Legislators draft federal carbon regulations

By Erin Voegele | April 14, 2009
Web exclusive posted April 23, 2009, at 9:55 a.m. CST

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, released a draft of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) in March. According to the legislators, the draft legislation is designed to create jobs, lessen the United States' dependence on foreign oil and combat global warming.

Under a clean energy title, the draft legislation contains provisions to:
  • • Create a renewable electricity requirement

  • • Develop carbon capture and sequestration technologies

  • • Establish a low-carbon transportation fuels standard

  • • Facilitate the deployment of a smart grid

  • The low carbon fuels standard established by the legislation would require that from 2014 to 2022 that the annual average lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of transportation fuel would not exceed the annual lifecycle GHG emissions of transportation fuel in 2005. Fuel used to meet obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard would be excluded from this requirement. However, beginning in 2023 regulations would require that the average lifecycle GHG emissions from all transportation fuels be reduced by at least 5 percent, increasing to 10 percent by 2030.

    The draft legislation also seeks to reduce global warming pollution. It would establish Title VII of the Clean Air Act, which would provide a declining limit on global warming pollution and hold industries accountable for pollution reduction under the limit. The bill would set the goal of reducing economy-wide global warming pollution to 97 percent of 2005 levels by 2012, 80 percent by 2020, 58 percent by 2030 and 17 percent by 2050.

    On April 22, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified at a Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing regarding the draft legislation. During her testimony, Jackson noted that achieving energy independence and reducing carbon emissions are not easy challenges. She reminded committee members that corporate lobbyists insisted that the Acid Rain Trading Program, signed into law in 1990, would be the "death for businesses across the country." However, she said, our economy grew by 64 percent while the program reduced acid rain pollution by more than 50 percent.

    Regarding the draft ACES legislation, Jackson said, "Now, the ‘no, we can't' crowd will spin out doomsday scenarios about runaway costs. But EPA's available economic modeling indicates that the investment Americans would make to implement the cap-and-trade program of the American Clean Energy and Security Act would be modest compared to the benefits that science and plain common sense tell us a comprehensive energy and climate policy will deliver."

    The Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to complete consideration of the draft legislation by Memorial Day.