Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Reed Smith's environmental attorneys in California have taken a leading role in grappling with the novel issues arising from that state's precedent-setting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction program.  California enacted AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, and efforts to implement that legislation are currently being undertaken by the California Air Resources Board, the California Public Utilities Commission, and other state agencies.

Although it is not yet certain precisely how the state's implementation efforts will evolve, it is clear that AB 32 will have an enormous impact on most industry sectors as we move toward a carbon-constrained future.  It is anticipated that meeting California's goals will cost hundreds of billions of dollars over the next several decades.

Our attorneys are confronting a plethora of issues, including:  California's application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a waiver of the Clean Air Act preemption that would allow California to regulate mobile source (vehicle) emissions of GHG (at least 14 other states have pledged to follow California's more rigorous standards rather than federal standards if the waiver is granted); the process of generating a mandatory inventory of the GHG footprint of California businesses; advice with regard to corporate sustainability and an analysis framework for business risk analysis; the development of a cap-and-trade program for GHG advice to clients regarding business opportunities under cap-and-trade (domestic and international); the assessment of GHG impacts from development projects under the California Environmental Quality Act; developments across the country, including RGGI and the Chicago Climate Exchange; and state and federal attempts to regulate emissions from ocean-going vessels. 

We have been involved in renewable energy projects, and related transmission line issues, to facilitate efforts to meet the California PUC's renewable portfolio standard.  Our attorneys have authored many well-regarded articles, including one in West's "Climate Change Litigation: Trends and Developments" in the Bureau of National Affairs Environmental Reporter on climate change litigation trends and developments. 

We have made numerous presentations to energy, utility and other groups about current developments in climate change regulation over the past two years, including a recent Reed Smith University teleseminar on the subject.  And we have spoken on private sector efforts to reduce GHG at a Pacific Basin Consortium conference on climate change in Beijing in late 2007.