The states are getting into the act on greenhouse emissions, and the power industry is getting more proactive. What policy measures are appropriate?
Sanne B. Jacobsen, a Research Assistant at the Sustainable Energy Institute, is a recent graduate of the University of California at Berkeley’s program in Environmental Engineering Science. Neil J. Numark, SEI’s chairman, is President of Numark Associates, Inc., an energy and environmental consulting firm based in Washington specializing in nuclear energy and climate change issues. Paloma Sarria is project coordinator at SEI and coauthor of U.S. Business Actions to Address Climate Change: Case Studies of Five Industry Sectors, an SEI report published in GreenBiz in November 2004.
The authors would like to thank Entergy Corp. for sponsoring SEI’s roundtable on state-level climate change policies as well as this article.
A growing number of U.S. utility companies have come out in favor of federal mandatory limits on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from their facilities. Edison International's Chairman John Bryson recently called for a comprehensive national program to address global warming; eight companies constituting the "Clean Energy Group" support national "four-pollutant" legislation that would among other things seek to stabilize carbon emissions at 2001 levels by 2013; and Cinergy has voiced its support for mandatory limits on carbon emissions. Cinergy, which relies heavily on coal, is among the companies named in the landmark public nuisance lawsuit filed last July by a coalition of eight state attorneys general, led by New York's Eliot Spitzer. Furthermore, shareholder pressure has forced Cinergy and other companies to examine their risks related to climate-change regulation. Finally, companies doing business in states with mandatory carbon caps under development, such as those in Regional Greenhouse-Gas Initiative (RGGI) states, would rather have federal regulation extend those limits to the entire industry, thereby leveling the playing field on a national scale.