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

Legislation in the 113th Congress Related to Global Climate Change

Nearly 230 bills focusing specifically on climate change were introduced in the 113th Congress (2013-2014). Many more bills touched on energy, environment, transportation, agriculture and other areas that could have an impact on or be affected by climate change. The list below, however, contains for the most part only those bills whose authors explicitly reference climate change or related terms, such as greenhouse gases or carbon dioxide. (For brevity, all legislative proposals, including resolutions and amendments, are referred to here as "bills.")

While little climate-related legislation passed, this Congress introduced twice as many climate-related bills than in the previous Congress. A closer look reveals:

  • 233 climate-specific bills were introduced, surpassing the 113 introduced during the 112th Congress (2011-2012), and coming close to the 235 of the 110th Congress (2008-2009).
  • 144 of the bills (62 percent) support climate action in some way.
  • 48 bills are intended to build resilience to climate impacts, compared with nine introduced in the previous Congress.
  • 26 bills supporting climate action have bipartisan co-sponsorship. Nine of them promote energy efficiency.
  • 58 bills, 11 of them bipartisan, would block or hinder EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Four such bills passed the House, but none passed the Senate.
  • 16 bills supporting climate action were written by Republicans, while nine bills opposing climate action were written by Democrats, showing that while there are exceptions, climate issues continue to largely fall along partisan lines.
  • 19 bills would block or hinder federal agencies from using the social cost of carbon in federal rulemaking.
  • 4 bills seek to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.

Congress voted on 48 of these bills, three-quarters of these bills passed the House of Representatives, and nearly 35 percent of these bills would curb EPA’s greenhouse gas regulatory authority. Only three bills loosely related to climate change (though not directly referencing it) were passed and signed into law: the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act and the Hurricane Sandy Relief bills to cope with Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath; and Public Law 113-89, which reverses many of the provisions of the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, and was enacted into law despite being opposed by climate action and taxpayer advocates.

The bills, resolutions, and amendments of the 113th Congress dealing with climate change are divided into the following categories:

Obama makes the case. What comes next?

I recently replied to a question on the National Journal blog on sizing up President Obama's State of the Union speech

You can read responses at the National Journal.

Here is my response: When Congress failed to enact the climate bill in 2010, many longtime climate action advocates responded by falling silent on climate change. “Too polarizing,” they said. “When we talk about climate change, the skeptics attack climate science, the press reports he-said-she-said, and all the public hears is a muddle. Let’s talk about green jobs and air pollution instead.”


C2ES Policy Guide Outlines Options for Climate and Energy Action

Press Release

February 13, 2013

Contact: Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org or 703-516-0621


WASHINGTON – A new policy guide from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) outlines actions the Administration and Congress can take to protect the climate and meet America’s energy needs.

The new guide, Federal Action on Climate Change and Clean Energy, identifies a range of steps that can be taken by executive action or through legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, advance clean energy and energy efficiency, and make communities and critical infrastructure more climate-resilient.

“As President Obama rightly emphasized in his inaugural and State of the Union addresses, we can both reduce climate risks and strengthen the economy by accelerating the clean energy transition,” said C2ES President Eileen Claussen.

“We continue to believe that market-based approaches that put a price on carbon are the most cost-effective means of reducing emissions.  So as the president and Congress seek long-term solutions to the nation’s fiscal challenges, we strongly encourage them to consider a cap-and-trade program or a revenue-neutral carbon tax,” Claussen said.  “But there are plenty of other steps that are politically viable and will make a difference.”

For example, using existing authorities, the Administration could:   

  • Build on its new rules doubling the fuel economy of passenger vehicles by adopting stronger fuel economy and emissions standards through 2025 for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Finalize carbon emission standards for new power plants, and develop standards for existing plants (source of a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions) allowing states to use a range of implementation measures, including market-based approaches.
  • Step up efforts to reduce emissions of short-lived climate forcers such as methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
  • Set new energy efficiency standards for household appliances and industrial equipment.
  • Strengthen climate resilience by helping states, businesses and communities prepare for more extreme weather and other climate impacts.
  • Shrink the federal carbon footprint by improving energy efficiency and expanding the use of clean energy in defense and other federal operations.

Working together, the president and Congress can also:

  • Provide continued support for research, development and deployment of low-emitting energy technologies, including programs at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
  • Extend the wind production tax credit and initiate a comprehensive review of all energy subsidies to set criteria for phasing out those no longer needed.
  • Take steps to reduce emissions and promote clean energy in the reauthorizations of transportation, the farm bill and other major federal programs.
  • Establish a comprehensive climate information service similar to the National Weather Service to help states and localities factor long-range forecasts into their adaptation and disaster response strategies.

To read the C2ES policy guide, click here.

To arrange interviews about the C2ES policy guide, contact Laura Rehrmann at rehrmannl@c2es.org.

About C2ES

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the linked challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Learn more at www.c2es.org.


Eileen Claussen's Statement on 2013 State of the Union

Statement of Eileen Claussen


Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

February 12, 2013

We’re encouraged that the president again made a strong case for action and went the next step by laying out some specific ideas for moving toward a low-carbon economy.

A stable climate and reliable energy are both fundamental to our economic well-being.  The past year of extreme heat, drought, flooding and wildfire made painfully clear that the economic costs of climate change are real and rising. By investing now in clean energy and climate resilience we can reduce these risks while strengthening our economy and energy security. And we can help U.S. firms and workers better compete in the global clean energy market.

