Thursday, October 4, 2007

Carbon Future(s): A U.S. carbon-trading market could be lucrative—or perilous

From the Fulton County Daily Report:
(A Smart Read for Smart Readers)

RIGHT NOW, several bills quietly wending their way through Congress have the potential to change just about everything in the U.S., from how we run our businesses to how we run our lives.

For most people those bills and their tremendous implications are as invisible as the substance they seek not just to regulate but to monetize: carbon dioxide.

Modeled on Europe’s carbon cap-and-trade system, these bills—and there are at least nine of them, several sponsored by presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle—foreshadow a sea change in a new regulatory system that won’t just move markets. It will move the law and what lawyers do in ways that could be as profound as the impact of Superfund or the Clean Air Act.

It won’t just create work for environmental, energy trading and regulatory attorneys. It also will generate hours for those whose practices encompass business transactions and litigation, capital markets, project finance and even white-collar crime.

Already, it’s lining the pockets of lobbyists in the nation’s Capitol and the 17 states that are moving even faster than the federal government toward considering regulation and trading of greenhouse gases, implicated as a cause of global warming.

For climate-change skeptics and deniers, it’s no doubt a frustrating time to be watching the 110th Congress. But for businesspeople and lawyers—regardless of their views on whether the Earth is warming and why—it’s nothing short of the opportunity of the century.

“The saying in Washington is anytime there’s a new program, the lawyers are the ones who get rich first,” says Charles A. Patrizia, a Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker attorney who’s spent three decades inside the Beltway....MORE