessary to support new "smart" and highly-efficient technologies and distributed generation. Finally, the legislation should create separate incentives for regulated entities, building owners, and other parties not subject to the cap to go even further in producing energy efficiency savings.

Accounting for the Global Dimensions of Climate Change. Let me close by discussing the international dimension of this issue. The effects of climate change are global, as are the sources of GHG emissions. Success will require commitments by all of the major emitting countries. Toward this end, the U.S. government should become more involved in developing the post-2012 international arrangements for addressing climate change that are now being discussed. So, while taking the necessary first step of placing limits on our own emissions, Congress should strongly urge the Administration to safeguard U.S. interests by engaging in these negotiations with the aim of establishing commitments by all major emitting countries. The members of USCAP believe strongly that U.S. action to implement mandatory measures and incentives for reducing emissions should not be contingent on simultaneous action by other countries. Rather, we believe that U.S. leadership is essential for establishing an equitable and effective international policy framework for robust action by all major emitting countries.

I thank and commend Chairman Boucher and the subcommittee for taking on this critically important issue. The Pew Center looks forward to working with the subcommittee as it continues its work.

Congressional Briefing Series on Science and Impacts: Sea Level Rise

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
Sea level rise is one of the most widespread climate impacts expected to result from human-induced global warming. New evidence from modern satellite observations on the one hand, and from the study of how large polar ice sheets responded to ancient global warming events on the other, suggests that global warming is already causing sea level to rise and that it could rise faster and to a greater extent this century—and beyond—than previously estimated. This briefing will help congressional staff understand recent scientific progress and current scientific thought on sea level rise.

Friday February 9, 2007
10:00-11:30 AM
2325 Rayburn House Office Building


Sea level rise is one of the most widespread climate impacts expected to result from human-induced global warming. New evidence from modern satellite observations on the one hand, and from the study of how large polar ice sheets responded to ancient global warming events on the other, suggests that global warming is already causing sea level to rise and that it could rise faster and to a greater extent this century—and beyond—than previously estimated. This briefing will help congressional staff understand recent scientific progress and current scientific thought on sea level rise.

Following a brief introduction to global climate change by Dr. Jay Gulledge, two leading sea level experts, Dr. Steve Nerem and Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, will describe the present state of the science on global sea level rise, with emphasis on state-of-the-art satellite measurements of contemporary sea level change, the various climate processes that contribute to sea level rise, and lessons learned from studying ancient climate–sea level relationships. Following short scientific presentations from each scientist, there will be ample time for the audience to interact directly with these internationally recognized experts.


R. Steven Nerem, Ph.D.
University of Colorado
Dr. Steve Nerem is Professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Prior to joining the CU faculty in 2000, he was Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering for four years at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to that he was a geophysicist with NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center for six years. He earned his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Nerem has authored approximately 60 peer-reviewed journal publications covering a variety of topics related to his specialty, which involves satellite orbit determination, remote sensing, and measuring the Earth's shape, gravity field, and sea level from space. He is a Contributing Author for the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Dr. Nerem has received more than a dozen awards for his work, including NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his research in the area of gravity field determination.

Jonathan T. Overpeck, Ph.D.
University of Arizona
Dr. Overpeck is Director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth and professor of Geosciences at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Prior to joining the faculty in 1999 he was head of the NOAA Paleoclimatology Program at the National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colorado for nine years. He earned a Ph.D. in geological sciences from Brown University. Dr. Overpeck has authored over 100 papers that focus on global change dynamics, with a major focus on how and why climate systems vary on timescales of decades and longer. Current work focuses on the Asian and West African Monsoon systems, tropical Atlantic variability, El Niño-Southern Oscillation dynamics, Arctic environmental change, and reconstruction of ancient environments. He is a Coordinating Lead Author for the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Dr. Overpeck has received numerous awards recognizing his climate research, including the U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal and the American Meteorological Society Walter Orr Roberts Award.

