Followup: Could the EPA Mandate a National Cap-and-Trade Program?

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


Quick update: last night I wrote a post about an NRDC proposal on carbon reduction from existing power plants. Basically, they suggest that the EPA should set standards for each state, then allow the states to meet those standards however they want. If they wanted to, states could even trade credits back and forth in order to meet their caps.

My question: If EPA has the authority to do this, why not just mandate a national cap-and-trade plan instead? That would be more efficient, and probably no more politically difficult than the NRDC plan.

Leaving the political issues aside, I’ve gotten some answers—sort of—about EPA’s legal authority, which is based on a combination of (a) a court ruling that CO2 is a pollutant and (b) EPA’s responsibilities under the Clean Air Act. I haven’t dived into this deeply or anything, but apparently NRDC believes its plan is legal because it follows the fundamental structure of the CAA, which generally requires EPA to set out state standards for pollutants. However, some interest groups think that EPA also has the authority to mandate a national cap-and-trade plan.

Long story short, a cap-and-trade mandate might be legal, but also might be risky, especially given the conservative makeup of both the DC Circuit Court and the Supreme Court. So far, there’s no sign that EPA thinks it has the legal authority to create such a mandate. Conversely, the NRDC plan is probably less risky thanks to its state-based structure, though it’s still not a slam dunk either.

If I learn more, I’ll write a followup. I just wanted to pass this along since I mentioned it last night.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate