Environment + Climate

Legal analysis shows how untapped Clean Air Act provision can reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Report by UCLA, NYU and Columbia climate law centers finds that EPA can create program under Section 115 to help achieve Paris agreement goals


A report co-authored by UCLA School of Law professor Ann Carlson has found that an unused provision of the Clean Air Act authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to develop and implement an economy-wide, market-based program to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions and achieve the Obama Administration’s pledge at the recent U.N. climate change talks in Paris.

The paper (PDF) was published by UCLA Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School and the Institute for Policy Integrity at NYU School of Law, three of the country’s leading centers devoted to climate change.

The study reports that that the plan could be implemented without further Congressional action and would provide regulators and businesses seeking to mitigate climate change with increased flexibility, heightened administrative and economic efficiency and greater effectiveness.   

“Congress had remarkable prescience in including a provision in the Clean Air Act that directs the United States to work to tackle international pollution problems as long as other countries are helping solve the problem, too,” said Ann Carlson, a lead author of the report, faculty co-director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law at UCLA Law. “The Paris agreement demonstrates this collective effort to solve the problem of climate change and Section 115 provides the U.S. with a flexible, creative way to cut its emissions and live up to its Paris commitment.”

Read the full news release here.

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