Jay Gulledge, Ph.D.
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Dr. Gulledge is Senior Research Fellow for Science and Impacts at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. He serves as the Center’s in-house scientist and coordinates its work to communicate the state of knowledge on the science and environmental impacts of global climate change to policy-makers and the public. He is also an adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming, home to his academic research on biological cycling of atmospheric greenhouse gases, which he publishes regularly in peer-reviewed journals. Prior to joining the Pew Center, he served on the faculties of Tulane University and University of Louisville. Dr. Gulledge earned a PhD in ecosystem sciences from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He currently serves as an associate editor of Ecological Applications, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Ecological Society of America.

Response to the 2007 State of the Union Address

Statement by Eileen Claussen
President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

"Across the United States, scientists, CEOs, environment groups, state governments, and members of Congress are seeking a comprehensive approach to global climate change and what the President is proposing is really only a very small step in that direction; his plan only affects the transportation sector, which accounts for roughly one-third of US greenhouse gas emissions; and it is unclear how real this commitment is.

If we hope to deal with climate change in a reasonable manner, we need an approach that is both economy-wide and mandatory, and that will put us on a path toward significant greenhouse gas reductions."


We welcome the President's mention of climate change in the State of the Union address, but his commitments fall short of actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan to reduce gasoline use by 20% comes from the following two measures:

1) Fuel standards calling for 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels (15%); and
2) Reforms to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard for cars (5%).

The overall 20% improvement claim is based on projected future gasoline use--not a reduction from current levels.

The increase in renewable fuels could provide a push for some climate-friendly alternative fuels; however, less GHG-friendly alternatives can also be used, leaving the climate benefits uncertain.

The proposed 5% reduction in gasoline use (to achieve the 20% goal) is based on an improvement in current CAFE of 4% per year (roughly 1 mile per gallon per year). However, the President's proposal does not commit to a new fuel economy standard for cars. He asks Congress to give the Administration authority to revisit the automobile standard but not to specify an actual numerical target.

At best, these two measures taken together could slow or stop expected growth in emissions from the transportation sector*, which represents roughly 1/3 of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. No specific proposals were offered to deal with emissions from other key sectors such as electricity generation, manufacturing, or buildings. Given all of the calls for action from CEOs, religious leaders, state and local governments, and the general public, it's unfortunate that the President missed this opportunity to outline a meaningful, comprehensive proposal to deal with climate change.

Related Content

View a chart of climate legislation recently proposed in the Senate (pdf).

Read the Pew Center's recommendations for U.S. climate policy:
Agenda for Climate Action.

Read about the new coalition of businesses and NGOs calling for national legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, United States Climate Action Partnership.

*The White House Policy Initiative Twenty in Ten: Strengthening America's Energy Security notes that "The President's plan will help confront climate change by stopping the projected growth of carbon emissions from cars, light trucks, and SUVs within 10 years."

USCAP: Background Materials

On January 22, 2007, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) released a landmark series of principles and recommendations calling for the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. The USCAP is an unprecedented alliance of leading non-governmental organizations, including the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (at the time named the Pew Center on Global Climate Change), and major corporations, including several members of our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC).

C2ES has extensive resources on domestic policy initiatives, including its Agenda for Climate Action, released in February 2006. Please visit our Policy page for further research and analysis, and Climate Action in Congress for a summary of recent congressional action.

Click here (pdf) to see how the USCAP recommendations compare to climate legislation recently proposed in the Senate.

Note: The reports posted below were prepared by C2ES (at the time named the Pew Center on Global Climate Change). They are not products, nor do they represent the consensus views, of USCAP. They are intended solely to provide further information and detail on major topics and recommendations contained in USCAP's "A Call for Action."

Key Themes from USCAP, "A Call For Action"

Additional C2ES Background Resources

Science and Impacts

The Science of Climate Change: Global and U.S. Perspectives

Observed Impacts of Global Climate Change in the U.S.

Climate Change 101: The Science and Impacts

Business and Economic Opportunities

Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) Company Profiles: the BELC is the largest U.S.-based association of companies convened to advance progressive climate policy and solutions, with 44 companies collectively comprising over $2 trillion in combined revenues, nearly 4 million employees, and operations in almost every U.S. state and country worldwide.

