Getting To Yes, Maybe--A Response From Jennifer Simon

Jennifer Simon practices environmental law at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, LLP. She focuses her practice on alternative energy project development, permitting, and O&M with an especial emphasis on offshore renewable energy projects. She maintains a blog on offshore renewable energy at

Yesterday, Shari suggested that Obama’s “last ditch effort” to enact a watered-down energy/climate bill is just not worth the effort. As Pennsylvanians, Shari and I both live in a state that has identified “clean coal” resources (like coal gasification) as renewable resources, so we know a thing or two about ineffectual climate policy. Given Pennsylvania’s apparently futile approach to climate change, I am not surprised that Shari is uncomfortable with President Obama’s proposed energy/climate bill. However, I would suggest that this bill could provide the foundation upon which a comprehensive legislative solution could be built.

Congress has been dithering around with potential climate legislation for more than half a decade while various government entities have questioned whether climate change science is accurate, whether regulations can be effected under current statutory schemes (e.g., the Clean Air Act), and whether the costs of regulation outweigh the benefits of saving life on planet earth. Meanwhile, emissions from energy generators, buildings, and mobile sources continue to rise and the predictions of dire consequences attributable to climate change continue to become direr and more imminent.

In the late 1970s, scientists announced that the dangerous thinning of the earth’s atmospheric ozone layer was due to anthropogenic causes, legislators and regulators were equally paralyzed by competing interests and apathy. But in 1978, EPA took an affirmative—if not remotely comprehensive—step by banning aerosol chlorofluorocarbons (“CFCs”). As social consciousness and international pressure increased, this initial regulatory ban on aerosol CFCs ultimately led to the U.S. signing and ratifying the 1987 Montreal Protocol—a far reaching and comprehensive international treaty which will likely yield statistically significant improvement over the next 50 years.

Climate change, like ozone depletion—or healthcare for that matter—is a hot button issue where legislative consensus is a near impossibility. But we need to start somewhere, don`t we?

Trackbacks (0) Links to blogs that reference this article Trackback URL
Comments (0) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end