Global warming legislation passed by the U.S House of Representatives is known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES Act, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill or H.R. 2454 ). It is critical that Congress take action this year to advance global warming solutions and this legislation is a good start, but should also be strengthened.
Emissions Reduction Targets
Global warming is caused by a layer of CO2 and other gases that are creating a blanket around our planet and trapping in too much heat. To combat this, we need to reduce the amount of these gases that we are releasing into the air each year. The House legislation sets targets for reducing these emissions from 2005 levels at:
- 3 percent cut by 2012
- 17 percent cut by 2020
- 42 percent cut by 2030
- 83 percent cut by 2050
The largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions would have to obtain permits to continue releasing their gases, with the number of permits available each year being reduced to meet these cuts. Under the House bill, a portion of these permits would also be auctioned off and the resulting money would be made available to spend on various efforts - currently including work to safeguard our nation's natural resources from the effects of warming.
The House legislation includes a section on initiating and expanding a number of efforts to help reduce the impacts that global warming will have on our communities, our health and our natural resources. Endangered species -and species put at risk of extinction due to global warming - would benefit greatly from these efforts. Basically, these efforts include:
- Creating national and local strategies - A wide-range of stakeholder agencies would work together to create a federal plan for protecting or adapting natural resources, including vulnerable wildlife and plants, to the impacts of global warming and ocean acidification. Government agencies and states would then create their own plans that implements their portions of this plan.
- Ensuring scientific integrity - Centers within NOAA and USGS would help guide adaptation efforts, coordinate needed research, and be a resource for the scientific and technical needs of addressing the impacts of our changing climate.
- Providing resources - The House legislation initially approves spending the equivalent of 1 percent of the potential auction values on natural resources "adaptation" efforts starting in 2012, with the money being used to implement the national and state action plans. This money is distributed across federal agencies, states and tribes. The allocation would bump up to 2 percent in 2022 and then to 4 percent in 2027. It is estimated that this would provide roughly $550 million in 2012 and expand to just over $4 billion by 2030.
As Congress continues to debate global warming legislation, the Endangered Species Coalition will be working to protect and strengthen the provisions safeguarding species. Learn more about our priorities.
The ACES Act was passed out of the House in June. The Senate will be debating their global warming legislation through the Fall and our efforts to strengthen the bill are now focused there.
For more information on the many, many other portions of this legislation, check out:
House Energy Committee bill summary (6pg. pdf, 06/02/09)
Grists "Everything you always wanted to know about the Waxman-Markey energy/climate bill-in bullet points "