Climate change policy of the United States
The politics of global warming is played out at a state and federal level in the United States. American President Barack Obama committed during the December 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Summit that the U.S. would reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the range of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, 42% below 2005 levels by 2030, and 83% below 2005 levels by 2050. Data from an April 2013 report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), showed a 12% reduction in the 2005 to 2012 period. Just over half of this decrease has been attributed to the recession, and the rest to a variety of factors such as replacing coal-based power generation with natural gas and increasing energy efficiency of American vehicles (according to Council of Economic Advisors analysis).
- 1 Federal policy
- 2 State and local policy
- 3 Position of political parties and other political organizations
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
||This section lends undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, or controversies. (June 2011)|
The United States, although a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, has neither ratified nor withdrawn from the protocol. In 1997, the US Senate voted unanimously under the Byrd–Hagel Resolution that it was not the sense of the Senate that the United States should be a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. In 2001, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, stated that the Protocol "is not acceptable to the Administration or Congress".
The United States, along with Kazakhstan, have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol is non-binding over the United States unless ratified. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and (As of June 2011[update]) Barack Obama did not submit the treaty for ratification.
In October 2003, the Pentagon published a report titled An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall. The authors conclude by stating, "this report suggests that, because of the potentially dire consequences, the risk of abrupt climate change, although uncertain and quite possibly small, should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern."
In October 2003 and again in June 2005, the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act failed a vote in the US Senate. In the 2005 vote, Republicans opposed the Bill 49-6, while Democrats supported it 37–10.
In January 2007, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would form a United States Congress subcommittee to examine global warming. The US government announced that it was withdrawing funding from the lobby groups it had been supporting that aimed to discount the evidence for global warming. Sen. Joe Lieberman said, "I'm hot to get something done. It's hard not to conclude that the politics of global warming has changed and a new consensus for action is emerging and it is a bipartisan consensus."
The Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007 was introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on January 15, 2007. The measure would provide funding for R&D on geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2), set emissions standards for new vehicles and a renewable fuels requirement for gasoline beginning in 2016, establish energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards beginning in 2008 and low-carbon electric generation standards beginning in 2016 for electric utilities, and require periodic evaluations by the National Academy of Sciences to determine whether emissions targets are adequate. However, the bill died in committee.
In March 2011, the Republicans submitted a bill to the U.S. congress that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gasses as pollutants. As of July 2012, the EPA continues to oversee regulation under the Clean Air Act.
In March 2001, the Bush Administration announced that it would not implement the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan that would require nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, claiming that ratifying the treaty would create economic setbacks in the U.S. and does not put enough pressure to limit emissions from developing nations. In February 2002, Bush announced his alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, by bringing forth a plan to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gasses by 18 percent over 10 years. The intensity of greenhouse gasses specifically is the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions and economic output, meaning that under this plan, emissions would still continue to grow, but at a slower pace. Bush stated that this plan would prevent the release of 500 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, which is about the equivalent of 70 million cars from the road. This target would achieve this goal by providing tax credits to businesses that use renewable energy sources.
The Bush administration has been accused of implementing an industry-formulated disinformation campaign designed to actively mislead the American public on global warming and to forestall limits on "climate polluters", according to a report in Rolling Stone magazine that reviews hundreds of internal government documents and former government officials. The book Hell and High Water asserts that there has been a disingenuous, concerted and effective campaign to convince Americans that the science is not proven, or that global warming is the result of natural cycles, and that there needs to be more research. The book claims that, to delay action, industry and government spokesmen suggest falsely that "technology breakthroughs" will eventually save us with hydrogen cars and other fixes. It calls on voters to demand immediate government action to curb emissions. Papers presented at an International Scientific Congress on Climate Change, held in 2009 under the sponsorship of the University of Copenhagen in cooperation with nine other universities in the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), maintained that the climate change skepticism that is so prevalent in the USA "was largely generated and kept alive by a small number of conservative think tanks, often with direct funding from industries having special interests in delaying or avoiding the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions".
According to testimony taken by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Bush White House pressured American scientists to suppress discussion of global warming "High-quality science" was "struggling to get out", as the Bush administration pressured scientists to tailor their writings on global warming to fit the Bush administration's skepticism, in some cases at the behest of an ex-oil industry lobbyist. "Nearly half of all respondents perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words 'climate change,' 'global warming' or other similar terms from a variety of communications." Similarly, according to the testimony of senior officers of the Government Accountability Project, the White House attempted to bury the report "National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change", produced by U.S. scientists pursuant to U.S. law, Some U.S. scientists resigned their jobs rather than give in to White House pressure to underreport global warming. and removed key portions of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report given to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about the dangers to human health of global warming.
