Patchwork or Preemption? Or Maybe Both

What will happen to state and regional energy and carbon-related regulations if (perhaps when) federal climate legislation is enacted?  If the Attorneys General of California and 6 New England and Mid-Atlantic states have anything to say about it, very little.  

As E&E reported last night, the Attorneys General of Massachusetts, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont and California sent a letter this week to Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman in which they urge the Senators to incorporate provisions in the climate bill expected to be announced later this month, which save existing state initiatives.  Drawing a parallel to California’s emissions standards waiver under the Clean Air Act, they urge coexisting federal and State authority to spur energy independence and reduce global warming pollution.

Some suggestions make a lot of sense for both regulators and the regulated community: allowing time for industries participating in regional programs to transition to federal programs, providing for an exchange of RGGI allowances, and maintaining EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate in the absence of functional federal programs created by new legislation could all allow the transition between programs to flow more smoothly. 

However, their call to keep cap-and-trade initiatives like RGGI viable in the midst of federal cap-and-trade, and at most impose only a temporary moratorium for a fixed period of time, seems more like a land grab than good policy.  The AGs say it would provide a valuable incentive to ensure rigorous implementation and enforcement of the federal program.  No. Overlapping cap-and-trade programs would only create a mess.  A nationwide and comprehensive cap-and-trade program is clearly preferable, for both the economy and achieving reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. 

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