University of San Diego

San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law


As part of the University of San Diego Law School’s Second Annual Climate and Energy Law Symposium, we decided to review the enforcement provisions of the main federal greenhouse gas control options, with a view to drawing lessons from that review that could inform policy choices and program design. Our review suggests that there are relative strengths and weaknesses, as well important tradeoffs to be made, in the enforcement provisions of each of the leading candidate programs. Our review further suggests that some revisions should be made to these provisions to help ensure that the greenhouse gas control programs meet their environmental goals.

This paper is divided into three sections. Section I provides an overview of the main legislative and regulatory options being considered at the federal level to control greenhouse gases. These include cap-and-trade programs, carbon tax proposals, as well as existing authority under the Clean Air Act (“CAA”). In Section II, we compare these options from an enforcement perspective, considering regulatory complexity, monitoring, reporting and verification, the roles of states and of citizens, transparency in government, and penalties, in order to tease out the important differences among the options and draw lessons for program design and implementation. Section III summarizes our conclusions.