The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions seeks to inform the design and implementation of federal policies that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Drawing from its extensive peer-reviewed published works, in-house policy analyses, and tracking of current legislative proposals, the Center provides research, analysis, and recommendations to policymakers in Congress and the Executive Branch. Read More
|C2ES President Bob Perciasepe moderates a Solutions Forum panel with (l to r): Martha Rudolph, Director of Environmental Programs, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment; David Paylor, Director, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality; and Janet Coit, Director, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.|
States will have tremendous flexibility to choose how to reduce their carbon emissions under the Clean Power Plan, and one idea they should explore is putting a price on carbon.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) recently brought together legal and economic experts, state environmental directors, and business leaders to explore the potential to use market mechanisms to reduce these damaging emissions efficiently and cost-effectively.
Here are three key insights from this Solutions Forum:
Market Mechanisms: Understanding the OptionsApril 2015
Climate change poses a significant risk for a broad range of human and natural systems. Policies to reduce emissions are critical if we are to avoid the most costly damages associated with a rapidly changing climate. Compared to traditional command-and-control regulations, market-based policies can more cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by creating financial incentives for GHG emitters to emit less. Ten U.S. states and many jurisdictions outside the United States have established market-based programs to reduce GHGs. Market-based policies would be among the options available to states to reduce GHGs from power plants under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan. This brief describes the theory behind market-based approaches; their success in cost-effectively reducing GHGs and other emissions; and a range of market-based options, including: a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade program, a baseline and credit program, a clean or renewable electricity standard, and an energy efficiency resource standard.
As the country’s largest landlord, fleet operator, and purchaser of goods and services, the federal government can lead by example in moving the country toward a more sustainable future.
Taking that opportunity, the Obama Administration recently issued a new executive order, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, that builds on energy-saving advances and ups the targets for federal agencies to do even more. Joining in the commitment to cleaner energy and energy efficiency were 14 companies that are major federal suppliers.
A 2009 executive order set a target of reducing federal greenhouse gas emissions 28 percent below 2008 levels by 2020. The March 2015 executive order raises the bar – to 40 percent below 2008 levels by 2025. The goal is expected to save taxpayers up to $18 billion in avoided energy costs.
The order also directs federal agencies to:
- Increase the use of renewable energy sources to 30 percent of total consumption by 2025,
- Reduce per-mile greenhouse gas emissions from federal fleets 30 percent by 2025 and ensure a fifth of the fleet is made up of zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2025, and
- Reduce the amount of water used in federal buildings 20 percent below 2007 levels by 2025.
Complementing the new executive order, 14 large federal suppliers committed to new or expanded emission pledges that would cumulatively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5 million metric tons by 2020. Several members of the C2ES Business Environmental Leadership Council made commitments:
- IBM will reduce its energy-related carbon dioxide emissions 35 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and buy 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by that year.
- GE will invest $25 billion in research and development in energy efficiency and clean energy and reduce water use and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below a 2011 baseline by 2020.
- HP will reduce the emissions intensity of its product portfolio 40 percent by 2020 from a 2010 baseline.
Taken together, the new executive order and the voluntary commitments from federal suppliers will reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26 million metric tons below 2008 levels by 2025, according to White House estimates.
Figure: Fiscal Year 2013 Federal Government Direct Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Category
Federal direct greenhouse gas emissions totaled nearly 45 million metric tons of CO2e in Fiscal Year 2013. Over 60 percent of emissions are from purchased electricity. Transportation emissions include those from passenger fleet vehicle, vehicles, aircraft, ships, and related equipment.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy (2014), "Comprehensive Annual Energy Data and Sustainability Performance"
A number of analysts have raised concerns that the proposed Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing power plant carbon emissions, could threaten the reliability of electric power. But a closer look at the U.S. power system and the safeguards in place suggests that these reliability issues are manageable. The greater threat to reliability, in fact, is the rising incidence of extreme weather driven by climate change.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), which is overseen by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and government authorities in Canada, is responsible for keeping our power system reliable. NERC develops reliability standards and assesses the power system to anticipate and minimize the risk of disruption. It was established after a 1965 multi-hour Northeast blackout. Since then, the U.S. population has increased by 65 percent and power generation is more than 3.5 times greater with only one comparable blackout, in 2003.
Last fall, NERC issued an initial report identifying reliability issues under the Clean Power Plan that required further investigation. NERC and other analysts have questioned whether our natural gas system can handle more demand if more power plants switch from coal to natural gas. NERC also questioned how the power system will respond to less 24/7 baseload coal generation and more intermittent renewable generation.
Since the NERC report was issued, the Department of Energy, The Analysis Group and the Brattle Group have offered analyses that suggest power plant emissions can be reduced under the Clean Power Plan without compromising system reliability.
