Federal Actions & Legislation

Federal Legislation

Pending Bills & Analyses

The Securing America’s Future and Environment Act (S.1881) (11-16-11). Introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and co-sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), this bill would establish a national climate adaptation strategy. The measure would establish an “integrated Federal program” to respond to climate change impacts through the process of “protecting, restoring, and conserving the natural resources of the United States.”  The program would work in conjunction with state, local, and tribal governments.

Primer on Federal Surface Transportation Authorization and the Highway Trust Fund, and Saving Oil and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions through U.S. Federal Transportation Policy, Pew Center on Global Climate Change (Feb. 15, 2011). These papers offer a guide to federal transportation reauthorization legislation and identify opportunities to save oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in new legislation as well as through existing legislative authority. The strategy focuses on five key elements: vehicles; fuels; vehicle miles traveled; system efficiency; and construction, maintenance, and other activities of transportation agency operations. The papers follow up on the Pew Center’s report, Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Transportation, which identifies reasonable actions that could deliver up to a 65 percent reduction in transportation emissions from current levels by 2050 across three fronts – technology, policy, and consumer behavior.

Bill Comparison: EPA Authority Regarding Greenhouse Gases, Georgetown Climate Center (February 2011). The document provides a side-by-side comparison of three proposals offered to date in the 112th Congress that would limit or eliminate federal agencies' and states' authority to regulate greenhouse gases. The bills are the Defending America's Affordable Energy and Jobs Act (Sen. Barrasso, R-WY), the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (Sen. Inhofe, R-OK and Rep. Upton, R-MI), and the EPA Stationary Source Regulations Suspension Act (Sen. Rockefeller, D-WV).

Federal Energy Bills Include Electric Vehicles, Efficient Truck Engines, CAFE Standards, and Natural Gas-Fueled Vehicles. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced in late July that the Senate would no longer pursue a nationwide cap-and-trade system as part of comprehensive energy legislation, instead introducing the scaled back Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010 (S. 3663). The measure would remove the $75 million liability cap on companies that own or operate offshore rigs and would provide incentives for natural gas and electric vehicles. Debate on the measure may occur before the Senate leaves for its August recess, or it may be delayed until the Senate returns in September.  On July 21, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved legislation including bills to promote plug-in electric vehicles and more fuel-efficient truck engines. The Promoting Electric Vehicles Act (S. 3495) by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) that would authorize $3.6 billion to create "deployment communities" for plug-in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. The bill would provide $1.5 billion for a research program at the Energy Department on advanced batteries, vehicle components, charging infrastructure, and other technologies. The committee also approved the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act of 2009 (S. 2843) by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) that expands the existing DOE research program on advanced vehicle technologies to include medium and heavy-duty commercial and transit vehicles. Other legislation introduced in July included the Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act (S. 3601) that would set a goal of ending overseas oil imports within 20 years by increasing production and use of electric vehicles, developing alternative transportation fuels, reducing the use of heating oil, and other means. Introduced July 15 by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), the measure would direct the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency to issue rules using existing authority to set Corporate Average Fuel Economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for light-duty fleet from 2017 through 2030, as well as issue rules "to maximize oil savings" for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The measure also would authorize funding for a comprehensive electric vehicle deployment program, establish a new tax credit for "grid-interactive vehicles," extend and create new tax credits for advanced biofuels for certain vehicles that run on natural gas, and authorize funding for a state-based energy efficiency program for residential and commercial uses of heating oil and propane. It also incorporates a bill (S. 575) that calls for 10 percent of cap-and-trade allowances to be used for local and state transportation projects such as expansion of mass transit and passenger rail, as well as the construction of sidewalks, bike trails, and other projects. In addition, the bill would establish a goal of shifting 10 percent of freight to rail and marine transportation, require a national freight mobility plan, and authorize a competitive grant program to address freight rail congestion.

Climate Action in Congress, Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Website provides links, summaries and analyses of climate change legislation in both houses of Congress.

American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454). Passed by the House of Representatives in 2009. This bill contains carbon "cap and trade" requirements, transportation planning requirements, funding for climate adaptation, clean technology provisions, and much more. The bill is 1,428 pages long. It is also known as the "Waxman-Markey" or "Cap and Trade" legislation. Section 841, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions through Transportation Efficiency contains transportation planning requirements for states and metropolitan planning organizations.

Economic Insights from Modeling Analyses of H.R. 2454 - the American Clean Energy and Security Act (Waxman-Markey), Pew Center on Global Climate Change (Jan.2010). This brief compares modeling analyses of the House-passed clean energy and climate bill (H.R. 2454) conducted by seven different groups including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and an academic institution.

Cost of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 Found to be Small According to Government Analyses, Pew Center on Global Climate Change (June 2009). Two recent government analyses that looked at the costs of the cap and trade portion of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) have found that the likely impact of this portion of the bill would be fairly small.

Scope of a Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Program, Pew Center on Global Climate Change (November 2008). This brief describes issues involved in choosing the set of greenhouse gases, emission sources, and sectors of the economy included in a cap-and-trade program.

Containing the Costs of Climate Policy, Pew Center on Global Climate Change (November 2008). This policy brief outlines various options for containing costs under a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Impact on the Economy of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R.2454), CRA International (May 2009). This report is an economic analysis for the impacts of H.R. 2454 on the U.S. economy, including effects on gasoline and other energy costs. It also discusses alternative approaches that could increase or decrease the cost of reducing GHG emissions in the United States.

The Role of Offsets in a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap-and-Trade Program: Potential Benefits and Concerns, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, Jonathan L. Ramseur (April 2008). This report evaluated the role of offsets in a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program.

Enacted Legislation

Overview of Climate-Related Provisions in the Federal Transportation Reauthorization Legislation, ”Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act" (MAP-21), Georgetown Climate Center (Sept. 7, 2012). This document summarizes provisions of the MAP-21 legislation related to greenhouse gas emissions reduction or climate adaptation efforts. MAP-21 was enacted in July 2012 and is effective Oct. 1, 2012.

Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Dec. 2007). This law focuses on automobile fuel economy, development of biofuels, and energy efficiency in public buildings and lighting.