Corporate GHG and Energy Strategies

Getting Ahead of the Curve: Corporate Strategies That Address Climate Change

Climate Change 101: Business Solutions

Capturing the Emerging Market for Climate-Friendly Technologies: Opportunities for Ohio

International Policy

International Climate Efforts Beyond 2012: Report of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico

International Climate Efforts Beyond 2012: A Survey of Approaches

The Lugar-Biden Climate Change Resolution

Climate Change 101: International Action

Technology Development

The 10-50 Solution: Technologies and Policies for a Low-Carbon Future

Induced Technological Change and Climate Policy

U.S. Technology and Innovation Policies: Lessons for Climate Change

Market Mechanisms

Emissions Trading in the U.S.: Experience, Lessons and Considerations for Greenhouse Gases

Early Observations on the European Union's Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme: Insights for United States Policymakers (PDF)

Market Mechanisms for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions: Lessons for California

Registries and Inventories

In Brief: Greenhouse Gas Reporting and Disclosure: Key Elements of a Prospective U.S. Program

An Overview of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Verification Issues

States with GHG Reporting and Registries

Credit for Early Action

Early Action and Global Climate Change: An Analysis of Early Action Crediting Proposals

Early Action Conference Summary and Presentations

Energy Policy

Designing a Climate-Friendly Energy Policy: Options for the Near Term

U.S. Electric Power Sector and Climate Change Mitigation

U.S. Energy Scenarios for the 21st Century


Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions From U.S. Transportation

In Brief: Taking Climate Change Into Account in U.S. Transportation

Comparison of Passenger Vehicle Fuel Economy and GHG Emission Standards Around the World

Buildings and Energy Efficiency

Towards a Climate-Friendly Built Environment

In Brief: Building Solutions to Climate Change

United States Climate Action Partnership

USCAPThe Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (at the time named the Pew Center on Global Climate Change) was a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) — an unprecedented alliance of 22 major businesses and 5 non-governmental organizations. This diverse group of business and environmental leaders came together to call for mandatory action to address climate change.

Members include AES, AlcoaAlstom, Boston Scientific Corporation, Chrysler, The Dow Chemical Company, Duke Energy, DuPont, Environmental Defense FundExelon Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Honeywell,  Johnson & Johnson, Natural Resources Defense CouncilThe Nature Conservancy, NextEra Energy, NRG Energy, PepsiCo, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, PG&E Corporation, PNM ResourcesRio Tinto, Shell, Siemens Corporation, Weyerhaeuser and the World Resources Institute.

USCAP was formed in January 2007 and issued A Call for Action. This document includes a series of principles and recommendations calling for the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Since its founding, USCAP has issued additional reports and briefs:

The Center's resources related to USCAP:

Congressional Briefing Series on Science and Impacts: South American Glacier Loss

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
Two leading experts, Dr. Mathias Vuille and Mr. Walter Vergara, will present the state of knowledge regarding the science and impacts of mountain glacier loss in tropical South America, with special focus on the Andes Mountains of Peru, where glacier retreat is particularly advanced.

October, 20, 2006

The tropical Andes is one of the regions of the globe where recent climate change is most evident.  Andean glaciers are receding rapidly, with potentially severe consequences for the availability of water for drinking, irrigation, mining, and hydropower. Climate models predict an additional warming of 7-9 °F in the region if atmospheric carbon dioxide doubles from pre-industrial levels by the end of this century. Some glaciers are already destined to disappear completely; for many more, the threshold for disappearance will be reached within the next 10 to 20 years unless conditions change quickly.

Rapid glacier retreat places in doubt the sustainability of current patterns of water use and ultimately the viability of the economies and ecologies of the Andes.  The changes induced by tropical glacier retreat constitute an early case of the need for adaptation and therefore an example of the impacts caused by climate change.

Two leading experts, Dr. Mathias Vuille and Mr. Walter Vergara, will present the state of knowledge regarding the science and impacts of mountain glacier loss in tropical South America, with special focus on the Andes Mountains of Peru, where glacier retreat is particularly advanced.

