Pressure for national legislation builds as the Northeastern U.S. goes it alone and carbon trading takes off in the European Union.
Peter Fontaine co-chairs the Energy, Environmental & Public Utility Practice Group of the Cozen O'Connor law firm. He was formerly a Clean Air Act enforcement lawyer with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.
Domestic and international pressures are building rapidly on the United States to enact some form of legislation to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, as a spate of recent developments turns up the heat on the Bush administration. Internal pressure is building on several fronts. First, coalitions of nine Northeast states and three West Coast states are moving forward with their own regional greenhouse-gas cap-and-trade programs, raising the prospect of uneven CO2 regulation across the nation and electricity market distortions. Second, the bi-partisan National Commission on Energy Policy published a report in December urging the Congress and the White House to implement national legislation establishing a mandatory, economy-wide, tradable-permits program to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The regional greenhouse-gas programs and the recommendations of the National Commission on Energy Policy are likely preludes to the reintroduction in early 2005 of the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act. The bill would establish a national greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program to reduce CO2 to year 2000 emission levels over the period 2010 to 2015.