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Climate Policy and the United States System of Divided Powers: Dealing with Carbon Leakage and Regulatory Linkage


Daniel A. Farber


University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

November 11, 2012

UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2174024

Abstract:     
In the absence of comprehensive federal climate legislation, state governments and the executive branch have moved forward with efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. Two important components of effective policies are (1) tools to limit the potential for carbon emissions to shift outside a jurisdiction (carbon leakage), and (2) cross-boundary linkages to improve effectiveness and reduce costs. For instance, states may adopt life cycle analysis as part of regulations or carbon taxes, and they may link carbon trading schemes with other states or with foreign jurisdictions. The executive branch may address carbon leakage by tailoring regulations to the potential for emissions to shift abroad and may also enter into cooperative agreements with other nations through executive agreements.

These important components of climate policy could easily be supplied by Congress, but efforts to supply them by states or executive branch encounter constitutional challenges. This article argues in favor of the constitutionality of such efforts. It rejects attacks on state policies based on the compact clause, dormant commerce clause, and foreign affairs preemption. It also argues in favor of EPA authority to tailor regulations to limit leakage and in favor of presidential efforts at international cooperation.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 26

Keywords: climate change, dormant commerce clause, foreign affairs preemption, carbon leakage, EPA greenhouse gas regulations, treaty clause, foreign affairs powers

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Date posted: November 11, 2012 ; Last revised: May 26, 2014

Suggested Citation

Farber, Daniel A., Climate Policy and the United States System of Divided Powers: Dealing with Carbon Leakage and Regulatory Linkage (November 11, 2012). UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2174024. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2174024 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2174024

Contact Information

Daniel A. Farber (Contact Author)
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )
Boalt Hall
Room 894
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-642-0340 (Phone)
510-642-3728 (Fax)
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