The National Wildlife Federation has done an in-depth assessment, Climate Action Toolbox, of Waxman-Markey’s American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Unlike other summaries, this analysis breaks ACES down from the perspective of the key federal policy elements needed to solve the climate crisis and build a clean energy future.  It examines the legislation from the perspective of the new tools it gives us (and some tools that are still missing) for the work ahead to tackle climate change.

The “highlights” section is posted below, including this factoid:  “The bill will save more than twice as much oil as we could get by opening up protected areas to offshore drilling.”

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Highlights of NWF’s Toolbox Assessment of the American Clean Energy and Security Act

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National Wildlife Federation (NWF) believes that passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act is one of the most important legislative efforts of our time. The legislation combines a clean energy plan, an energy efficiency plan, and a global warming plan that will create millions of new clean energy jobs, set America on a path of global warming action, and enhance America’s energy independence.  NWF’s top priority for 2009 is to pass this important legislation while working to improve the legislation and defend it from efforts to weaken its impact. Here are some highlights of NWF’s Toolbox Assessment of ACES:

  • ACES adds 33 important new tools to America’s toolbox for building a clean energy future and confronting global warming.
  • ACES reduces global warming pollution significantly. ACES is a ‘fork in the road’ that puts the U.S. on a new pathway of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The pollution reductions in ACES by the year 2020 are equivalent to eliminating the pollution from 500 million cars — half the number of vehicles expected in the world in 2020 (see p. 8). ACES also establishes an important set of national scientific guidelines, scientific updates and policy reviews to steer and adjust U.S. efforts on global warming moving forward (p. 12).
  • ACES creates jobs and invests in clean energy and efficiency, including $90 billion for state clean energy programs thru 2025 (p. 23). ACES’ energy saving provisions — which are only one part of the job creating potential of this legislation and a clean energy economy — will create approximately 250,000 jobs by 2020, rising to 650,000 jobs generated by 2030 (p. 15).
  • ACES increases our energy security and reduces our dependency on oil. By 2020, ACES would save more than twice as much oil as we could get at peak production from opening up new areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to drilling (p. 8). By 2030, ACES would save more oil than we currently get from drilling in all the Rocky Mountain States plus what we could get from opening the OCS.
  • ACES saves America money that is currently spent on wasted energy. The energy efficiency provisions included in ACES, such as energy saving standards and building codes, could save approximately $750 per household by 2020 and $3,900 by 2030 (p. 15).
  • ACES is fair to low-income and moderate-income families. ACES includes consumer energy bill protections for all families, and it has added provisions to fully protect low-income families through refundable tax credits and an energy rebate program, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates will add up to as much as $700 annually for some households (p. 25).
  • ACES is a vital lifeline for America’s wildlife and natural resources. ACES provides funding for the most comprehensive program ever contemplated in legislation for protecting and restoring the natural resources that replenish America’s water supplies, provide fish and wildlife habitat, and support rural economies. Funding comes from polluter payments and is expected to average approximately $2.6 billion per year through 2030 – a small fraction of the economic benefits that natural resources provide (p. 24).
  • ACES protects tropical rainforests by investing $40 billion of polluter payments thru 2019 into forest protection programs (p. 10, 24).
  • 76% of ACES’ allowances from 2012-2030 are used for clean, green and fair climate solutions that serve the public interest (p. 21; also see pie chart). About 40% of allowances are auctioned federally or by states in 2012, growing to about 80% by 2030.
  • ACES is affordable, costing households “less than a postage stamp a day,” according to analysis by the U.S. EPA (p. 9).
  • ACES includes features to promote global progress. The bill includes important new funding for international commitments as well as incentives to encourage developing countries to reduce emissions (p. 19-20). This funding should be increased as the bill advances.
  • ACES reduces the federal deficit by $24 billion through 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  • ACES is missing 4 tools that will be needed in the climate action toolbox. Importantly, the bill should preserve EPA’s ability under the Clean Air Act to require existing power plants, refineries and other sources to meet up-to-date carbon pollution standards (p. 11).
  • ACES should also be strengthened by bolstering clean energy standards to create more clean energy jobs.

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