Welcome To Climate Lawyers Blog

Welcome To Climate Lawyers Blog

June 4, 2008 03:22

Welcome to our climate law blog, a legal and public policy forum presented by the Climate Change and Renewable Energy Practice Group of McCarter & English, LLP on issues concerning the legal, regulatory and business risk issues arising from global climate change.  For years, our lawyers have been drawing on their varied experiences in the areas of environmental law, energy regulation, business litigation, public strategy, real property, construction law and insurance coverage claims, to name a few of the relevant legal disciplines, to understand and be prepared for advising clients on the emerging legal issues associated with climate change. 

Over the last few years, public policy debates have accelerated as scientific consensus emerged, leading many state to enact legislative initiatives to target climate change and promote renewable energy as the federal government’s role remained limited to isolated actions, including initiatives to promote voluntary responses to climate change.

Litigators, including many states and public interest groups, have turned to the courts as an alternative strategy to encourage federal responses to climate change, with mixed results.  The April, 2007 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the Court held that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cannot continue its policy of refusing to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide from new motor vehicle exhaust, proved to be a landmark ruling that continues to have impacts on emerging regulatory developments within the EPA, and its reach is expected to extend beyond mobile sources of air pollution, such as new motor vehicle exhaust, to stationary sources, such as power plants and industrial boilers. 

While many people expected that this Supreme Court decision would open the door for the State of California to receive a waiver (of federal preemption) from the EPA to allow California to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases, the EPA declined, indicating in December, 2007 that new energy legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush provided a better federal fuel economy standard than could be achieved with a “patchwork” approach if California were allowed to proceed.

The vehicle emission debate over whether federal or state governments should regulate greenhouse gas emissions is a classic example of the trends that the regulated community faces these days as federal, state and even local governments attempt to target greenhouse gas emissions or promote “green” technologies or cap-and-trade programs to slow, stop and reverse the trends of climate change.  Business and industry often prefers and coordinated federal response, for example, but the federal government’s inaction has allowed states and regions, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”), to make substantial progress over the last five years in addressing the issues more locally.  The resulting framework poses greater challenges for businesses and industries to ensure compliance.

Given the foregoing background, we are confident that we will have plenty to write about in this blog and we invite comments and participation to help focus our discussions.  Wylie Donald, a partner resident in our Wilmington office, draws on substantial environmental experience, prior non-legal technical work, and deep involvement in risk management to assist clients in understanding and controlling the coming regulatory and non-regulatory impacts of climate change.  He has authored climate change articles and made leading presentations to clients and industry.  One example is his article, Climate Change and the D&O Pollution Exclusion, 41 Tort Trial & Ins. L.J. 1033 (Summer 2006), one of the first to extrapolate climate change legal impacts outside of the regulatory area.  Another, which he co-authored with Craig Davis, Carbon Dioxide: Harmless, Ubiquitous and Certainly Not a Pollutant Under a Liability Policy's Absolute Pollution Exclusion, is pending for publication in the Seton Hall Law Review and demonstrates his commitment to outstanding legal scholarship on the climate change issues.

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Comments (1) -

11/15/2011 12:29:09 AM #

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