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Environmtal Law Society
Ken Alex

Power Sector Carbon Reduction: Cap and Trade Design Choices

Richard Cowart
The Regulatory Assistance Project

Wed, Sept 28, 12:45-1:45pm
Boalt Hall, Faculty Lounge 336N

The tide is finally turning on global warming policy in the U.S. power sector. Despite a lack of progress at the national level, explicit programs to decrease GHG emissions from the utility sector are emerging from policy initiatives at the state and regional levels. Two important initiatives are now underway: A nine-state effort in the Northeast, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is close to designing a regional model rule, and an emerging West Coast program that could involve California, Washington, Oregon, and New Mexico.

One early lesson from these U.S. efforts and from the European Union's carbon trading system, is that cap-and-trade for carbon raises issues quite different from those built into the US Acid Rain program. This presentation will provide a quick update on the status of US state and regional carbon trading proposals, and an overview of some of the key design challenges -- e.g., who gets allowances, and on what basis? Can we avoid providing windfall gains to polluters due to higher energy clearing prices? How can cap-and-trade design explicitly reflect the value of efficiency and renewable energy, and use these resources to lower the cost of a less-polluting power sector? How can states lower their carbon contribution without simply substituting more-polluting resources from other states?

Speaker Biography:

Richard Cowart is a Director of The Regulatory Assistance Project, a nonprofit technical and policy institute that advises governmental decision-makers on energy and environmental issues. RAP has worked with officials in more than 45 US states, at the national level in the US, and in 16 other nations, including China, Brazil, Indonesia and India. Over the past 18 months, RAP has been a technical advisor to carbon reduction initiatives in the US Northeast and Eastern Canada, and the Pacific West.  

One of the nation’s most experienced regulatory commissioners, Mr. Cowart served as Commissioner and Chair of the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) for thirteen years under three Governors (1986-1999). He was elected President of the New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners, and Chair of the NARUC's national Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment. He also served for four years as Chair of the National Council on Competition and the Electric Industry, an association of state and federal officials and legislators responsible for power sector restructuring in the U.S.

Before his appointment to the Vermont PSB, Mr. Cowart was Assistant Professor and director of the program in Planning and Law at the University of California, Berkeley (1980-85), and Executive Officer and General Counsel of the Vermont Environmental Board (1978-80). He received his B.A. from Davidson College, and the J.D. and Master of City Planning degrees from UC Berkeley, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Ecology Law Quarterly (1976-77).

Mr. Cowart lives in Calais Vermont, where he manages a family Christmas tree farm and a timberland land trust.

Vegan/vegetarian lunch provided. Everyone is welcome!  


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