By Dustin Till, Associate, Marten Law Group PLLC
“With the fate of federal climate change legislation uncertain, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), and the Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (MGGRA) continue to collaborate on options for linking their emergent regional cap-and-trade programs,” writes Dustin Till. “These three programs, which account for over half of the United States' gross domestic product (GDP) and over 37 percent of the United States greenhouse gas emissions, are in various stages of development. The regional programs may continue to develop if federal climate legislation falters or if the regional programs are not preempted by a federal cap-and-trade program. In May 2010, RGGI, WCI, and MGRA published a white paper that recommends standardized guidelines for the use of emission offsets. If these concepts can be translated into a common set of concrete requirements for emission offsets, the resulting link between the three regional programs could begin to frame an alternative to a federal cap-and-trade program.”
“The various regional and proposed federal cap-and-trade programs call for incremental greenhouse gas emission reductions,” the author explains. “Entities that fall within the emission cap would be required to obtain emission allowances for each ton of greenhouse gases they emit (or is contained in the fuel they sell). Entities could demonstrate compliance by acquiring emission allowances from the government (either through auctions or allocations), or from other regulated entities via a secondary allowance market.”
“Twenty-three states and four Canadian provinces are participating in the regional cap-and-trade programs,” Dustin Till reports, “The programs, which are in varying stages of development, provide differing approaches to the use of offsets. Late last year, representatives from RGGI, WCI, and MGGRA met to discuss potentially linking the regional trading programs in the event that Congress is unable to pass comprehensive climate legislation.”
In May 2010, the regional programs issued a white paper providing recommendations for standardizing offset programs. Dustin Till analyzes the key offset quality concepts and key process requirements set forth in the white paper, and explains the importance of a standardized implementation approach.
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As a lawyer with the Marten Law Group, Dustin Till practices environmental and land use litigation with a special focus on climate change issues, permitting, and environmental review in the Pacific Northwest. Dustin represents clients in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska on a broad range of environmental matters, including permitting and energy infrastructure siting. Dustin shares his climate change expertise on behalf of Marten Law Group writing ongoing articles for Lexis Nexis’ Environmental Law and Climate Change Center. Dustin has appeared before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, federal district court and the Washington State Court of Appeals.