Climate Change

The 114th Congress, which convened in January 2015, has seen several bills addressing climate-related issues introduced in the U.S. House and Senate.  Many relate to the Obama Administration’s proposed carbon emission limits for new, modified, reconstructed and existing electric generating units under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act. The 114th Congress has also seen comprehensive legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a carbon tax.  More information on the bills that have received significant attention is provided below.

H.R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act of 2015, authorizes states to delay or avoid implementing EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.  If enacted, states could delay CPP compliance until all legal challenges to the rule are resolved or avoid compliance altogether if they can show certain “significant adverse impacts” due to the rule.

The Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act would rescind EPA’s proposed rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new, modified and reconstructed, and existing power plants and add new requirements should EPA re-propose emission standards for those sources under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act.  Further, the bill would allow states to delay implementing future 111(d) rules limiting power plant carbon dioxide emissions until after all legal challenges are resolved and allow states to opt out of compliance entirely if they can show certain “negative impacts” due to the rule.

S. 1548, the American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act of 2015, seeks to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions through a carbon tax.  The legislation would apply a fee for each ton carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent emitted, produced, or imported by certain regulated groups.  The bill’s cosponsors estimate that it could reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

The Energy Sovereignty Act would strike Clean Air Act Section 115, which targets air pollutants “emitted in the United States [that] cause or contribute to air pollution which may be reasonably anticipated to endanger public health or 3 welfare in a foreign country.”