The Bush Administration worked to undermine state efforts to mitigate global warming. Mary Peters, the Transportation Secretary at that time, personally directed US efforts to urge governors and dozens of members of the House of Representatives to block California's first-in-the-nation limits on greenhouse gases from cars and trucks, according to e-mails obtained by Congress.
|This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (July 2011)|
New Energy for America is a plan to invest in renewable energy, reduce reliance on foreign oil, address the global climate crisis, and make coal a less competitive energy source. It was announced during Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
The president has established a new office in the White House, the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, and selected Carol Browner as Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. Browner is a former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is currently a principal of The Albright Group LLC, a firm that provides strategic advice to companies .
American Clean Energy and Security Act, a cap and trade bill was passed on June 26, 2009 in the House of Representatives, but was not passed by the Senate.
On January 27, 2009, Secretary of State Clinton appointed Todd Stern as the department's Special Envoy for Climate Change. Clinton said, "With the appointment today of a special envoy we are sending an unequivocal message that the United States will be energetic, focused, strategic and serious about addressing global climate change and the corollary issue of clean energy." Stern, who had coordinated global warming policy in the late 1990s under the Bill Clinton administration, said that "The time for denial, delay and dispute is over.... We can only meet the climate challenge with a response that is genuinely global. We will need to engage in vigorous, dramatic diplomacy."
In February 2009, Stern said that the U.S. would take a lead role in the formulation of a new climate change treaty in Copenhagen in December 2009. He made no indication that the U.S. would ratify the Kyoto Protocol in the meantime. US Embassy dispatches subsequently released by whistleblowing site WikiLeaks showed how the US 'used spying, threats and promises of aid' to gain support for the Copenhagen Accord, under which its emissions pledge is the lowest by any leading nation.
President Barack Obama said in September 2009 that if the international community would not act swiftly to deal with climate change that "we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe...The security and stability of each nation and all peoples—our prosperity, our health, and our safety—are in jeopardy, and the time we have to reverse this tide is running out." 
President Obama said in 2010 that it was time for the United States "to aggressively accelerate" its transition from oil to alternative sources of energy and vowed to push for quick action on climate change legislation, seeking to harness the deepening anger over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The 2010 United States federal budget proposed to support clean energy development with a 10-year investment of US $15 billion per year, generated from the sale of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions credits. Under the proposed cap-and-trade program, all GHG emissions credits would be auctioned off, generating an estimated $78.7 billion in additional revenue in FY 2012, steadily increasing to $83 billion by FY 2019.
Obama made reference to action on global warming in his Second inaugural address:
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. (Applause.) Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.
Data from an April 2013 report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), showed a 12% reduction in American carbon dioxide emissions in the 2005 to 2012 period. Just over half of this decrease has been attributed to the recession, and the rest to a variety of factors such as replacing coal-based power generation with natural gas and increasing energy efficiency of American vehicles (according to Council of Economic Advisors analysis).
State and local policy
Across the country, regional organizations, states, and cities are achieving real emissions reductions and gaining valuable policy experience as they take action on climate change. These actions include increasing renewable energy generation, selling agricultural carbon sequestration credits, and encouraging efficient energy use. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program is a joint program of over twenty U.S. cabinet departments and federal agencies, all working together to investigate climate change. In June 2008, a report issued by the program stated that weather would become more extreme, due to climate change.
States and municipalities often function as "policy laboratories", developing initiatives that serve as models for federal action. This has been especially true with environmental regulation—most federal environmental laws have been based on state models. In addition, state actions can have a significant impact on emissions, because many individual states emit high levels of greenhouse gases. Texas, for example, emits more than France, while California's emissions exceed those of Brazil. State actions are also important because states have primary jurisdiction over many areas—such as electric generation, agriculture, and land use—that are critical to addressing climate change.
It is important to understand that states have limited resources to devote to the climate issue, and their strict budget requirements can put long-term climate policies in jeopardy. States also lack certain powers that would be crucial to a comprehensive climate change policy, such as the authority to enter into international agreements. Finally, when states take individual approaches on the issue, a "patchwork quilt" of policies can result across the nation. This patchwork of policies may be inefficient for complying business and may result in some states duplicating the work done in other states. While some states are delivering real reductions of GHG emissions only in a few cases do the reduction targets commensurate with what will be needed on a global scale.
