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Climate Change30 Years of U.S. Climate Policy

30 Years of U.S. Climate Policy

30 Years of U.S. Climate Policy

Here’s a timeline of the victories and defeats since 1992.

Thirty years ago, the USA joined the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The a long time since then have been a saga of victories and defeats for U.S. climate policy.  Progress has been made under one President, only to be battered down by the subsequent one. This to-and-fro is a sobering reminder of how much elections matter.

However the rollbacks have never been complete.  EPA’s power to manage greenhouse gases, established in litigation in 2007, now seems beyond query.  Emissions standards for brand new cars temporarily stalled under Trump but are nonetheless much tighter than they were before Obama. The U.S. stays a celebration to the UNFCCC , helped broker the Paris Agreement, and is until a celebration to that agreement today.  Perhaps most significantly, the federal government has invested billions of dollars in clean energy.

Here’s a timeline of a few of the most important events:

1992    President George H.W. Bush signs and U.S. Senate ratifies the UNFCC treaty.

1997    Senate passes resolution that U.S. shouldn’t enter into any climate agreement that fails to limit emissions from developing countries.

1998    U.S. signs (but never ratifies) Kyoto Agreement.

2005    Congress passes first tax credit for solar.

2007    Supreme Court decides Massachusetts v. EPA.

EPA approves California mandate for zero emission vehicles.

Bush EPA denies waiver to permit California to manage CO2 emissions from latest cars.

2009    EPA formally finds that greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health and welfare.

House of Representatives passes major climate laws, the Waxman-Markey climate bill, which dies within the Senate.

Obama helps negotiate Copenhagen Accord.

Obama stimulus bill provides $90 billion for renewables.

EPA approves waiver for California to manage CO2 from latest cars.

2011    Supreme Court decides AEP case, barring lawsuits against carbon emitters using the  federal common law of nuisance.

2012    EPA adopts regulation limiting carbon emissions for brand new cars.

2014    Supreme Court decides UARG v. EPA, striking one a part of an EPA permitting program  covering carbon emissions from latest pollution source, but upholding many of the program.

2015   Paris Agreement adopted with strong U.S. advocacy.

Clean Power Plan issued, then stayed by Supreme Court.

2017    Trump pronounces U.S. withdrawal from Paris Agreement.

2019    Trump EPA revokes California’s waiver for regulating CO2 from latest cars.

Trump EPA issues Inexpensive Clean Energy rule, repeals Clean Power Plan.

2020    U.S. withdraws from Paris Agreement (Trump).

Trump EPA blocks scheduled tightening of  CO2 emissions standards for brand new cars

2021    Biden signs infrastructure bill with roughly $100 billion for electrical grid buildout, public transportation, and clean energy.

U.S. rejoins Paris Agreement (Biden).

D.C. Circuit vacates Inexpensive Clean Energy rule.

2022    EPA issues tough latest standards for carbon emissions from latest vehicles.

Supreme Court decides West Virginia v. EPA, striking down Clean Power Plan.

EPA restores California waiver to manage latest cars.

Congress enacts Inflation Reduction Act, providing greater than $300 billion in funding to scrub energy.

The story of policy on the state level is rosier, with California leading the best way within the Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s, but increasingly joined by other states.  Even many GOP controlled states have embraced renewable energy, though they still prefer to avoid any mention of climate change. There’s been so much less of the backsliding we’ve seen on the federal level and more durable progress.

Motion by states, even when joined by the private sector, is rarely going to be enough. We want the energetic support of the federal government. You’ve gotten to admire the climate advocates in Washington who get repeatedly smashed down but at all times get to their feet again to proceed the fight.

Biden Administration, climate change. climate politics, Climate Politics, Environmental History, Federal Climate Policy, Obama Administration, Supreme Court climate cases, Trump Administration


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