H.R.259: Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act
This bill would repeal credits for many renewable energy initiatives, as well as any credit for carbon dioxide sequestration (CCS). Specifically related to CCS, it would apply to any carbon captured after December 21, 2014. Sponsor: Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) (introduced 2/13/2015).
S.601: ACCTION Act of 2015
This bill would require the Secretary of Energy to carry out a program to demonstrate the integration of systems for the capture, transportation, and injection of carbon dioxide from industrial source for long-term geological storage or enhanced oil recovery at commercial scale. Sponsor: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) (introduced 2/26/2015).
S.AMDT.99: Would amend S.AMDT.2 to S.1. This amendment articulates a sense of Congress that Congress is in agreement with the scientific community, national security experts, and others, that climate change is real, climate change is caused by human activity, and that it is imperative that the United States invests in research and development for clean fossil fuel technology. Sponsor: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) (introduced 1/22/2015). Action: 1/22/2015 Agreed in the Senate 53-46 to table the amendment.
H.R.70: Deficit Reduction, Job Creation, and Energy Security Act
This bill would establish various grants, including a National Grant Program for Coastal and Ocean Sustainability and Health. It would direct funds to be used for coastal management planning and implementation mitigation, restoration, protection, and relocation of coastal communities threatened by the impacts of climate change. Sponsor: Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) (introduced 1/6/2015).
H.R.258: Half in Ten Act of 2015
Of relevance, the bill articulates a Congressional finding that individuals and families in poverty are more socially vulnerable to natural disasters, extreme weather and impacts of climate change and have greater difficulty preparing for, responding to and recovering from such events. Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) (introduced 1/9/15).
H.R.291: Water in the 21st Century Act
Of relevance, this bill would create a grant program within EPA for local owners or operators of water systems to address any ongoing or forecasted climate-related impacts on the water quality of quantity of a region, for the purposes of mitigating or adapting to the impacts of climate change. Sponsor: Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) (introduced 1/13/2015). Related Bill(s): S.176.
H.R.761: Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Act
Of relevance, the bill would require that plans to manage and conserve the land also assess the impacts of climate change on the conservation area. Sponsor: Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) (introduced 2/5/2015). Related Bill(s): S.393.
H.R.996: Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act
This bill would designate specified National Forest System lands, National Park System lands, and public lands in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming as wilderness and as components or additions to existing components of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Of particular note, this bill would establish a federal program to protect, restore, and conserve natural resources in response to the impacts of climate change. Sponsor: Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) (introduced 2/13/15).
H.R.1175: Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act of 2015
This bill would require the Secretary of Commerce to establish a Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Fund, to be administered through the International Trade Administration. It also would require the Secretary to administer the Fund to promote policies that would reduce production costs and encourage innovation, investment, and productivity in the clean energy technology sector, and implement a national clean energy technology export strategy. Clean energy technologies would be defined as those related to the production, use, transmission, storage, control, or conservation of energy that aim to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Sponsor: Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) (introduced 2/27/2015).
H.R.1275: Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act
This bill would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a national strategic action plan to assist health professionals in preparing for and responding to the public health effects of climate change. Sponsor: Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) (introduced 3/4/2015).
H.R.1276: Coastal State Climate Change Planning Act
This bill would amend the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 to direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish a coastal climate change adaptation planning and response program. This program would provide assistance to coastal states to voluntarily develop coastal climate change adaptation plans. It also would provide financial and technical assistance and training for such plans and authorizes the Secretary to make grants to develop and support projects that implement strategies contained in such plans. Sponsor: Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) (introduced 3/4/2015).
H.R.1278: Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act of 2015
This bill would require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to: (1) establish the Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Program. The Program would provide grants to owners or operators of water systems to increase the resiliency or adaptability of the systems to any ongoing or forecasted changes to the hydrologic conditions of a U.S. region, and (2) give priority to owners or operators of water systems that are at the greatest and most immediate risk of facing significant negative impacts due to changing hydrologic conditions. Grant funds used to improve existing water systems would have to be used in a manner that would not further increase net greenhouse gas emissions. Sponsor: Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) (introduced 3/4/2015).
H.R.1464: Inclusive Prosperity Act of 2013
This bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to impose certain taxes and to provide tax credits for certain secured transactions. Of relevance, the bill articulates a congressional finding that extreme weather events rooted in climate change, including flood, drought, fire, super storms like Sandy, as well as `slow-onset' events like sea level rise, are wreaking havoc in the United States and across the globe resulting in climate change impacts that jeopardize the lives and livelihoods of Americans, causing large-scale food and energy insecurity in developing countries, and extolling untold economic costs. Sponsor: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) (introduced 3/19/2015).
H.RES.142: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that in order to better understand water availability, sustainability, and security at a national scale, the United States should prioritize the assessment of the quality and quantity of surface water and groundwater resources, and produce a national water census with the same sense of urgency that was incorporated in the "Man on the Moon" project to address the inevitable challenges of "Peak Water"
Of relevance, this bill would expressly recognize that water consumption is made more challenging by the compounding effects of climate change, and water resources are being depleted due to increased demand coupled with changes in hydrologic and climate patterns. Sponsor: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) (introduced 3/4/2015).