Comprehensive climate plans combined with enforecable GHG emissions targets provide the highest certainty of significant emission reductions. Twenty-eight states have climate action plans and nine have state-wide emission targets. The states of California and New Mexico have committed most recently to emission reductions targets, joining New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Washington and Oregon.
Regional initiatives can be more efficient than programs at the state level, as they encompass a broader geographical area, eliminate duplication of work, and create more uniform regulatory environments. Over the past few years, a number of regional initiatives have begun developing systems to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, increase renewable energy generation, track renewable energy credits, and research and establish baselines for carbon sequestration.
On September 8, 2006, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano signed an executive order calling on the state to create initiatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions to the 2000 level by the year 2020 and to 50 percent below the 2000 level by 2040.
In January 2013, NOAA granted Arizona and New Mexico approximately $3.5 million to be spent over the next five years for plans to adapt to global warming effects. "The southwest United States has the fastest growing population in the nation, yet cities and tribal lands in Arizona and New Mexico are severely affected by drought," remarked Richard Rosen of NOAA's 'Climate Program Office'.
California (the world's sixth largest economy) has long been seen as the state-level pioneer in environmental issues related to global warming and has shown some leadership in the last four years[when?]. On July 22, 2002, Governor Gray Davis approved AB 1493, a bill directing the California Air Resources Board to develop standards to achieve the maximum feasible and cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gases from motor vehicles. Now the California Vehicle Global Warming law, it requires automakers to reduce emissions by 30% by 2016. Although it has been challenged in the courts by the automakers, support for the law is growing as other states have adopted similar legislation. On September 7, 2002 Governor Davis approved a bill requiring the California Climate Action Registry to adopt procedures and protocols for project reporting and carbon sequestration in forests. (SB 812. Approved by Governor Davis on September 7, 2002) California has convened an interagency task force, housed at the California Energy Commission, to develop these procedures and protocols. Staff are currently seeking input on a host of technical questions.
On June 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order calling for the following reductions in state greenhouse gas emissions: 11 percent by 2010, 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Measures to meet these targets include tighter automotive emissions standards, and requirements for renewable energy as a proportion of electricity production. The Union of Concerned Scientists has calculated that by 2020, drivers would save $26 billion per year if California's automotive standards were implemented nationally.
On August 30, 2006, Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature reached an agreement on AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. The bill was signed into law on September 27, 2006, by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declared, "We simply must do everything we can in our power to slow down global warming before it is too late... The science is clear. The global warming debate is over." The Act caps California's greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2020, and institutes a mandatory emissions reporting system to monitor compliance. This agreement represents the first enforceable state-wide program in the U.S. to cap all GHG emissions from major industries that includes penalties for non-compliance. This requires the State Air Resources Board to establish a program for statewide greenhouse gas emissions reporting and to monitor and enforce compliance with this program. The legislation will also allow for market mechanisms to provide incentives to businesses to reduce emissions while safeguarding local communities, and authorizes the state board to adopt market-based compliance mechanisms including cap-and-trade, and allows a one-year extension of the targets under extraordinary circumstances. Thus far, flexible mechanisms in the form of project based offsets have been suggested for five main project types. A carbon project would create offsets by showing that it has reduced carbon dioxide and equivalent gases. The project types include: manure management, forestry, building energy, SF6, and landfill gas capture.
Additionally, on September 26 Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 107, which requires California's three major biggest utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric – to produce at least 20% of their electricity using renewable sources by 2010. This shortens the time span originally enacted by Gov. Davis in September 2002 to increase utility renewable energy sales 1% annually to 20% by 2017.
Gov. Schwarzenegger also announced he would seek to work with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, and various other international efforts to address global warming, independently of the federal government.
Under AB 32, the California Air Resources Board implemented California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade program (or emissions trading). The program is a central element of California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) and covers major sources of GHG emissions in the State such as refineries, power plants, industrial facilities, and transportation fuels. The regulation includes an enforceable GHG cap starting in January 2013 that will decline over time. ARB will distribute allowances, which are tradable permits, equal to the emission allowed under the cap. The cap will decrease by two percent each year through 2015 and by three percent from 2015 through 2020. Allowances will be allocated to regulated businesses and generally will account for approximately 90 percent of the business’s overall emissions and this percentage will decline over time. For any additional emissions, the business must purchase the necessary allowances at a quarterly auction or from an entity that has excess allowances. Offsets are also allowed for up to eight percent of a business’s compliance obligation. California’s cap and trade program is scheduled to link with programs in Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec through the Western Climate Initiative.
