Although some media outlets continue to address climate change (e.g., http://www.theonion.com/articles/greenhouse-gases-worse-than-worst-prediction,26564/), many of today’s headlines are dominated by stories about the economy, celebrity gossip, and political jockeying in advance of the November 2012 elections. The public discourse about U.S. climate change policy has waned even though the industry is acutely aware of the ever-increasing regulation of greenhouse gases (“GHGs”), e.g., GHG reduction plans are required for PSD air permits, new NSPS standards for the utility sector will address GHGs for the first time, and the State of California is less than two months away from implementation of cap and trade regulation for GHGs. See http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/cc.htm. Many companies are also actively engaged in furtherance of corporate strategies to achieve energy efficiency or improve their market position with customers or shareholders.
The lack of mainstream attention to climate change policy may soon change, however, because the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled oral argument for several overlapping climate change lawsuits (Case Nos. 09-1322, 10-1073, and No. 10-1092). Specifically, oral arguments are slated for February 28-29, 2012, which falls in the heart of the Republican primary/caucus season and roughly one week ahead of “Super Tuesday.” Since these “endangerment,” “tailoring,” and “tailpipe” cases form the jurisdictional basis for much of EPA’s ongoing regulation of GHGs under the Clean Air Act, the timing of these arguments (as well as the likely timing of the D.C. Circuit’s final decisions) could return domestic climate change policy to the center stage of our public debate.
That is, unless something else happens with the economy, natural disasters, terrorism, immigration, a college football playoff, the Kardashians, Justin Bieber ….