S.176: Water in the 21st Century Act
Of relevance, this bill would create a grant program within EPA for local owners or operators of water systems to address any ongoing or forecasted climate-related impacts on the water quality of quantity of a region, for the purposes of mitigating or adapting to the impacts of climate change. Sponsor: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (introduced 1/13/2015). Related Bill(s): H.R.291.
S.393: Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Act
Of relevance, the bill would require that plans to manage and conserve the land also assess the impacts of climate change on the conservation area. Sponsor: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (introduced 2/5/2015). Related Bill(s): H.R.761.
S.414: California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2015
Of relevance, the bill would require that plans to manage and conserve the land also assess the impacts of climate change on the conservation area. Sponsor: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (introduced 2/9/2015).
S.741: Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act of 2015
This bill would require the EPA to establish a program of awarding grants to owners or operators of water systems to increase their resilience. Of particular relevance, water systems for communities and agriculture production to improve water supply reliability, storage, should not result in a net increase of greenhouse gas emissions. Sponsor: Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) (introduced 3/16/2015).
S.AMDT.115: Would amend S.AMDT.2 to S.1. Of relevance, this amendment articulates a sense of Congress that climate change is already affecting critical U.S. infrastructure, the federal government has a crucial role to play in partnering with states, localities, and tribal jurisdictions to help ensure coordinated efforts to keep communities resilient, and federal agencies should quantify the economic value of the physical risks from climate change. Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE) (introduced 1/22/2015). Action: 1/28/2015 Failed in the Senate 47-51.
S.AMDT.174: Would amend S.AMDT.2 to S.1. This amendment articulates a sense of Congress that the United States should prioritize and fund adaptation projects in vulnerable communities in the United States while also helping to fund climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. Sponsor: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) (introduced 1/26/2015).
H.R.1961: To authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to establish a Climate Change Education Program
This bill would authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to establish a Climate Change Education Program to educate the public about the science and impacts of climate change. Sponsor: Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) (introduced 4/22/2015).
H.Res.67: Expressing support for designation of February 12, 2015, as "Darwin Day" and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity
Of relevance, this bill would recognize that the advancement of science must be protected from those unconcerned with the adverse impacts of global warming and climate change. Sponsor: Rep. James Himes (D-CT) (introduced 2/2/2015). Related Bill(s): S.Res.66.
S.Res.66: Expressing support for designation of February 12, 2015, as "Darwin Day" and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity
Of relevance, this bill would recognize that the advancement of science must be protected from those unconcerned with the adverse impacts of global warming and climate change. Sponsor: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) (introduced 2/4/2015). Related Bill(s): H.Res.67.
S.AMDT.24: Would amend S.AMDT.2 to S.1. This amendment articulate a sense of Congress that climate change is real. Sponsor: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (introduced 1/13/2015). Action: 1/21/2015 Agreed in the Senate 56-42 to table the amendment.
S.AMDT.29: Would amend S.AMDT.2 to S.1. This amendment articulates a sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax. During floor debate of the amendment, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said he would co-sponsor the amendment, and said that the climate is changing, climate change is a hoax among some people are arrogant enough to think humans are powerful enough to change the climate, and that man cannot change the climate. Sen. Inhofe asked fellow Republicans to vote for the amendment. Sponsor: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) (introduced 1/13/2015). Action: 1/21/2015 Agreed in the Senate 98-1.
S.AMDT.58: Would amend S.AMDT.2 to S.1. This amendment articulates a sense of Congress that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to climate change. Sponsor: Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) (introduced 1/20/2015). Action: 1/21/2015 Failed in the Senate 50-49.
S.AMDT.87: Would amend S.AMDT.2 to S.1. This amendment articulates a sense of Congress that the Keystone XL pipeline will produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than alternative methods such as rail, approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction of oil sands or the use of heavy crude oil at U.S. refineries, and that climate change is real and human activity contributes to climate change. Sponsor: Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) (introduced 1/21/2015). Action: 1/21/2015 Failed in the Senate 59-40.
S.AMDT.777: Would amend S.Con.Res.11. This amendment would establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to recognize that climate change is real and caused by human activity and that Congress needs to take action to cut carbon pollution. Sponsor: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (introduced 3/25/2015). Action: 3/25/2015 Failed in the Senate 49-50.
S.AMDT.1014: Would amend S.Con.Res.11. This amendment would establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to responding to the economic and national security threats posed by human-induced climate change. Sponsor: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) (introduced 3/26/2015). Action: 3/26/2015 Agreed in the Senate 53-47.
