Geoengineering Research Under U.S. Law

Pratt's Energy Law Report, volume 18, number 3 (March 2018), 67-75, ISBN: 978-1-6328-0836-3

14 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2018

See all articles by Norman Carlin

Norman Carlin

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Robert A. James

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Date Written: March 13, 2018

Abstract

Geoengineering — the deliberate modification of the earth’s climate to offset carbon emissions from human activity — was once the stuff of science fiction. Ideas of warding off the sun’s rays, or pulling greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, are now being discussed not only in academic settings and media, but also in the halls of government. Some think these techniques might save the planet or lend humanity a vital window of opportunity; others consider them a dangerous distraction from a decarbonized energy future. How will we ever find out?

Through research, of course. But how geoengineering research can be conducted consistent with existing laws is highly complex.

The authors first divide the techniques under consideration between solar radiation management (aerosols in the stratosphere, or greater white surfaces below) and carbon dioxide removal (ocean iron fertilization (OIF) and other forms of carbon capture and sequestration). They detail the analysis required for an environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and a variety of other U.S. statutes and common-law doctrines.

Research-specific compliance is urged rather than awaiting the full body of evidence best suited for a programmatic EIS for full deployment. Only by encouraging research will it be possible to make appropriate decisions on whether to deploy geoengineering at the scale and for the duration needed to help combat climate change.

Keywords: geoengineering, solar radiation management, carbon dioxide removal, ocean iron fertilization, OIF, NEPA, EIS

JEL Classification: K32, K13

Suggested Citation

Carlin, Norman and James, Robert A., Geoengineering Research Under U.S. Law (March 13, 2018). Pratt's Energy Law Report, volume 18, number 3 (March 2018), 67-75, ISBN: 978-1-6328-0836-3. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3149238 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3149238

Norman Carlin (Contact Author)

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP ( email )

San Francisco CA
4 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States
415-983-1133 (Phone)
415-983-1200 (Fax)

Robert A. James

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP ( email )

Four Embarcadero Center, 22nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.pillsburylaw.com/rob-james

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
53
rank
366,028
Abstract Views
745
PlumX Metrics