One of the centerpieces of the United States’ effort to combat climate change is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) controversial Clean Power Plan, which consists of the first-ever federal regulations requiring states to achieve massive carbon dioxide emissions reductions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. The regulations operate by setting interim and final emissions target dates for states to ultimately reach an aggregate 32% reduction in carbon emissions by the year 2030. This Note argues that the current regulations will not survive judicial scrutiny, because the U.S. Supreme Court has moved away from traditional administrative deference in instances where an administrative agency seeks an enormous and transformative expansion to its regulatory authority. Furthermore, several studies predict that the impact to global greenhouse gas reduction from unilateral U.S. action will be negligible. As a result, rather than promulgating sweeping and inflexible rules for limiting carbon emissions, the EPA’s central focus and barometer for the plan’s effectiveness should be its ability to spur and then sustain international climate change efforts. This Note thus suggests some pragmatic amendments to the Clean Power Plan to ensure that, when implementing reduction plans, states and utilities have sufficient flexibility to alleviate potential grid reliability complications, negative economic ramifications, and legal challenges that plague the current regulations.
The Legal Climate on Climate Change: The Fate of The EPA's Clean Power Plan after Michigan and UARG,
11 Brook. J. Corp. Fin. & Com. L.
Available at: http://brooklynworks.brooklaw.edu/bjcfcl/vol11/iss2/8