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Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change
mentation stage. For instance, although many of the major federal environmental statutes enacted in the 1970s have achieved significant environmental success, the record of implementation and enforcement of the statutes is frequently marred by delays and failures to enforce. Even today, for example, numerous areas of the country remain in violation of key provisions of the CAA. Similarly, widespread violations of the Clean Water Act have been reported to occur regularly across the country, and yet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state authorities have failed to take enforcement action against even egregious violators (Duhigg, 2009).
Given the need to move quickly to cut GHG emissions, special attention should be paid to ensuring that emissions-reduction policies are well implemented and properly enforced. Many programs have been significantly hampered in their implementation because the implementing agency lacks the appropriate level of staff necessary to carry out its responsibilities. This was likely the case in the early 1970s, when the EPA was tasked with simultaneously implementing a number of new and highly complex statutes. Similarly, the Department of Energy (DOE) appears to have been understaffed for years in the appliance efficiency standards program, leading to long delays in the issuance of updated standards (GAO, 2007). At a minimum, Congress should ensure that agencies have appropriate levels of staffing necessary to implement complex policies.
Staffing concerns also relate to the question of policy durability discussed above. In order to reduce the likelihood that policies are undermined by special interests or waning public attention, Congress could help buffer the policies from the annual appropriations process and ensure adequate funding levels by providing agencies with self-financing for staffing purposes (Lazarus, 2004). The agency administering cap-and-trade offsets, for instance, could be authorized to charge a fee to offset users in order to fund the staff needed for effectively overseeing offset administration.
It is worth noting that Congress has sometimes taken an even stronger approach when concerned that interest group opposition to regulatory activity might delay or obstruct action. For example, when Congress amended the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in 1984, it set statutory deadlines for the EPA to issue pretreatment standards for various categories of hazardous waste before the waste could be disposed of on land. The EPA had previously violated deadlines in issuing regulations, in part because of industry lawsuits. Congress was therefore wary of further delay and included this regulatory “hammer” provision to encourage industry to cooperate with the EPA in its development of standards in order to meet the statutory deadline. These