In President Obama's Feb. 24, 2009 address to Congress, he called on "Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution." His address, coupled with the President's FY 2010 budget proposal, outlined the Administration's plans to develop a comprehensive energy and climate change plan to invest in clean energy, end our addiction to oil, address the global climate crisis, and create new American jobs that cannot be outsourced. After enactment of the budget, the Administration indicated it will work expeditiously with key stakeholders and the Congress to develop an economy-wide emissions reduction program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions approximately 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and approximately 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The Obama Administration anticipates that this program will be implemented through a cap-and-trade system, a policy approach that was used to regulate sulfur dioxide emissions and which significantly reduced acid rain at much lower costs than the traditional government regulations and mandates of the past. Through a 100 percent auction to ensure that the biggest polluters do not enjoy windfall profits, the government projects that this program would fund investments in a clean energy future totaling $150 billion over 10 years, starting in FY 2012. The balance of the auction revenues would be returned to public programs to assist families, communities, and businesses in the transition to a clean energy economy.

Given this emphasis, we are likely looking at federal legislation this year in the form of a federal cap and trade program (although this may be delayed somewhat due to the economic crisis). Stay tuned to this blog for comments regarding what will it look like, what business opportunities to expect, and what you can do now to shape legislation.