Marten Law: Responding to Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Three Questions for Companies in the Electric Power Sector

Marten Law: Responding to Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Three Questions for Companies in the Electric Power Sector

   By Adam D. Orford, Associate, Marten Law Group PLLC

“If your company generates, transmits or sells electricity, you are thinking about climate change regulation. Coming greenhouse (GHG) emissions restrictions—whether imposed by regulation or legislation—will profoundly affect fossil generation,” writes Adam Orford. “The rising renewables sector must continue to press its climate-related advantages to remain competitive—and overcome the infrastructure problems that have been exacerbated by increasing the renewable share of total generation. Nuclear power may seize the opportunity to shake off 30 years of stagnation. Meanwhile, the nation's demand for energy is projected only to increase, and the task of meeting that demand—producing the energy, moving it across the country, and marketing it to consumers—must continue while responding to the rising tide of climate-related regulation.”

To address these issues, this article poses three questions meant to highlight what is certain—and what is not—about the impact of climate-related regulation on the energy industry. Perhaps counterintuitively, the first question involves the consequences of inaction. That question is – ‘What If Federal Climate Legislation Doesn't Pass?’

Adam Orford analyzes the future landscape if federal legislation is not enacted, including an examination of incremental federal change through the EPA and the proliferating state standards that are being developed. He then examines what the consequences may be if federal climate legislation is enacted in the near future. The author also answers the question as to what greenhouse gas requirements will be unaffected by the passage of any federal legislation.

“Meeting the country's steadily rising demand for electricity is a monumental task. The electric power industry has been and will continue to be equal to that task, in compliance with environmental regulations,” the author notes. “The unique challenges posed by climate change have led to new regulatory requirements and a rethinking of old ones, and much change is yet to come. When it does, the electric power sector will be ready.”

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Adam Orford, an associate with Marten Law Group PLLC, earned his J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Stone Scholar, and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law.

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