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Home Archive Current Volume Volume 63, Issue 5 Frostpaw Addressing Global Warming: Solving a Big Problem with Old Legal Tools and New Administrative Systems
Frostpaw Addressing Global Warming: Solving a Big Problem with Old Legal Tools and New Administrative Systems

By William J. Snape, III | 63 Am. U. L. Rev. 1587 (2014)

Climate change impacts the law on many levels and in many ways.  This Article asks a threshold question:  what legal structures will most effectively reduce growing levels of anthropogenic greenhouse pollution?  The answer is that an existing U.S. statute—the Clean Air Act—not only possesses clear commands to ratchet down greenhouse pollutants domestically, but also provides explicit authority to negotiate concomitant air pollution reduction with countries around the planet in a fair, transparent, and reciprocal fashion.  

Further, application of the Clean Air Act is consistent with other legal and policy tools to address global warming.  This statute-based solution, while facially simple, raises novel administrative law applications that link many local, regional, and national governments while simultaneously raising issues that go to the heart of current individual energy demand and consumption behaviors.  Overall, this proposal would demand science-based standards, complete public involvement in decisions, and flexibility on means to achieve pollution reduction goals.  Without such an effort, the misery index for humans and the rest of the natural world seems destined to rise precipitously.

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