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GEI Director Melissa Powers Online and on the Air Discusses the Administration’s Stance on Climate, Comprehensive Decarbonization Strategy, and Juliana v United States

October 26, 2018

“For years, many conservatives have denied that climate change is real and that humans have caused climate change by burning fossil fuels,” Melissa writes on the Center for Progressive Reform’s blog. “Buried in a 500-page justification for a rule that would prevent California (and, by extension, other states) from regulating emissions of greenhouse gases from new vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that any regulation of greenhouse gases would be futile because climate models show that global temperatures will increase by up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit no matter how the United States behaves… It’s hard to imagine a more cynical reversal in positions…The Trump administration’s cynical claim that incremental efforts are futile could become the new strategy for the federal government and other polluters to deny states and concerned citizens access to the courts. ” Read Melissa’s full post on the legal ramifications of the administration’s change of heart on the Center for Progressive Reform’s blog.
Melissa also contributed to the Environmental Law Prof Blog (published piece forthcoming) to suggest the way elected leaders can and should address climate change. “‘Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.’ If that’s so, our climate and energy laws have been perfectly designed to fall short.They will not avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change or enable a swift transition to a zero-carbon energy system, because they have not been designed to achieve those outcomes. Instead, climate and energy laws in the United States, including those promoted by the most progressive jurisdictions, aredesigned to gradually reduce some emissions and eventually phase out fossil fuels from some sectors, but they are not designed to achieve the drastic systemic changes in our energy sectors and human behavior that are necessary to quickly and permanently reduce greenhouse gases…We must change this approach. The United States and the rest of the world must quickly establish and achieve end goals for climate mitigation. U.S. lawmakers at the local, state, and federal (after the Trump Administration is out of office) levelsmust commit to complete energy decarbonization by 2050. They then must design their decarbonization strategies to ensure they meet this ambitious target.” Stay tuned for the full blog post on the Environmental Law Prof Blog.
On OPB’s Think Out Loud segment, Melissa Powers discussed Juliana v United States, the case of 21 young plaintiffs suing the federal government for infringing on the plaintiffs’ rights to a healthy, livable future. “They [the plaintiffs] are asking for the federal government to develop a plan to eliminate fossil fuels from our energy system so that we can turn to carbon-free energy sources,” said Melissa. The trial had been scheduled to begin in Eugene on Monday, but the Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay. Melissa explained how any further intervention from the Supreme Court would be extraordinary and deprive the plaintiffs of their right to present facts to support their case. Listen to the full segment on OPB’s site here.
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