Georgetown Law


The Georgetown Climate Center tracks federal climate and energy regulation that affects U.S. states. The Center also seeks to improve communication and coordination between states and federal agencies.

Currently, the Center is providing analysis and assistance to states and federal agencies in the wake of the EPA's endangerment finding and recent court rulings that call upon the federal government to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

From Inside EPA (subscription only):
In a Feb. 23 letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), environmental officials from the nine states argue a “resolution of disapproval” introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that would invalidate EPA’s endangerment finding would also prevent the federal program for vehicle GHG standards from being finalized. Joining California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols on the letter are the heads of the environmental departments in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island.

“As you know, under this program, EPA proposed federal GHG standards for vehicles that will be roughly equivalent to both the federal corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards and the GHG standards pioneered by California and adopted by 13 other states and the District of Columbia,” the letter states. “The existence of comparable federal GHG standards, in turn, would allow our states to accept compliance with the federal program as demonstrating compliance with the California program.”

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News and Updates

On June 19, federal agencies proposed new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that are projected to improve tractor trailer fuel economy by as much as 24% in 2027. This second round of truck standards, proposed jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), will apply to new combination tractors and trailers, heavy-duty trucks, and vocational vehicles for model years (MY) 2019 through 2027.

The proposed standards build upon a previous round of fuel economy and GHG standards that the agencies released in 2011 for MY 2014-2018 vehicles. These previous standards...

The Obama Administration recently announced a goal to reduce oil- and gas-sector methane emissions 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025 and a series of actions to achieve the goal. These actions include new EPA standards to reduce emissions from new and modified oil and gas production sources, standards to reduce emissions on public lands and in natural gas pipelines, and further federal action to encourage volunteer measures by the industry.

Methane emissions account for approximately 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and 30 percent of methane emissions come from the oil and gas sector in production,...

In a late-session decision, the U.S. Supreme Court partially upheld Environmental Protection Agency permitting rules that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large stationary sources of pollution, leaving most of the agency's air pollution reduction program in place.

The Court held 7-2 that EPA is allowed to require limits on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from newly constructed or modified power plants or other large sources under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program for sources that are already subject to the program because they are major emitters of other air pollutants.  These types of sources—referred to as “anyway” sources—make up 83 percent of national stationary source GHG emissions.

A separate...

In a letter to the EPA today, state environment and energy leaders from 15 states—including midwest and mountain states like Minnesota, Illinois, and Colorado—urged the federal agency to allow states to use their broad clean energy and climate approaches to meet upcoming carbon pollution reduction requirements. 

The group encouraged the federal government to move forward with standards that will achieve significant emission reductions and suggested that their success in using diverse clean energy policies points the way to achieving the new standards in a cost effective way.  They also encouraged the...

The Georgetown Climate Center hosted a discussion October 28 among senior state, power company, and federal leaders about the development of carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.

The federal government is currently seeking input on potential paths forward as it develops standards under the Clean Air Act Sec. 111(d).  The Obama Administration has indicated it wants to build on the experiences of states and power companies, many of which are already achieving significant carbon pollution reductions.  The administration has also indicated it wants to provide states with flexibility in meeting the upcoming standards.


On September 20 the EPA proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) performance standards for new fossil fuel-fired power plants.

The proposed standards represent an important component of President Barack Obama’s climate action plan. GHG emissions from the power sector account for approximately 40 percent of total U.S. emissions, and represent the single largest category of emissions.

The proposal requires new natural gas- and coal-fired power plants to meet specific carbon pollution emission standards in the range of 1,000 to 1,100 pounds of...

With the Obama Administration's proposed carbon pollution limits for new power plants announced, additional focus and attention will soon be placed on how the administration intends to work with states and power companies to put forth carbon pollution limits for existing power plants as well.

The Georgetown Climate Center has been working with states and other stakeholders to understand how standards for existing sources can build on current state clean energy and greenhouse gas programs that are already reducing carbon pollution and providing economic and health benefits to states.  Through these conversations, the Georgetown Climate Center...