The Boundaries of Executive Authority: An Evaluation of Priority Proposals from the Presidential Climate Action Plan

July 2008 – A Report by the Center for Energy & Environmental Security Produced for the Presidential Climate Action Project


This report is a follow-up to a previous report issued by the Center for Energy and Environmental Security (CEES) in February 2008, The Boundaries of Executive Authority: Using Executive Orders to Implement Federal Climate Change Policy. In that report we summarized and brought together in one place the most applicable guidance on the legal boundaries of executive authority, with a focus on the use of executive orders to implement appropriate provisions of the Presidential Climate Action Plan. The Presidential Climate Action Plan, developed by the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP), is a comprehensive action plan to address climate change nationally and is the result of combined expertise of respected groups and individuals from around the country who are from science, policy, legal and other backgrounds.

The PCAP Report transforms policies into action items that can be taken at the federal level by, for example, Congress or the President to address climate change. PCAP has identified specific action items from their national plan as priorities which we will refer to as proposals. These serve as examples of the actions the next President can take to address climate change. In this report, CEES evaluates implementation of each of these priority proposals by executive order or other executive directive by identifying the relevant legal authority or authorities that are applicable to each specific proposal, analyzing these authorities, and then evaluating each proposal in terms of implementation by executive directive based on an assessment of a number of factors which are described below.

The Boundaries Report delineates the authority of the President to use executive directives in general terms and also addresses topics of special interest to climate action policy, such as regulating greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act and supporting climate mitigation through federal procurement. The legal analysis included in the Boundaries Report will be referenced where applicable but not repeated in this report. The two reports should be considered together as companion reports.


Read full report here: The Boundaries of Executive Authority: An Evaluation of Priority Proposals from the Presidential Climate Action Plan