S.AMDT.944: Would amend S.Con.Res.11. This amendment would create a point of order against under tax dollars to censor publicly funded climate science. Sponsor: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) (introduced 3/25/2015). Action: 3/26/2015 Agreed in the Senate 51-49, but amendment ruled out of order by the chair.
H.R.348: RAPID Act
Of relevance, this bill would prohibit agencies from using the social cost of carbon in any environmental review or environmental decision-making process. Sponsor: Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) (introduced 1/14/2015).
H.R.1487: American Energy Renaissance Act of 2015
Of relevance, this bill articulates a congressional finding that EPA exceeded its regulatory authority by promulgating greenhouse gas regulations. The bill would amend the Clean Air Act to exclude greenhouse gases from the definition of an “air pollutant,” and would repeal the current rulemaking for carbon pollution standards for power plants. Sponsor: Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) (introduced 3/19/2015). Related Bill(s): S.791.
H.R.2042: To allow for judicial review of any final rule addressing carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric utility generating units before requiring compliance with such rule, and to allow States to protect households and businesses from significant adverse effects on electricity ratepayers or reliability
This bill would require judicial review of EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, and would allow state governors to forgo the rule if it has a significant adverse effect on electricity ratepayers or reliability. Sponsor: Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) (introduced 4/28/2015).
H.CON.RES.27: Establishing the budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2016 and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2017 through 2025.
Of relevance, this resolution articulates a policy statement that EPA greenhouse gas regulations for power plants are primarily targeted at the coal industry, and these proposed standards are unachievable with current commercially available technology, resulting in a de facto ban on new coal-fired power plants. In addition, the resolution articulates a policy statement that a carbon tax would damage the U.S. economy, cost jobs, and raise prices on American consumers. Sponsor: Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) (introduced 3/20/2015). Related Bill(s): S.Con.Res.11.
S.156: Energy Consumers Relief Act of 2015
Of relevance, the bill would prohibit the use of the social cost of carbon (i.e., any estimate that monetizes the damages associated with an incremental increase in carbon dioxide emissions in an given year) in the cost-benefit analysis of energy-related regulations with an estimated cost greater than $1 billion until a law is enacted authorizing such use. Sponsor: Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) (introduced 1/13/2015).
S.639: A bill to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to include in any proposed rule that limits greenhouse gas emissions and imposes increased costs on other Federal agencies an offset from funds available to the Administrator for all projected increased costs that the proposed rule would impose on other Federal agencies
Refer to title for summary. Sponsor: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) (introduced 3/3/2015).
S.791: American Energy Renaissance Act of 2015
Of relevance, this bill articulates a congressional finding that EPA exceeded its regulatory authority by promulgating greenhouse gas regulations. The bill would amend the Clean Air Act to exclude greenhouse gases from the definition of an “air pollutant,” and would repeal the current rulemaking for carbon pollution standards for power plants. Sponsor: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (introduced 3/18/2015). Related Bill(s): H.R.1487.
S.AMDT.836: Would amend S.Con.Res.11. This amendment would establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund that would prohibit from EPA from withholding highway funds from States that refuse to submit State Implementation Plans required under the Clean Power Plan. Sponsor: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (introduced 3/25/2015). Action: 3/26/2015 Agreed in the Senate 57-43.
S.128: Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015
This bill would facilitate better alignment, cooperation, and best practices between commercial real estate landlords and tenants regarding energy efficiency in buildings. Sponsor: Rob Portman (R-OH) (introduced 1/8/2015). Related Bill(s): H.R.873, H.R.906, S.259, S.720.
S.535: Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015
This bill is intended to increase the use of energy efficient technologies in buildings, and would establish additional standards for grid-enabled water heaters. Sponsor: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). (introduced 3/11/2015). Action: 3/27/2015 Passed Senate; 4/21/2015 Passed House; 4/30/2015 Signed by the President and became public law No. 114-11.
S.720: Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act
This bill is intended to increase the use of energy efficient technologies in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. The legislation would strengthen national model building codes, require the Secretary of Energy to encourage States, American Indian tribes and local governments to meet or exceed target building efficiency standards, and require the Secretary of Energy to provide grants for the establishment of training and assessment centers, for the purpose of building a workforce skilled in developing and applying energy efficient technological and design concepts to commercial and institutional buildings. Through finance initiatives, it would facilitate private investment in the research and development of energy efficient technologies and efficiency upgrades. In addition, a number of incentives would be put in place for manufacturers to use more efficient electric motors and transformers in industrial processes. The federal government, the single largest U.S. energy user, would be required to institute energy saving techniques for computers. It also requires all federal agency issued, insured, purchased, or securitized home mortgages to account for energy efficiency in the mortgage appraisal/underwriting process. In addition, the legislation would exempt the thermal storage water heater efficiency standards that go into effect April 2015. Sponsor: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). (introduced 3/11/2015). Related Bill(s): H.R.873, H.R.906, S.128, S.259.
