Breaking the Logjam issues report calling for revamping of Clean Air Act

Photo of Richard StewartPhoto of Katrina WymanOn March 2, Breaking the Logjam, a joint project between the NYU Law and New York Law School, issued a report concluding that an effective response to climate change requires revamping the Clean Air Act’s regulation of conventional pollutants. To prevent control of greenhouse gases from clashing with control of conventional air pollutants and to protect public health, the report recommends that Congress apply the market-based approach that underlies all the leading climate change bills to conventional pollutants.

“This integrated approach to climate change and pollution would improve health protection, save on costs, and prompt technological innovation, thus working with, rather than against new programs to stimulate the economy and bring on green technology,” said Richard Stewart, University Professor and John Edward Sexton Professor of Law. The project is jointly organized by Professor Stewart, Katrina Wyman, Professor of Law, and David Schoenbrod, Trustee Professor of Law at New York Law School.

Breaking the Logjam targets the failure of Congress to pass any major environmental statute since 1990. Last year, more than 40 environmental law experts from around the country met at the Law School in the first Breaking the Logjam conference to propose statutory and institutional changes, and their analysis is published in a special issue of the New York University Environmental Law Journal. Building upon this work, the project’s report makes five clusters of recommendations to Congress to break the environmental regulation logjam and to deal effectively with new and old environmental problems:

  • Climate Change and Air Pollution: Adopt a cap and trade program to cut greenhouse gases and simultaneously adopt a cap and trade program to control the most important conventional pollutants now regulated under the Clean Air Act.
  • Oceans: Adopt a system to zone the oceans in order to preserve ecologically valuable areas for future generations, recover declining fish populations, avoid conflicts, and make more sustainable use of the vast ocean resources under U.S. control.
  • Water, Lands, and Wildlife: Use market- and property right-like mechanisms, together with better targeting of existing regulatory resources, to reduce water pollution, improve the management of federally owned public lands, and protect endangered species and biodiversity.
  • Nuclear Waste: Adopt a comprehensive new approach to management and disposal of nuclear waste to address the failures of past policies and resolve a key issue in the debate over whether to expand nuclear energy.
  • Institutional Innovations: Strengthen legislative and administrative processes to promote smart and effective environmental protection.

The project team will brief Congress on its recommendations on March 9 and 10.

Posted March 2, 2009