The state of Connecticut passed a number of bills on global warming in the early to mid-1990s, including—in 1990—the first state global warming law to require specific actions for reducing CO2. Connecticut is one of the states that agreed, under the auspices of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP), to a voluntary short-term goal of reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and by 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The NEG/ECP long-term goal is to reduce emissions to a level that eliminates any dangerous threats to the climate—a goal scientists suggest will require reductions 75 to 85 percent below current levels. These goals were announced in August 2001. The state has also acted to require incremental additions in renewable electric generation by 2009.
In 2003, New York State proposed and attained commitments from nine Northeast states to form a cap and trade carbon dioxide emissions program for power generators, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This program launched on January 1, 2009 with the aim to reduce the carbon "budget" of each state's electricity generation sector to 10 percent below their 2009 allowances by 2018. Ten Northeastern US states are involved in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, It is believed that the state-level program will apply pressure on the federal government to support Kyoto Protocol. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cap and trade system for CO2 emissions from power plants in the member states. Emission permit auctioning began in September 2008, and the first three-year compliance period began on January 1, 2009. Proceeds will be used to promote energy conservation and renewable energy. The system affects fossil fuel power plants with 25 MW or greater generating capacity ("compliance entities").
- Participating states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island
- Observer states and regions: Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario.
195 US cities representing more than 50 million Americans – have committed to reducing carbon emissions to 7% below 1990 levels.
Litigation by states
Several lawsuits have been filed over global warming. In 2007 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency the Clean Air Act gives the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, such as tailpipe emissions. A similar approach was taken by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer who filed a lawsuit California v. General Motors Corp. to force car manufacturers to reduce vehicles' emissions of carbon dioxide. A third case, Comer v. Murphy Oil, was filed by Gerald Maples, a trial attorney in Mississippi, in an effort to force fossil fuel and chemical companies to pay for damages caused by global warming.
In June 2011, the United States Supreme Court overturned 8-0 a U.S. appeals court ruling against five big power utility companies, brought by U.S. states, New York City, and Land trusts, attempting to force cuts in United States greenhouse gas emissions regarding global warming. The decision gives deference to reasonable interpretations of the United States Clean Air Act by the Environmental Protection Agency.  
Position of political parties and other political organizations
||This section may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. (March 2011)|
19 of the 20 Republican Senate candidates in the 2010 midterm elections according to a survey by National Journal have taken positions opposed to legislation that would mitigate global warming. The exception is Mark Steven Kirk, the Senate candidate in Illinois, who as a member of the House was one of the few representatives who supported "Cap and Trade". One of the other Republican House members who voted for Cap and Trade, Michael N. Castle of Delaware, was defeated in the Senate primary by a Tea Party candidate. According to the Miami Herald coverage of these elections, "some Republican candidates also are denying that man-made climate change is real". A New York Times analysis of the election results found that "Voters ousted a wide swath of cap-and-trade supporters from Virginia to New Mexico, leaving behind a House highly polarized on energy." However, the candidates' position on cap-and-trade alone was not found to be a determining factor for these results.
Tea Party movement
|This section's factual accuracy is disputed. (November 2010)|
The 2010 midterm elections demonstrated considerable skepticism within the Tea Party movement with respect to the dangers and even the reality of global warming. A New York Times/CBS News Poll during the election revealed that only a small percentage of Tea Party supporters considered global warming a serious problem, much less than the portion of the general public that does. Opposition is particularly strong to Cap and Trade with Tea Party supporters vilifying Democratic office holders who supported efforts to mitigate climate change by emissions trading, which would encourage use of fuels emitting less carbon dioxide.
The corporations producing fossil fuels have for years engaged in public relations work promoting their products and attempting to raise doubts about the need or sensibility of alternatives. They have funded institutions and websites producing reports supporting their viewpoint. According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund since 2009 they have spent $500 million lobbying against climate change legislation and opposing or supporting candidates with respect to their interests. They are supported in their effort by talk show hosts and opinion leaders.
According to FreedomWorks, any effort to make electricity and fuel more expensive or to cap or regulate CO2 will only exacerbate an already critical situation and cause tremendous economic damage.
- Carbon pricing
- Climate change denial
- Climate change in the United States
- Regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act
- The Climate Registry
- Greenhouse gas emissions by the United States
- List of climate change initiatives#North America
- Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Accord
- Politics of the United States
- Public opinion on climate change
- The Republican War on Science
- Scientific opinion on climate change
- Western Climate Initiative
- U.S. Climate Change Science Program
- United States Wind Energy Policy
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