California Dreamin'

California has been on the cutting edge of climate change regulation, including passing the first state-wide code for green building and a new measure to limit sprawl.

I have discussed here before that regulation of environmental issues can have a positive benefit-- there has been much discussion on the campaign trail about the healing power of green jobs for the economy. The Berkeley Center for Energy, Resources and Economic Sustainability had a study out today which reveals that California's climate change regulation, and the accompanying reduction in energy use, has been very good for the economy.

State of Climate Change Law

Interesting article on the status of laywers pursuing climate change practices.

The article notes that there really aren't any cases yet. I believe that the first cases will come in the green building area, because of the myriad of local laws that have been springing up in recent years. The laws have been passed quickly, and in many cases mandate the achievement of LEED or LEED-equivalent standards.

Considering Global Warming In Environmental Review of New Projects

As of September 1, 2007 King County, Washington is "requiring County agencies to consider climate change impacts as part of their project review under Washington's State Environmental Policy Act ("SEPA")."

In short, King County is on the leading edge of local governments starting to mandate consideration of global warming as part of development projects. A good, in depth article on the King County legislation is available from the Marten Law Group.

I Want Hillary Clinton's $50 Billion

On Monday, Hillary Clinton reiterated her proposal to "establish a $50 billion 'Strategic Energy Fund' that would create a research agency focused on reducing the threat of global warming." Among other things, Clinton proposed "spending $1 billion a year to improve energy efficiency in schools and other public buildings."

According to the Boston Globe, Senator Clinton proposed paying for the initiative by taxing oil company profits. "Oil companies...would face a choice: invest $20 billion in alternative fuel technology and build cleaner refineries or pay taxes on some of their profits."

As I have said many times before, the government's spending power is a powerful thing, and I support the Senator's plan. And I am also in favor of creating a economic system under which the true cost of petroleum products is included in the price, including taxes and environmental impact.

But I am concerned that I haven't heard anything about changing the investment in infrastructure. The government must not only stop subsidizing the oil companies, but must also decrease investment in highway building and increase investment in alternative transportation mechanisms to reduce our oil dependency. It is absurd that it takes 1.5 hours and $100+ to travel 94 miles from New York to Philadelphia by train.

The presidential candidates need to examine the built environment and build a comprehensive plan, including legal and economic components, to address the global warming/sustainability issue