Regulatory Pause

Regulatory Pause Laser Talk

Question:  Should greenhouse gas regulations be exchanged for a carbon fee?

Answer:  This question has been debated extensively. The earliest carbon fee and dividend bills did limit the EPA’s ability to enforce certain regulations on greenhouse gases (GHGs ) under the Clean Air Act, but those limitations were absent from most bills that were introduced in the 117th Congress. [1,2,3]

The only regulations in question were for GHGs from large stationary sources, primarily those embodied in the Clean Power Plan. [4,5,6] There is strong evidence from economic literature that a robust carbon fee and dividend policy would reduce those emissions more efficiently than existing or proposed regulations, [7] and that such regulations would be largely redundant.

Initially, regulatory limitations had been proposed largely to attract conservative support. However, with the repeal of Clean Power Plan regulations in 2019, [8] regulatory pauses became essentially moot. Another point is that some influential organizations strongly objected to any modification of the Clean Air Act, regardless of how narrow it might have been. Given these considerations and the rapidly changing political circumstances around climate policy starting in 2019, a regulatory pause could no longer be justified.

In a Nutshell: Various carbon fee and dividend bills have offered to suspend the enforcement of certain EPA regulations on greenhouse gases in order to broaden support. However, changing political circumstances have resulted in the removal of regulatory pauses from most of these proposals starting in 2019.

  1. “H.R.2307 – Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2021.” Library of Congress (01 Apr 2021).
  2. “H.R.2451 – America’s Clean Future Fund Act.” Library of Congress (13 Apr 2021).
  3. “S.2085 – Save Our Future Act.” Library of Congress (16 Jun 2021).
  4. “FACT SHEET: Overview of the Clean Power Plan.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (snapshot) (19 Jan 2017).
  5. “Regulation Database – New Source Performance Standards for GHG Emissions from Electric Generating Units.” Columbia Law School Sabin Center for Climate Change Law (accessed 30 Apr 2021).
  6. “PSD and Title V Permitting Guidance for Greenhouse Gases.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air and Radiation (Mar 2011).
  7. Rosetti, P., D Bosch, and D. Goldbeck. “Comparing Effectiveness of Climate Regulations and a Carbon Tax.” American Action Forum (2 Jul 2018).
  8. “Affordable Clean Energy Rule.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (19 Jun 2019).

This page was last updated on 12/28/21 at 13:54 CST.