Legal Pathways to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Under Section 115 of the Clean Air Act

Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School

Emmett Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, University of California-Los Angeles School of Law

Institute for Policy Integrity, New York University School of Law

UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-11

91 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2016 Last revised: 19 Mar 2016

See all articles by Michael Burger

Michael Burger

Columbia University - Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

Ann E. Carlson

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Michael Gerrard

Columbia University - Law School

Jayni Hein

NYU School of Law; Institute for Policy Integrity, NYU School of Law

Jason A. Schwartz

New York University School of Law

Keith J Benes

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA)

Date Written: January 1, 2016

Abstract

Under President Barack Obama the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has promulgated a series of greenhouse gas emissions regulations, initiating the necessary national response to climate change. However, the United States will need to find other ways to reduce GHG emissions if it is to live up to its international emissions reduction pledges, and to ultimately lead the way to a zero-carbon energy future. This paper argues that the success of the recent climate negotiations in Paris provides a strong basis for invoking a powerful tool available to help achieve the country’s climate change goals: Section 115 of the Clean Air Act, titled “International Air Pollution.” This provision authorizes EPA to require states to address emissions that contribute to air pollution endangering public health or welfare in other countries, if the other countries provide the U.S. with reciprocal protections. The language of Section 115 does not limit the agency to regulating a particular source-type, or a given industrial or economic sector. Rather, it grants EPA and the states broad latitude to address international air pollution comprehensively through the Clean Air Act’s State Implementation Plan process, increasing administrative efficiency and reducing burdens on regulated companies. EPA and the states could use the provision to establish an economy-wide, market-based approach for reducing GHG emissions. Such a program would provide one of the most effective and efficient means to address climate change pollution in the United States.

Keywords: greenhouse gas emissions, Clean Air Act, EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, GHG emissions, GHG, climate change

Suggested Citation

Burger, Michael and Carlson, Ann E. and Gerrard, Michael and Hein, Jayni and Schwartz, Jason A. and Benes, Keith J, Legal Pathways to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Under Section 115 of the Clean Air Act (January 1, 2016). Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School; Institute for Policy Integrity, New York University School of Law; UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2742366

Michael Burger (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Sabin Center for Climate Change Law ( email )

Jerome Greene Hall
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Ann E. Carlson

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
310-206-9496 (Phone)
310-206-1234 (Fax)

Michael Gerrard

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

Jayni Hein

NYU School of Law ( email )

139 MacDougal St.
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Institute for Policy Integrity, NYU School of Law ( email )

139 MacDougal St.
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Jason A. Schwartz

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Keith J Benes

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

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