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Top 10 Reasons the Senate should Strengthen and Pass ACES

Dan Lashof

Posted July 7, 2009

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It is vital to enact comprehensive energy and climate legislation this year - to help deliver economic, energy, and climate security.  As President Obama has said, the choice is "between a slow decline and renewed prosperity; between the past and the future."  The time to act is now.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), which passed the House at the end of June is an excellent starting point for this urgent task. Here are the top 10 reasons the Senate should strengthen and pass ACES.

  1. Clean. ACES sets the first-ever national limits on global warming pollution which get tighter every year, with science-based long-term emission limits that will cut emissions 42 percent by 2030 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels. The bill should be strengthened by requiring at least a 20 percent reduction by 2020 and preserving EPA's authority to set New Source Performance Standards and conduct New Source Review with respect to greenhouse gases.
  2. Comprehensive. ACES establishes a declining cap covering approximately 85 percent of U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, and includes complementary performance standards to advance energy efficiency, renewable, and clean energy technologies. The bill should be strengthened by fully accounting for the emissions attributable to biofuels.
  3. Creates Jobs. ACES will create the clarity and economic drivers for the investments we need to shift to the low-carbon economy. Investing $150 billion in clean energy, which ACES will help drive, will create a net increase of 1.7 million jobs according to the Political Economy Research Institute.
  4. Affordable. According to both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Congressional Budget Office, the actual per household cost of the ACES bill in 2020 will be less than a postage stamp a day. NRDC's research shows that under this bill by 2020 American households will save $6 per month on their electricity bills and $14 per month on the cost of owning and driving their vehicles, taking into account the energy efficiency provisions in the bill.
  5. Increases Security. ACES provides the re-tooling incentives and loan guarantees needed to achieve President Obama's aggressive targets for cleaner higher mileage vehiclesby the year 2016-targets that are expected to cut US oil dependency by 1.4 million barrels a day by 2020, according the Union of Concerned Scientists.
  6. Fair. The vast majority of the emission permits established by ACES are distributed for public purposes, not private windfalls - more than 80 percent over the life of the bill, according to Harvard economist Robert Stavins. The bill should be strengthened by dedicating a larger portion of the value of permits to energy efficiency investments.
  7. Transparent. ACES includes important provisions to transparently and effectively regulate the market for trading greenhouse gas permits, as well as futures and other derivatives.
  8. Competitive. ACES ensure that energy-intensive U.S. manufacturers have a level playing field so they can compete and win in the global economy by investing in state-of-the-art domestic facilities, preventing jobs and emissions from moving overseas .
  9. Pays for itself. ACES will not increase the federal budget deficit according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  10. Feasible. ACES is not perfect (no legislation is), but it passed the House and addresses concerns about cost and competitiveness that are key to success in the Senate.

Action to secure our economic, energy, and environmental future has already been delayed too long. The Senate should move quickly to strengthen and pass ACES.

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Linda CooperJul 10 2009 01:33 PM

Strengthen is too polite a word. As is, the bill does not do the job, and if it gets further diluted, I would recommend the President veto the Bill and start again.

The Congress is largely, although not entirely, responsible for the lack of progress in reducing fossil energy consumption during the past 40 years. The fact that a bill was passed is not necessarily a step forward.

Linda J Cooper

Moving to a low carbon economy should first and foremost focus on demand management.

Replacement of the combustion engine and clean public transit, energy efficiency in buildings and lighting are the primary tools to stem climate change. All new demand or replacement of existing demand driven by retirement of old coal and nuclear plants, should be met by alternative technology on a "community scale" basis, and cap and trade, in my opinion, is little more bait and switch. I prefer an energy tax approach.

Starting with a bad premise (bill) to start with can lead to nothing anyway. I advise starting from scratch not just strengthening a bad bill.

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