S.AMDT.3: Would amend S.AMDT.2 to S.1. This amendment would facilitate better alignment, cooperation, and best practices between commercial real estate landlords and tenants regarding energy efficiency in buildings. Sponsor: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) (introduced 1/13/2015). Action: 1/20/2015 Agreed in the Senate 94-5.
H.R. 222: To prohibit the Export-Import Bank of the United States from providing financial support for certain high carbon intensity energy projects
Refer to title for summary. Sponsor: Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) (introduced 1/8/2015).
H.R.383: No Tax Dollars for the United Nations' Climate Agenda Act
This bill would prohibit United States contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or the Green Climate Fund. Sponsor: Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) (introduced 1/14/2015).
H.R.597: Reform Exports and Expand the American Economy Act
Of relevance, this bill would extend suspension of the Export-Import Bank from providing financial support from certain high carbon intensity projects through September 30, 2019. Sponsor: Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) (introduced 1/28/2015).
H.CON.RES.6: Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should provide, on an annual basis, an amount equal to at least one percent of United States gross domestic product (GDP) for nonmilitary foreign assistance programs.
Of relevance, this bill articulates a sense of Congress of the importance of contributing to global efforts that combat climate change. Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) (introduced 1/9/2015).
H.CON.RES.29: Recognizing the disparate impact of climate change on women and the efforts of women globally to address climate change.
Refer to title for summary. Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) (introduced 3/25/2015).
H.RES.218: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the conditions for the United States becoming a signatory to any international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This bill articulates a sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should not sign any international climate agreement that would: not require all parties to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, not require all parties to make an equal amount of reductions at an equivalent rate, result in serious harm to the U.S. economy, and not protect U.S. property rights. Sponsor: Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) (introduced 4/21/2015).
S.AMDT.78: Would amend S.AMDT.2 to S.1. This amendment articulates a sense of the Senate that the United States should not agree to any bilateral or other international agreements on greenhouse gas emissions that imposes disproportionate and economically commitments to the United States. Sponsor: Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) (introduced 1/13/2015). Action: 1/22/2015 Failed in the Senate 51-46.
S.66: A bill to prohibit any regulation regarding carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the United States until China, India, and Russia implement similar reductions.
Refer to title for summary. Sponsor: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) (introduced 1/7/2015).
H.R.3: Keystone XL Pipeline Act
This will would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Sponsor: Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) (introduced 1/6/2015). Action: 1/9/2015 Passed in the House by a vote of 266-153. Related Bill(s): S.1.
S.1: Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act
This will would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. During debate on the bill, the following amendments were added that pertain to climate change: SAmdt.3, SAmdt.24, SAmdt.29, SAmdt.58, SAmdt.99, and SAmdt.174. Sponsor: Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) (introduced 1/6/2015). Action 1/29/2015 Passed in the Senate by a vote of 62-36. Related Bill(s): H.R.3.
S.585: American Natural Gas Security and Consumer Protection Act
Of relevance, this bill would require the Secretary of Energy, when considering an application for export of natural gas, to consider such factors as the ability of the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sponsor: Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) (introduced 3/6/2014).
H.R.508: SUPER Act of 2015
This bill would create a task force to review existing policies and develop best practices aimed at combating significant drivers of global climate change. This task force would find gaps and overlaps among the already existing efforts of multiple levels of government and coalesce them in order to achieve super pollutant reductions. Super pollutants include black carbon, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, tropospheric ozone and its precursors, and emissions from banks of ozone-depleting substances. Sponsor: Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) (introduced 1/22/2015).
H.R.201: Community Parks Revitalization Act
This bill would authorize the Secretary of House and Urban Development to establish a program enabling communities to leverage resources to invest in parks, recreational areas, facilities and programs, and other purposes. Of relevance, the Secretary will coordinate with federal and state agencies that administer programs, such as climate change, green jobs, natural resource management, and voluntary actions. Sponsor: Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) (introduced 1/7/2015). Related Bill(s): H.R.199.
H.R.1000: Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act of 2015
This bill would establish a National Full Employment Trust Fund to provide employment opportunity grants for unemployed and underemployed individuals. Of relevance, grants could be used for the implementation of environmental initiatives designed to conserve natural resources, remediate environmental damage, reverse climate change, and achieve environmental sustainability. Sponsor: Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) (introduced 2/13/2015).
H.R.1971: To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the climate
This bill would establish a federal renewable energy portfolio, would require DOE to increase energy efficiency targets, and would require EPA to implements policies to meet emission reduction targets. Sponsors: Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) (introduced 4/22/2015).
S.268: Rebuild America Act of 2015
Of relevance, this bill would establish eligibility criteria for transportation and energy infrastructure projects, such as reducing carbon emissions, to receive financial assistance from the National Infrastructure Development Bank. Sponsor: Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) (introduced 1/27/2015).
