Federal emissions law urged by business-NGO coalition News
Federal emissions law urged by business-NGO coalition

[JURIST] A coalition of businesses and environmental groups on Monday called for federal legislation to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In a letter to President Bush a day before his State of the Union Address [White House materials], the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) [advocacy website] advocated a "cap and trade" system [press release], in which companies whose emissions exceed mandatory limits could buy credits from companies that produce less pollution. "This approach will ensure emission reduction targets will be met while simultaneously … stimulat[ing] investment and innovation in the technologies that will be necessary to achieve our environmental goal," USCAP wrote in A Call for Action, a 16-page report [PDF text] released by the group Monday. Specifically, USCAP recommended that Congress set short-term and long-term targets for cutting emissions, ranging from a 10 percent reduction within 10 years to as much as 80 percent by 2050.

Scientific research suggests [NYT report] that man-made greenhouse gases contribute to global warming [EPA backgrounders]. USCAP's 14 members include large corporations such as Alcoa, BP America, DuPont and General Electric [corporate websites] as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the World Resources Institute [advocacy websites]. Its report is the culmination of a year-long effort. White House press secretary Tony Snow responded to the USCAP proposal [Bloomberg News report] during his daily briefing [transcript], noting that although Bush opposes mandatory CO2 limits, he will discuss alternatives to fossil fuels in his address to Congress on Tuesday. AP has more. C-SPAN has recorded video of the USCAP press conference.

In September, California became the first US state to restrict greenhouse gas emissions [JURIST report] when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill [text] authorizing a state board to set emissions targets for various industries. The law is intended to cut emissions 25 percent by the year 2020. Among other efforts to address the problem, several Northeastern states have joined [Providence Journal report] the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative [group website], which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants through a regional cap-and-trade program. Meanwhile, Iowa last week became the latest Midwestern state to sign on [Radio Iowa report] to the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium [group website], which hopes to establish a voluntary registry for companies to report their emissions-reduction efforts.

At the federal level, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments [PDF transcript; JURIST report] in November in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency [docket; merits briefs; Duke Law case backgrounder], which presents the question of whether the federal Clean Air Act [text] requires the EPA to regulate automobile emissions. A decision is expected later this year.

This report was prepared in partnership with the Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law.