This post was also written by Larry Demase.
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has increased the chances that Congress will send energy-related legislation to the President’s desk before the midterm congressional elections in November. We note that last year the House of Representatives passed and sent to the Senate H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which sets goals for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, by a cap-and-trade system. The Senate has now gotten involved, with Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) soliciting proposals from Senate committees with jurisdiction on energy issues by the July 4 congressional recess. In addition, Republican and Democratic Senators recently met with the President to discuss compromise measures. Given the debate, and divisions, on climate change, it is not clear whether a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions will ultimately be included in an energy bill that reaches the President’s desk. However, if Congress fails to act in this area, it remains possible that the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) will step in and use its authority under the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401) to create a cap-and-trade program. EPA has already taken several steps to regulate Green House Gases (“GHGs”). However, with climate legislation uncertain challenges to EPA’s ability to regulate GHG’s also mount. If Congress or EPA does not create a federal cap-and-trade program, a variety of existing state initiatives may fill the void.
The following Client Alert discusses the efforts to enact energy measures and where the fault lines lie in the ongoing debate. A thorough understanding of the actions both in Congress and the Obama Administration is required to understand the interplay of both legislation and regulations, and the opportunity that exists to address their impact within both the legislative and executive branches. Reed Smith’s Public Policy & Infrastructure Practice, in collaboration with its Environmental Practice, has been monitoring energy and climate change deliberations throughout the 111th Congress, and is available to discuss how to develop an immediate lobbying strategy, as well as a longer-term effort that works with both Congress and the Obama Administration.