H.R.309: Gas Tax Replacement Act of 2015
This bill would replace the gas tax with a carbon tax on gas and diesel fuels. Sponsors: Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) (introduced 1/13/2015).
H.R.972: Managed Carbon Price Act of 2015
This bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by requiring a federal emission permit for the sale or use of a fossil fuel or greenhouse gas and returning the funds to taxpayers. Sponsors: Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) (introduced 2/13/2015).
H.R.1027: Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2015
This bill would require the first sellers of oil, coal, and natural gas into the U.S. market to purchase carbon emission permits at auction, and would return the funds to taxpayers. Sponsors: Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) (introduced 2/24/2015).
S. CON.RES.1: A concurrent resolution expressing the sense of Congress that a Carbon tax is not in the economic interest of the United States.
Refer to title for summary. Sponsor: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) (introduced 1/7/2015).
S.AMDT.928: Would amend S.Con.Res.11. This amendment would establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to prohibit a fee or tax on carbon emissions. Sponsor: Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) (introduced 3/25/2015). Action: 3/26/2015 Agreed in the Senate 58-42.
H.R.198: MOVE Freight Act of 2015
This bill would establish a national freight network, composed of highways, railways, navigable waterways, seaports, airports, freight intermodal connectors, and aerotropolis transportation systems most critical to the multimodal movement of freight with the goal of improving the efficiency of the system. This would include providing competitive grants and planning assistance. Of particular relevance, in determining whether to award a grant, the Secretary of Transportation must consider the extent to which the project reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Sponsor: Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) (introduced 1/7/2015).
H.R.614: SAVE Act
Of relevance, this bill would establish requirements for U.S. Postal Service fleet vehicles that at a minimum, meet EPA greenhouse gas vehicle standards and NHTSA fuel economy standards. Sponsor: Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) (introduced 1/28/2015).
H.R.679: To establish a Road Usage Charge Pilot Program to study mileage-based fee systems, and for other purposes
Of relevance, this bill would require the Treasury Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, to establish a working group to evaluate the road usage charge pilot program. Criteria for the working group includes elevating the potential of methods to manage demand and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sponsor: Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) (introduced 2/3/2015).
H.R.779: Northern Virginia Metrorail Extension Act
Of relevance, the bill articulates a congressional finding that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) takes 580,000 cars off the road each day, eliminates the need for 1,400 lane miles of highway, reduces gas consumption by 75 million gallons annually, and eliminates more than 10,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually. Sponsor: Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) (introduced 2/5/2015).
H.R.1308: Economy in Motion: The National Multimodal and Sustainable Freight Infrastructure Act
Of relevance, this bill would require the Secretary of Transportation to distribute funds to States to develop a plan that improves efficiency and reliability of freight movement, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. Sponsor: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) (introduced 3/4/2015).
H.CON.RES.33: Expressing the sense of Congress that the Federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks should not be increased.
Of relevance, this resolution articulates a sense of Congress that the model year 2014-2018 EPA-Department of Transportation greenhouse gas emissions standards and fuel efficiency standards will add up to $8,000 to the price of new heavy-duty trucks. Sponsor: Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI-8) (introduced 3/26/2015).
S.889: Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act of 2015
Of relevance, this bill would allow alternative fuel vehicles that are in compliance with fuel economy standards to be deemed in compliance with EPA’s greenhouse gas standards. Sponsor: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (introduced 3/26/2015).
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pursuing regulatory and voluntary steps to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas production system, the largest manmade source of this potent greenhouse gas.
On January 14, 2015, EPA announced a goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 – 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. As part of achieving this goal, it will release proposed regulations under Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act in the summer for new and modified sources of methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector.
EPA also plans to work collaboratively with industry and states, including expanding its voluntary Natural Gas Star program, to reduce methane from existing oil and gas operations.
Steps to reduce methane from other sources, such as landfills and coal mines, are also part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
What is methane?
Methane, or CH4, is the main component of natural gas. When combusted as fuel, natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide emissions as coal, and one third less than oil (per unit of energy produced). However, natural gas that is released into the atmosphere without being combusted is a potent greenhouse gas.
Why is it important to reduce methane emissions?
Methane is the second biggest driver of climate change. It is much more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) at increasing the atmosphere’s heat-trapping ability, but it remains in the atmosphere a much shorter time (a little more than a decade compared with hundreds of years for CO2).
Averaged over a 100-year time frame, the warming potential of methane is about 21 times stronger than that of CO2. However, in a 20-year time frame, it is 72 times more potent. (The most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change raises estimates of the global warming potential of methane to 34 times stronger than CO2 for the 100-year time frame, and 86 for the 20-year time frame. However the earlier estimates are still used to maintain comparability among U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory reports.)
Because methane is potent and short-lived, reducing methane emissions can have a more immediate benefit, and is especially important at a time of growing U.S. oil and natural gas production.
