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Fictional Credits or Progressive Action? Seattle Utility's Greenhouse Gas Offset Program Goes to Court

May 2006

Citation: ELR 10370

Author: Laura H. Kosloff, Slayde Hawkins

Editor's Summary: Several cities have developed innovative initiatives to combat global warming in the absence of concerted federal regulatory action. One such city is Seattle, Washington. In April 2000, the city directed its municipal utility, Seattle City Light, to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions through efficiency, renewable energy, and offsets. In July 2001, City Light became the first U.S. utility to commit to reaching zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Yet this program has not come without its challenges. In this Article, Laura Kosloff and Slayde Hawkins examine City Light's program and the litigation that followed in hopes of providing lessons for other municipalities seeking to address climate change.

Laura Kosloff is Vice President and General Counsel of Trexler Climate + Energy Services, Inc. (TC+ES). She has worked on climate change legal and policy developments since 1992. She oversees TC+ES's negotiations and contracting for carbon offset projects, and has developed legal agreements among private parties, governmental agencies, and nongovernmental organizations addressing legal issues associated with the longterm reliability of offset projects. Slayde Hawkins has been a Research Intern at TC+ES since February 2005. She graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 2004 and will start law school in fall 2006.

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