First-generation pollution control laws are hardly ideal for fighting climate change, but they do offer worthy tools in the absence of GHG-specific legislation. The Obama administration has been signaling for some time that the Environmental Protection Agency will use its Clean Air Act authority to regulate GHGs (though incredibly, the U.S. Senate will soon vote on a measure that would block the EPA from enforcing the Clean Air Act to fight global warming).
Interestingly, the EPA is now considering using water law to fight ocean acidification — the other major climate change issue facing us. Following a law suit settlement reached with the plaintiff, the Center for Biological Diversity — that claimed the agency failed in recognizing the impacts of acidification on coastal waters — the EPA will consider how states can address ocean acidification under the Clean Water Act. Hopefully, the Clean Water Act’s water quality requirements could be applied in some sort of review of CO2 emissions sources to eventually find ways to reduce them.