Like the president, we continue to believe that market-based approaches that put a price on carbon are the most cost-effective means of reducing emissions. So as he and Congress seek long-term solutions to the nation’s fiscal challenges, we strongly encourage them to consider either a cap-and-trade system or a revenue-neutral carbon tax. 

If Congress isn’t prepared to act, the president has no choice but to use the powers at his disposal to cut carbon emissions. Many companies are prepared to work with EPA to craft sensible policies meeting both our climate and energy needs. EPA can achieve the biggest emission cuts at the lowest cost by allowing states to use a range of implementation approaches, including market-based policies.

We hope the president continues to speak out in the weeks and months ahead. We’re long overdue for a sensible and sustained conversation about the risks of climate change and the economic opportunities in a clean energy transition. And no one is better placed to lead that conversation than the president.

How should Washington address climate change?

I recently replied to a question on the National Journal blog: “How should Washington address climate change?"

You can ready other responses at the National Journal.

Here is my response: President Obama’s inaugural address placed climate change and clean energy where they truly belong – among the most profound challenges of our time.  Our progress in addressing them over the next four years depends on how vigorously the president works to translate words into action, and whether there’s any willingness in Congress to join him in the effort.

Eileen Claussen's Statement on Nomination of John Kerry as Secretary of State

Statement of Eileen Claussen


Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

December 21, 2012

We strongly applaud Sen. Kerry’s nomination as Secretary of State.

Sen. Kerry has a long history of supporting policies to help the environment. No member of Congress has devoted more energy over the past two decades to strengthening the international effort against climate change.

Global climate change is one of the key challenges of our time. Sen. Kerry will bring vital expertise and knowledge on the issue of climate change as we endeavor to work toward a meaningful, balanced international agreement in 2015.


Contact Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org or 703-516-0621

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Learn more at www.c2es.org.

Public Trust Doctrine Cases

Loorz v. Jackson (United States District Court for the District of Columbia, April 2, 2012). 

A federal district court in Washington D.C. allowed business groups to intervene in a lawsuit that seeks to require the federal government to establish a plan for an immediate cap on GHG emissions and start lowering these emissions by six percent a year beginning in 2013. Several advocacy groups, including Our Children’s Trust, filed the federal lawsuit in May 2011 along with similar actions in many states. The lawsuit alleges that the federal government has a duty under the public trust doctrine to reduce GHG emissions in the atmosphere. So far, no state challenges have been successful.

Alec L. v. Jackson (United States District Court for the District of Columbia, May 31, 2012). 

Five children, along with the groups Kids vs. Global Warming and WildEarth Guardians, sued the heads of several federal agencies for failing to adequately address global warming. The plaintiffs proceeded on the theory that the atmosphere is a commonly shared public resource that defendants, as agency heads, have a duty to protect under the public trust doctrine. As relief, plaintiffs asked for an injunction directing the named federal agencies to “take all necessary actions to enable carbon dioxide emissions to peak by 2012 and decline by at least six percent per year beginning in 2013.” Defendants and intervenors argued in a motion to dismiss that plaintiffs failed to state a valid claim for relief. The district court agreed and dismissed the suit.  Relying on the recent Supreme Court decision PPL Montana, LLC v. Montana (2012), the court held that the public trust doctrine is a matter of state, not federal, law. It further held that even if the public trust doctrine were a federal common law claim, such a claim has been displaced in this case by the Clean Air Act (as was similarly held in the 2011 Supreme Court case American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut).



American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers v. EPA (United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, filed June 2012).  

In June 2012, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and the Western States Petroleum Association filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court, challenging the EPA’s Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) volume mandate decision for 2012. Specifically, it challenges EPA’s decision to require refiners to blend domestic fuel with cellulosic ethanol, an absolute volume mandate, or pay a penalty.  In April 2012, the court approved six biofuel trade groups, including the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, the Advanced Biofuels Association, the American Coalition for Ethanol, the Advanced Ethanol Council, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization, to intervene in the lawsuit in support of the EPA. 

The lawsuit was filed after EPA denied a petition from various petroleum groups asking for a waiver of the 2011 cellulosic fuel requirements under the RFS standard; EPA has the authority to grant a waiver when there is an inadequate supply of domestic biofuel. Petroleum groups have been opposed to the cellulosic biofuels portion of the RFS since it took effect in 2010 in part because they allege that significant amounts of the renewable fuel don’t exist.  The lawsuit alleges that in denying the waiver, the EPA is essentially implementing a hidden fuel tax to consumers because it forces refiners to purchase credits representing a fuel that is not yet commercially available.  In denying the petition, the EPA said that the organizations had ample opportunity to raise their arguments in response to the two notices of proposed rulemaking but failed to do so.  This is case is currently pending.


Clean Water Act Cases

Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA (2009-2010). 

May 2009: The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the EPA in federal court in Washington State, alleging that the agency failed to recognize the impacts of ocean acidification on waters off the state’s coast. The suit was brought under the Clean Water Act, which requires states to identify water bodies that fail to meet water-quality standards. According to the Center, since 2000, the pH of Washington’s coastal waters has declined by more than .2 units, which violates the state’s water-quality standard for pH. The complaint states that carbon dioxide, which is absorbed by seawater, causes seawater to become more acidic, lowering its pH. This impairs the ability of certain marine animals to build protective shells and skeletons they need to survive.  

March 2010: In a proposed settlement, EPA agreed to consider issuing nationwide guidance under the Clean Water Act to help states deal with the threat of ocean acidification. Under the terms of the settlement, EPA would seek comments on approaches for states to determine if waters are threatened or impaired by ocean acidification and how states might help monitor ocean acidification and its effects on marine life and ecosystems.

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