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Financially Equivalent but Behaviorally Distinct? Pollution Tax and Cap-and-Trade Negotiations

Economic theory suggests that pollution tax and cap-and-trade regulations can be functionally equivalent. Environmentalists tend to prefer the firm emissions cap in cap-and-trade programs, while economists and business interests tend to prefer the price certainty of tax programs. But both may be overlooking behavioral distinctions between the two policies. Using a novel randomized case experiment, this Article tests whether the framing changes negotiated policies.

The Acceleration of Climate Creep: The Court Crashes, Congress Surges

This Comment takes up two recent conflicting developments: the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which was designed to undercut present and future federal climate action, and Congress’ surprising countermove passing climate legislation in the form of the Inflation Reduction Act, which has dramatically accelerated development of the rule of law around climate change in the United States.

Analyzing West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency

On the final day of the 2021-2022 term, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. The majority (6-3) opinion limited the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants under Clean Air Act §111(d), in part by invoking the “major questions doctrine.” The decision has implications for EPA’s authority both to regulate emissions from stationary sources and to regulate greenhouse gases more broadly.

Rising Tides-Toward a Federal Climate Resilience Fund

Climate impacts in the United States disproportionately fall on low-income communities and communities of color. As the costs of climate adaptation mount, municipalities and states have brought litigation against fossil fuel companies to recover for extensive damage caused by climate change. Drawing on lessons from previous tobacco and asbestos suits, this Article argues that damages litigation—while properly heard in state courts—has significant shortcomings as an equitable climate change adaptation strategy.

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency: The Agency's Climate Authority

On February 28, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the landmark West Virginia v. EPA case, involving the scope of powers delegated to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Clean Air Act. The Court’s decision will affect administrative law, and could have major consequences for environmental law, particularly the Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and take action on climate change.

Climate Creep

At this point in time, climate change pervades every aspect of contemporary life. It is a persistent current through our lives and, increasingly, throughout the law. One would be hard-pressed to find any area of law that has not or will not soon be touched by climate change. The onset of climate change has prompted decades worth of deep and wide efforts to reshape law and policy. Yet, alongside this development, there is also erosion.

Toward Tradable Building Performance Standards

The European Union, China, California, and a number of U.S. states in the Northeast are currently using emissions trading as part of their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, the popularity of emissions trading as a policy tool co-exists with a well-established, and increasingly politically powerful, set of critiques of it in the United States. These critiques come from environmental justice advocates as well as some academics and other observers.

Adapting to a 4°C World

The Paris Agreement’s goal to hold warming to 1.5°-2°C above pre-industrial levels now appears unrealistic. Profs. Robin Kundis Craig and J.B. Ruhl have recently argued that because a 4°C world may be likely, we must recognize the disruptive consequences of such a world and respond by reimagining governance structures to meet the challenges of adapting to it.

Thwarting Climate Change, Brick by Brick

While climate policy typically focuses on future decarbonization 10 to 20 years out, temperatures continue to rise. Greenhouse gases emitted upfront from the materials fabrication, construction, and renovation of our physical environment—embodied emissions—accelerate the rate of global warming now. They increase atmospheric carbon before our buildings and infrastructure are even used.