The Destiny of Clean Energy: Legality of the EPA's Clean Power Plan with Respect to Emissions Trading

January 15, 2016

Cleaner energy is necessary to avoid significant health and climate risks in the future, and no energy is dirtier than our nation’s fossil-fuel burning power plants. The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) Clean Power Plan seeks to address the hazards posed by the electricity sector, and proposes carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions trading as an efficient, cost-effective option to do so. This Recent Development argues that the Clean Power Plan should be upheld with respect to emissions trading. First, a reasonable interpretation of section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) provides a legal basis for carbon dioxide emissions trading. Second, a thorough analysis of North Carolina’s legislative history provides an example of why carbon dioxide emissions trading is legal without authorization from state general assemblies. Further, emissions trading allows for easier Clean Power Plan compliance by power plants. The EPA should be granted the deference to set emissions trading as a valid compliance option.