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CARB chairwoman ushers in inaugural Climate & Energy Law Symposium at USD

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In February 2009, the Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) and the San Diego Journal for Climate & Energy Law (JCEL) held the inaugural Climate & Energy Law Symposium on the USD campus.

California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chairman Mary Nichols kicked off the event by discussing her organization’s role developing the structure to implement California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) and its supporting measures. AB 32 requires California to adopt regulations to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 greenhouse gas levels by 2050.

States have a unique ability to be agile, innovative and even aggressive in their efforts to deal with pollution, and our federal system encourages state innovation. To explain, Nichols quoted former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who said, “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory and try novel economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

California has taken this advice and moved forward as a laboratory for climate change.

However, Nichols explained, a framework in which the states have the ability to participate with the federal government is going to take the best efforts of leaders from both sides. “You can’t get to the 80 percent by 2050 without the cooperation of sources that are exclusively under federal jurisdiction.”

For this reason, Nichols said, “I don’t think there’s too much debate that we want the federal government to come in and take an active role on the state’s behalf. The Clean Air Act remains the best model and the best tool we have today to take on a problem of this kind. And, perhaps not a complete solution, it offers a good basis so we do not have to reinvent the wheel.”

Nichols stressed that the federal government must set a framework that will require us all to move forward.

“It’s happened before. It’s worked with our vehicle standards. It’s worked with energy efficiency standards. And we see no reason why it won’t continue to be effective in areas of advanced fuels and technology.”

To watch Nichols’ full presentation and the three panel discussions from the inaugural symposium, go to law.sandiego.edu/watchcelsymposium.

Second annual symposium

The University of San Diego's second annual Climate & Energy Law Symposium titled “Next-Generation Regulation: Instrument Choice in Climate Law,” will be held Friday, April 9 in Warren Auditorium at Mother Rosalie Hill Hall on the USD campus. The symposium will explore various regulatory approaches being proposed and adopted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Panels will focus on how innovative regulatory instruments such as carbon taxes and emissions trading complement, displace and otherwise interact with traditional “direct” regulatory approaches such as setting and enforcing emissions standards.

For more information about the upcoming event, go to law.sandiego.edu/celsymposium.

Submitted by the University of San Diego

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