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Despite Faltering Economy, Climate Change Likely to Remain Front Burner Issue in 2009

HOUSTON, December 3, 2008 -- President-Elect Obama will likely keep climate change a high-priority issue, possibly addressing certain aspects as part of a “green economy” stimulus package, including incentives for infrastructure and manufacturing and renewable energy mandates, climate change lawyers for Baker Botts L.L.P. told reporters in Houston today.

Longer term strategies an Obama administration could pursue include promoting legislation to create a carbon cap-and-trade market, for which near-term efforts may be aggressive given current economic conditions and therefore are not likely to be successful this year, they added.

Hosting the media briefing in Houston were Baker Botts lawyers Bill Bumpers, Matt Kuryla and Steve McMillen. Bumpers heads the firm’s global climate change practice group and is based in Washington, D.C. Kuryla is a partner in the firm’s Houston office. McMillen is a special counsel in the firm’s Austin office.

Bumpers noted that Secretary of State-Designate Hillary Clinton will face a tough challenge to broker a U.S. leadership role in charting a course for international climate action when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

“Despite the U.S.’s previous sideline position, Clinton’s task will be to determine the commitments the U.S. can make within the broader international arena,” Bumpers said. “The U.S. will likely try to structure an agreement that by 2020 the U.S. will have caught up with the European and Japanese 2012 commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.”

U.S. Senator John Kerry’s and representatives of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s presence at the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Poland (December 1 -12) sends a signal that Obama will take climate change seriously and that the United States will take a more active role in the global community on this issue.

Also in 2009, the U.S. EPA, under Obama, will be working to complete proposed greenhouse gas reporting rules and will likely issue an endangerment determination as directed by the U.S. Supreme Court in its April 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision. EPA’s issuance of an endangerment determination could have far-reaching implications on new facilities permitting, Bumpers said.

With respect to Texas, they added that Texas is a leader in renewables development and incentives for further renewables development, electricity transmission infrastructure, and energy efficiency measures will likely be key issues in the upcoming legislative session.

About Baker Botts L.L.P.
Baker Botts L.L.P., dating from 1840, is a leading international law firm with offices in Austin, Beijing, Dallas, Dubai, Hong Kong, Houston, London, Moscow, New York, Palo Alto (California), Riyadh and Washington. With approximately 800 lawyers, Baker Botts provides a full range of legal services to international, national and regional clients. For more information, please visit

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