What are the primary sources of methane emissions in the United States?
Natural gas and petroleum systems are the largest emitters of methane in the U.S., according to EPA estimates. These emissions come from intentional and unintentional releases.
Agriculture, solid waste landfills, and coal mines are also major sources and are addressed by other EPA programs.
Figure 1: 2012 U.S. Methane Emissions, By Source
In 2012, U.S. methane emissions totaled 567 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Draft Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2012” (Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2014), http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html.
How much methane is released in oil and natural gas production and how will this announcement improve the accuracy of measurements?
Methane is released unintentionally and intentionally from oil and gas systems. According to EPA, natural gas and petroleum systems were responsible for 29 percent of methane emissions in 2012. The rate of methane emissions from the sector has decreased in recent years even as natural gas production has surged.
However, independent studies estimate a wide range of leak rates from natural gas production, from 0.71 to 7.9 percent. More comprehensive studies are needed for accurate results.
EPA has committed to examining options for applying remote sensing and other technologies to improve methane emissions data accuracy and transparency, and strengthening reporting requirements for methane in its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
Why is methane intentionally released?
In the production process, small amounts of methane can leak unintentionally. In addition, methane may be intentionally released or vented to the atmosphere for safety reasons at the wellhead or to reduce pressure from equipment or pipelines.
How does EPA propose to address methane emissions from oil and natural gas production?
EPA will propose standards by summer of 2015 for methane emissions from new and modified oil and gas production sources and natural gas processing and transmission sources. A final rule is expected in 2016.
EPA already regulates Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs, which are ozone-forming pollutants) from new oil and gas production sources, which has the side benefit of also reducing methane. EPA plans to apply VOC standards to existing oil and gas systems in areas that do not meet the ozone health standard and in northeastern states in the Ozone Transport Region.
For other existing oil and gas production, EPA said it will work collaboratively with states and industry, including the One Future Initiative and the Downstream Initiative, to reduce methane emissions through voluntary programs, such as the Natural Gas STAR program. The goal is to encourage innovation, provide transparency, and track progress toward specific methane emission reduction goals. The announcement noted that voluntary action by industry may reduce the need for future regulation, referring to regulation of existing sources under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. However, the administration noted that they will be evaluating progress on voluntary actions and determining if any additional steps are needed.
In addition, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management will update its standards, to be proposed in spring 2015, to reduce leaks and flaring of methane from both new and existing oil and gas wells on public lands.
What entities will be covered by the regulations?
The proposed rule would cover new and modified oil and gas production sources, and natural gas processing and transmission sources. Specifically, EPA notes it will look to reduce emissions from five specific sources discussed in technical papers in spring 2014: oil well completions, pneumatic pumps, and leaks from well sites, gathering and boosting stations, and compressor stations. In developing new standards, EPA says it will focus on in-use technologies, current industry practices, emerging innovations and streamlined and flexible regulatory approaches to ensure that emissions reductions can be achieved as oil and gas production and operations continue to grow.
How would the EPA’s proposed methane actions complement existing regulation?
In April 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new source performance standards (NSPS) and hazardous air pollutant regulations for oil and gas production and gas processing, transmission, and storage facilities. While primarily aimed at reducing smog-forming and toxic air pollutants, known as Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs, the rules also have the indirect effect of reducing methane emissions. These rules include the requirement to use "green completions" at natural gas wells to limit emissions from hydraulic fracturing, a rapidly growing means of drilling and production. In a “green completion,” special equipment separates hydrocarbons from the used hydraulic fracturing fluid, or “flowback,” that comes back up from the well as it is being prepared for production. This step allows for the collection (and sale or use) of methane that may be mixed with the flowback and would otherwise be released to the atmosphere.
In its January 2015 announcement, EPA said it will develop new guidelines to assist states in reducing VOCs from existing oil and gas systems in areas that do not meet the ozone health standard and in states in the Ozone Transport Region. Like the earlier NSPS, these guidelines will also reduce methane emissions.
What other non-regulatory steps has the administration announced it will take?
The president will request $15 million for the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop and demonstrate more cost-effective technologies to detect and reduce losses from natural gas transmission and distribution systems, including leaks repairs and developing next-generation compressors. The president’s budget will also propose $10 million to launch a program at DOE to enhance the quantification of emissions from natural gas infrastructure for inclusion in the national Greenhouse Gas Inventory in coordination with EPA. Congress must appropriate funding for these programs for them to be implemented. DOE will also be responsible for other recommendations to reduce emissions from the natural gas system.
Progress on a multifaceted global challenge like climate change doesn’t happen in one flash of bright light. This can lead to the impression that little is being accomplished, especially when stories highlight areas of disagreement.
Nothing can be further from the truth. In reality, progress is more like the brightening sky before dawn. We saw positive steps in 2014, and they’ll help lay the groundwork for significant climate action in 2015 in the United States and around the world.