Mathias Vuille, Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Dr. Vuille Research Associate Professor at the Climate System Research Center, Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst.  His research interests are in tropical climatology and paleoclimatology, with particular interest in linking observed modern climate dynamics to paleoclimatic interpretation of proxy data.  He is the lead investigator on a research project funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate the "Impact and consequences of predicted climate change on Andean glaciation and runoff."  He has published more than 40 peer-reviewed papers on paleoclimate and glaciology.  Dr. Vuille earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from University of Bern, Switzerland.

Walter Vergara
The World Bank
Mr. Vergara is Lead Engineer in the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Department of the World Bank’s Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office.  Mr. Vergara works on climate change issues and has participated in development of the carbon finance portfolio in the region, as well as initiatives on adaptation to climate change, transport and climate change, air quality, application of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to wastewater, solid waste management, and renewable energy.  He is the author of four books and numerous technical articles, and currently manages an extensive portfolio of climate initiatives in the region.  Mr. Vergara is a chemical engineer and graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the Universidad de Colombia in Bogotá.

Jay Gulledge, Ph.D.
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Dr. Gulledge is Senior Research Fellow for Science and Impacts at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. He serves as the Center’s in-house scientist and coordinates its work to communicate the state of knowledge on the science and environmental impacts of global climate change to policy-makers and the public. He is also an adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming, home to his academic research on the carbon cycle. He has published more than a dozen refereed journal articles on microbial ecology and biogeochemical cycling of atmospheric greenhouse gases, and serves as an associate editor of Ecological Applications, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Ecological Society of America. Dr. Gulledge earned a PhD in Ecosystem Sciences from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Press Release: Pew Center Reports Spotlight Role of Farms, Forests in Reducing Global Warming

Press Release
September 21, 2006

Contact: Katie Mandes, (703) 516-0606        


WASHINGTON, DC – America’s farms and forestlands have a major role to play in reducing the threat of climate change, according to two reports released today by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.  Changes in agricultural practices coupled with foresting marginal agricultural lands could offset up to one fifth of current U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time creating potential new sources of farming income.  In addition, the nation could reduce emissions by 10 to 25 percent by replacing fossil fuels with biofuels made from agricultural crops. 

The two reports being released today are: Agriculture’s Role in Greenhouse Gas Mitigation by Keith Paustian, John M. Antle, John Sheehan, and Eldor A. Paul, and Agricultural and Forestlands: U.S. Carbon Policy Strategies by Kenneth R. Richards, R. Neil Sampson, and Sandra Brown.

The Pew Center reports showcase the unique position of the agriculture and forestry sectors both as sources of greenhouse gas emissions (including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) and as “sinks” that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The reports also stress that we need to bolster existing programs and develop new ones in order to capitalize on the opportunity to contribute to climate solutions inherent in these two sectors.

“Climate change is the major environmental challenge of our time. In order to address it in the most cost-effective way, we must take advantage of the full range of solutions—and that means rethinking how we manage our forests and farmlands,” said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

In Agriculture’s Role in Greenhouse Gas Mitigation, the authors make the case for “suitable payments” to encourage farmers to adopt new management practices to store carbon in agricultural soils and reduce agricultural emissions of methane and nitrous oxide. Policy incentives also are needed, the authors say, to reduce costs of producing biofuels and accelerate key technologies. The report notes that climate mitigation could potentially become a source of new income and cost reductions for farmers. However, access to financing, changes in economic conditions and technologies, and policies will be key factors that will affect farmers’ willingness to play a part in climate solutions.

The second Pew Center report, Agricultural and Forestlands: U.S. Carbon Policy Strategies, considers a range of policy approaches that would ensure a prominent role for U.S. agricultural and forestlands in national climate mitigation plans. Among the potential policies: changing practices on public lands; land use regulations for privately owned forestlands; and incentives designed to promote climate-friendly practices on agricultural lands.

“We have always known that America’s farms and forests could play an important part in reducing the risks of climate change,” said Claussen. “But these sectors aren’t going to do this on their own—policymakers need to create the framework for these solutions through vigorous incentives and other policies.”

For more information about global climate change and the activities of the Pew Center, visit www.c2es.org.


The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States’ largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment. The Pew Center is an independent, nonprofit, and non-partisan organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

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