Climate policy heats up after the Great Recession.
It’s been smoldering for a while.
Last decade, climate regulation seemed inevitable. The year 2003 saw the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative emerge in the Northeast. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed California’s AB32 in 2006. Dozens more states established their own climate action plans. And in 2009, early in the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its famous “endangerment finding,” setting the stage for federal regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) under the Clean Air Act.
Still we watch for sparks of flame.
The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) in 2009 lent support to the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which passed in the U.S. House but went nowhere in the Senate. Climate change got pushed to the back burner, usurped by TARP, ARRA, and Obamacare – not to mention the backlash from a newly elected House Republican majority.
Nevertheless, the smoldering continued. The courts upheld EPA’s endangerment finding, while turning away nuisance lawsuits in the context of impending regulation. Hundreds of cities across the country advanced separate efforts to reduce GHG emissions. RGGI grew (and shrank when Gov. Chris Christie took New Jersey out of the group). And renewable and clean energy initiatives at federal and state levels proceeded and (mostly) expanded, with GHG-abatement lurking as a key policy driver.