In the U.S., we will see the EPA Clean Power Plan finalized and states taking up the challenge to develop innovative policies to reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Allowing governors to do what they do best, innovating at the state level, will be a key achievement of 2015.
Internationally, more countries than ever before will be putting forward new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions ahead of talks in December in Paris to hammer out a climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
In the New Year, we will be building on solid progress made in 2014 by governments, businesses, and individuals. Here are 10 examples:
The proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants is a long overdue turning point in America’s response to climate change.
EPA’s approach gives the states tremendous flexibility to design strategies that work best for them. States have always been incubators of innovation, and they will drive technological and policy innovation as they encourage low-cost solutions to implement the plan.
We need to encourage that innovation – by cities, states, and businesses -- to show the path forward to a clean energy economy.
C2ES submitted comments today as part of the EPA’s process to seek stakeholder input to the proposed rule before finalizing it in June 2015.
Here are five suggestions that could make EPA’s framework even better.
Comments of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions on Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units
Summary of C2ES December 2014 comments on EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units”
On June 18, 2014, EPA proposed carbon dioxide emission standards for existing power plants, also known as the Clean Power Plan, implementing its authority under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. More information on the proposed rule can be found here. On December 1, 2014, C2ES submitted formal comments to EPA in response to the proposed rule. The comments are summarized below.
Market-based mechanisms should be used to reduce carbon emissions: A nationwide, comprehensive, market-based program to reduce carbon emissions would be more effective and less costly than a state-by-state, sector-by-sector approach. Given the urgency of the need for climate policy action, and since such a program would require legislation that is unlikely in the near-term, EPA is appropriately using its authority under the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions from the power sector.
The Clean Power Plan is a stepping-stone to a comprehensive, national program: In finalizing the Clean Power Plan, EPA should do what it can to move individual actions toward a broader, nationwide program. This would include provisions that enable carbon-cutting technology deployment and policy consistency and compatibility across state lines.
State flexibility in the Clean Power Plan is critical: Since each state faces unique challenges when addressing its power sector, EPA has appropriately included several important flexibility elements in the proposal. States all have customized targets based on potential, and are authorized to work together or comply alone, pursue a rate- or mass-based standard, and drive emission reductions using any number of established or novel policy tools.
EPA-defined model provisions could encourage interstate consistency: Model provisions for topics such as how to use a carbon fee for compliance or what measurement, recording, and verification (MR&V) protocols to use to track efficiency measures could help states meet the deadline for their plans and could promote consistency across states.
Renewable energy projections should be based on a state’s market potential: Basing renewable generation projections, used in building block two of the Best System of Emission Reduction (BSER) determination, on regional benchmarks of Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) leads to inconsistent and inequitable results. This projection should instead be based on the potential market penetration of renewable generation in each state.
Unaffected generators should be able to opt-in: Generators not covered in the proposal, such as those under 25 megawatts or not connected to the electricity grid, should be allowed to opt-in such that their emission reductions can be credited.
Assuming a phase-in from coal to natural gas could increase state flexibility: The interim compliance targets, generally driven by a projected sudden shift from coal to gas, are so stringent that they could force some states to invest in new natural gas capacity to replace retired coal. EPA should consider softening these interim targets, coupled with a strengthening of final targets, to ensure states have adequate time to invest in long-term solutions like renewable generation.
Support for nuclear generation should be strengthened: EPA should consider factoring 100 percent of existing nuclear generation in its target and compliance calculations to ensure states are strongly encouraged to maintain their existing fleets. EPA should also explore means to increase credit for nuclear units currently under construction to recognize the investment and foresight of the relevant states.
A single year should not be used as the hydropower generation baseline: States that rely heavily on hydropower can experience significant year-to-year variability in fossil generation to balance the variability in water resource availability. EPA should consider a multi-year baseline to more realistically account for each state’s current reliance on fossil generation.
States should be encouraged to improve energy efficiency regardless of when or where the emission cuts take place: EPA should ensure states are able to give equal credit to any efficiency or conservation measure that reduces electricity demand in the compliance period, regardless of when the measure was enacted and even if it leads to a reduction in electricity imports in addition to a reduction in domestic generation.
New load that cuts economy-wide emissions should not be discouraged: As proposed, the Clean Power Plan would discourage many states from adding new load that actually cuts carbon emissions on a system-wide basis. For example, electric vehicles add to power plant emissions but more than offset this increase with a decrease in gasoline emissions. EPA should adjust the proposal to ensure such loads are not discouraged.
All types of demand reduction should be recognized: Assuming appropriate MR&V protocols are used, states should be able to recognize and reward credit for all demand reduction driven by efficiency policies or investments. For example, if a water utility reduces its electricity demand by reducing the demand for water (thereby reducing demand for pumping and treatment), this reduction should be creditable as part of the state's implementation of the Plan.