While the health care debate is currently dominating the headlines, the federal climate change bill will be the next major legislative battle. The House of Representative passed climate change legislation in June, the centerpiece of which is a massive federal cap and trade program for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Senate is expected to consider the issue in the next legislative session. California has been at the forefront of the climate change issue, passing the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006 which requires aggressive action to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. True to its form, California has taken the lead in urging the Senate to pass a climate change bill that also preserves state authority to implement programs that complement any federal program.  

California Attorney General Jerry Brown and Other Attorneys General Urge Federal Action on Climate Change

California Attorney General Jerry Brown, joined by the attorneys general of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware and New Jersey, submitted a letter last week urging the Senate to pass a sweeping climate change bill that would allow for states to have authority in instituting state and regional emissions trading programs concurrent with the federal government’s program. The attorneys general also requested that citizen suits be allowed as an enforcement mechanism, demanded stringent accounting and oversight of cap and trade markets, and asserted that the federal Environmental Protection Agency should continue to have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. A copy of the letter authored by California AG Brown and his colleagues is linked here.

The Western Climate Initiative Submits Recommendations for Federal Climate Change Bill

On September 4, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a collaboration of seven US States (California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Utah, Montana and New Mexico) and 4 Canadian provinces (Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba), submitted a letter to the Senate advocating for the passage of a climate change bill that reduces emissions while maintaining state authority over cap and trade programs and other state-administered laws to combat GHG emissions. The WCI has been developing a regional cap and trade market for more than two years that is expected to account for over 90% of the emissions in the participating states and provinces. The WCI is also calling for setting limits on offsets to avoid fraud, and advocates for third-party verification of the GHG emissions reported by industry to ensure the accuracy and credibility of any cap and trade program. The WCI urges that state and local land use and transportation initiatives (such as state implementation of low carbon fuel standards and land use restrictions) not be preempted and be allowed to continue as a complement to any federal program. A copy of the WCI’s letter can be found here.

This site will continue to provide summaries of significant events in the ongoing climate change legislative debate.