The Obama Administration has been moving aggressively to control greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act and other pre-existing statutory authority. Much of this new regulation was facilitated – if not mandated – by the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. These regulatory initiatives mark a dramatic expansion of federal environmental controls on private economic activity. These efforts are unwise. Regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, in particular, will impose substantial regulatory costs for minimal environmental gain. Extensive GHG regulation will not produce much actual climate change mitigation. Mitigating the threat of anthropogenic climate change requires an alternative approach – one that is not authorized under existing law and that does not require dramatic expansions of the federal regulatory state. This article, prepared for a symposium issue of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, surveys and analyses the Obama Administrations greenhouse gas regulatory initiatives, and suggests an alternative approach to climate change policy.


climate change, greenhouse gases, global warming, Clean Air Act, Obama Administration

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy

Publication Information

34 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 421 (2011)


COinS Jonathan H. Adler Faculty Bio