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
I recently replied to a question on the National Journal blog on what's keeping Washington from making the type of progress on energy and climate policy that is being made on other issues.
You can read responses at the National Journal.
Here is my response:
Last year’s extreme drought, wildfires and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy have driven home the high economic costs associated with extreme weather. The increasing frequency and intensity of such events make it clear that climate change presents a real and present danger. It no longer can be dismissed as a problem only of concern to our children or grandchildren.
This increased urgency has also caused an important shift in our understanding of what actions are required to slow the rate of climate change. Recent studies have focused on the need for a two-pronged approach. Reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, some portion of which stays in the atmosphere for centuries, is critical to long-term efforts. But curbing greenhouse gases with shorter atmospheric lifetimes will have significant near-term climate and public health benefits.
On February 25, 2013, C2ES responded to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's (D-RI)—Co-Chairs of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change—request for policy responses to climate change. The letter below assesses effective policy responses to climate change and includes links to the resources mentioned in the letter.
Dear Congressman Waxman and Senator Whitehouse:
Thank you for your request for policy responses to climate change and for considering the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) a key participant in this important dialogue.
We agree that the past year of extreme heat, drought, flooding and wildfire underscores the need for stronger measures to advance clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and strengthen America’s climate resilience. We believe that strong and sensible federal action to reduce climate risks must be a top national priority.
C2ES continues to favor market-based approaches that put a price on carbon as the most cost-effective means of reducing GHG emissions. Apart from such approaches, which would require major new legislation, there is a range of actions the Administration and Congress can take to significantly reduce GHG emissions, expand clean energy sources, and make communities and critical infrastructure more climate-resilient. For example: the Administration can adopt stronger standards through 2025 for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles; finalize its proposed GHG emission standards for new power plants; set GHG emissions standards for existing power plants, while allowing states to meet them with a range of market-based measures; increase the energy efficiency of appliances and industrial equipment; open more federal lands to renewable energy development; and increase efforts to tackle short-lived climate forcers such as methane, black carbon, and HFCs. Please find attached a paper that C2ES recently published on “Federal Action on Climate Change and Clean Energy” describing these and other measures.
While there are several actions Congress could undertake (as mentioned in the attached paper), we would like to raise one, in particular, for your consideration: Carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) offers a safe and commercially proven method of domestic oil production that can help the United States simultaneously capture and store CO2 from industrial facilities and power plants, and increase our nation’s energy security by reducing dependence on foreign oil. The National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI), a coalition of industry, state, labor and environmental leaders, has released consensus recommendations for Congressional action to advance CO2-EOR. Because coal and natural gas will be significant sources of energy in the United States, China, India and other countries for years to come, carbon capture and storage (CCS) is likely to be critical for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources as quickly as they must be reduced; the NEORI recommendations provide perhaps the only viable approach at this time for reducing the cost of deploying CCS. In 2012, Senators Conrad, Enzi, and Rockefeller introduced legislation (S. 3581) that adopted NEORI’s recommendations for reforming the existing tax credit for carbon dioxide sequestration. NEORI is currently promoting the creation of a more flexible, comprehensive, and expanded tax credit to take full advantage of the environmental, economic, and energy security benefits offered by CO2-EOR. Please find attached NEORI’s complete recommendations.
Please have your staff contact Nikki Roy with any questions about this or with anything else C2ES can do to be of assistance. We look forward to working with you and your congressional colleagues to advance a strong U.S. climate change policy.
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
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:
- Climate Change Adaptation
- Clean Energy
- Energy Efficiency
- Natural Gas
- Other Greenhouse Gases
- Other Climate Action
- Renewable Fuel Standard
- Pricing Carbon
- Carbon Capture and Storage or Enhanced Oil Recovery
- Elimination of Tax Credit for Carbon Capture and Storage
- Keystone XL
- Curbing Climate Action
- National Flood Insurance Program
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.”