Carbon & Courts

Carbon & Courts I: Atmospheric Trust

Phil Gregory, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy
Pete McCloskey, Former Congressman
David Takacs, Associate Professor, UC Hastings College of the Law

Backed by high-powered plaintiff’s attorneys, a group of youths is suing the federal government, claiming it has failed to protect the Earth’s atmosphere as a public trust to be preserved for future generations. The public trust doctrine is well established for resources such as water but has never been applied to the atmosphere. Can supporters of clean energy make gains in the courts that have been hard to come by in the legislative and executive branches? Is this a potential game changer, or merely a flash in the pan? Supporters of atmospheric trust litigation, including climate scientist James Hansen, say judges are more likely than politicians to do the right thing. But California officials say the suit, which was filed in all 50 states, is a distraction and will hinder the state’s pioneering efforts to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy. Who’s right? Join us for a conversation about the legal frontier of climate and the law.
Time: 10-11 a.m. program

Carbon & Courts II: Cap and Trade: Fixable or Fatally Flawed?

Edie Chang, Office of Climate Change, California Air Resources Board
Brent Newell, General Counsel, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment
Bill Gallegos, Executive Director, Communities for a Better Environment
Kristin Eberhard, Legal Director, Western Energy and Climate Projects, Natural Resources Defense Council 

Legal wrangling over California’s cap and trade program has cast a cloud over the state’s pioneering plan to put a price on carbon pollution. A lawsuit claiming the plan unfairly hits disadvantaged communities won an court injunction in March, and in June an appellate court decided work on the program can continue pending an appeal. Air regulators then pushed back the start of carbon trading one year to 2013. While cap and trade is challenged by the political Left, proponents are bracing for another direction by energy providers. The state has invested tremendous resources in cap and trade and says the market-based approach is the most efficient way to wring carbon out of the economy. Environmental justice advocates say it needs to be improved so pollution is not concentrated further in communities already living with dirty power plants and refineries. What’s the right way forward? Join us for a conversation about the good, the bad and the ugly of cap and trade.
Time: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. program

Location: SF Club Office
Cost: $25 standard, $15 members, $7 students (with valid ID). Includes all morning sessions.