Environment America today released “The Clean Energy Future Starts Here: Understanding the American Clean Energy and Security Act,” an analysis that puts the energy bill passed by the U.S. House in June in the perspective of its role in moving America toward clean energy, green jobs, and reduced global warming emissions. The analysis comes as Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer and Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry plan to release their energy bill on Wednesday, which will be the starting point for the Senate debate and is expected to follow the framework of the House bill.
The report concludes that passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act – even with the compromises made to secure passage in the House – would be a significant step toward a clean energy future for the United States and would represent a ground-breaking political achievement.
“It’s time to unleash the power of clean energy to transform our economy and reduce global warming pollution,” said Environment America Global Warming Program Director Emily Figdor. “While we need to do more to capture the potential of clean energy, the House-passed bill is an essential step forward to get us where we need to go.”
The ACES Act Moves America in the Right Direction
The ACES Act includes strong provisions to improve the energy efficiency of the American economy, as well as the nation’s first-ever mandatory nationwide limits on emissions of global warming pollutants. In addition, the bill establishes a framework for the future expansion of renewable energy in the U.S.
“The race to transform our energy system and avoid the worst impacts of global warming has begun, and we will consistently pick up speed from here,” said Figdor.
The ACES Act Has Some Major Flaws
To improve the bill from an incremental reform to a transformative policy, the Senate has to fix several key problems. The House-passed bill contains the following major flaws:
- The bill removes EPA’s current authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.
- The bill relies heavily on offsets – global warming emission reductions that take place overseas or in areas of the economy not covered by the emission cap – the effectiveness of which is highly uncertain.
- The ACES Act misses out on important opportunities to modernize our energy system, reduce pollution, and create new clean energy jobs.
- The renewable electricity standard in the bill is much too weak.
- The bill leaves vast untapped potential for energy efficiency.
- The bill gives away far too many of the valuable emission allowances to polluters for free.
“The Senate has the opportunity to make this bill the fundamental game-changer that the science of global warming calls for,” added Figdor.
The ACES Act Deserves Strong Support
Despite its flaws, passage of the ACES Act would be an historic achievement, for both substantive and political reasons.
- The ACES Act is a clear step in the right direction of reducing pollution, promoting energy efficiency in our buildings and our communities, and stimulating clean energy.
- Passage of the bill would represent a legislative breakthrough demonstrating that this issue is a winner and should be revisited regularly.
- The ACES Act requires periodic scientific review that creates a pathway for the bill’s goals to be strengthened over time.
- Passage of the ACES Act would send a message to the world that America is serious about dealing with our energy challenges.
- This debate presents an historic opportunity to educate the public about the need for a clean energy future and to build momentum for future battles to come.
Figdor concluded: “The ACES Act must be understood as part of a longer-term strategy to achieve a clean energy future for the nation – a strategy that builds momentum among policy makers and citizens across the country. The opening act doesn’t need to inspire a standing ovation as long as it sets the stage for great acts to follow. This bill can help lay the foundation for clean energy, green jobs, and reduced global warming pollution.”