The dramatic shift in climate change policy initiated by the Obama administration was brought into sharp focus this week when the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce held hearings on the proposal by Congressmen Markey and Waxman to create a comprehensive regulatory program to control U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). The hearings featured testimony from the U.S. Secretaries of Energy and Transportation and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as many representatives of industry and environmental coalitions.
On Wednesday April 22, one of my former students, Yvette Pena-Lopes, testified at the hearings on behalf of the Blue-Green Alliance, a coalition of labor unions and environmental groups dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in a green economy. Ms. Pena announced that the Alliance had brokered an important joint statement between unions and environmental groups urging the adoption of a national program to control emissions of GHGs. A copy of this statement is available at: http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/atf/cf/%7B3637E5F0-D0EA-46E7-BB32-74D973EFF334%7D/Final%20Climate%20Policy,%20vFinal.pdf. It emphasizes the importance of using the best scientific evidence to develop policy, creating incentives to promote investment in clean technology, and creating and retaining green jobs.
Industry opponents of U.S. legislation to control GHG emissions are running ad campaigns in Washington arguing that “now is not the time” to raise the cost of energy use, citing the current global economic crisis. While some industry groups would like to block any legislation to control GHG emissions, others are concentrating on defeating President Obama’s proposal to auction off all the allowances to emit GHGs that are established by the new legislation. Many companies emitting GHGs are lobbying the government to give them some of the initial emissions allowances for free.
This week I had my final class of the semester at Maryland and I was rained out of two baseball games. On Monday a lengthy rain delay caused my law school friend, a top labor advocate before the Supreme Court, and I to forego attending the Nationals/Braves game. After a delay of more than two hours that left the stands sparsely populated, the Nats eventually won the game, the major league debut of their phenomenal rookie pitcher Jordan Zimmerman. Last Tuesday night I had a ticket to see the Red Sox play the Twins at Fenway, but the game was rained out. Fortunately, one of my Harvard environmental law students was able to use my ticket to attend the makeup game on Wednesday afternoon while I gave a talk on “Global Environmental Law on the 40th Earth Day” to the Harvard Environmental Law Society.
Next Tuesday I won’t fear a rainout when I attend Game 5 of the NBA playoffs at the Boston Garden between the Celtics and the Chicago Bulls prior to teaching my final Environmental Law class of the semester at Harvard on Wednesday. On Friday I fly to Beijing for a two-week speaking tour of China sponsoring by the U.S. State Department.