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Emissions Reductions Under Pollution Reduction Proposals in the 111th U.S. Congress

This analysis provides an assessment of reductions in net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to total U.S. emissions that could be achieved by pollution reduction proposals currently under consideration in the 111th Congress. A full description of the methods and assumptions behind this analysis can be found in the Appendix of the PDF document.

Key Findings

Executive Summary

This analysis provides an assessment of net reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to total U.S. emissions that could be achieved by pollution reduction proposals currently under consideration in the 111th Congress. This assessment is an update to a previous analysis WRI released on December 17, 2009, and includes an analysis of the American Power Act (APA), introduced as a discussion draft on May 12, 2010 by Senators Kerry and Lieberman. The APA draft is compared against S. 2877, the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act (CLEARA) as introduced by Senators Cantwell and Collins, and H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA) sponsored by Representatives Waxman and Markey, as passed by the House of Representatives June 26, 2009.

To account for the effects of different design elements among the analyzed bills, GHG reduction estimates are divided into three scenarios, which are consistently applied as appropriate to all proposals examined in this analysis:

  • Total emissions reductions achieved solely by the proposed emissions caps.
  • Total emissions reductions achieved by proposed caps and all other complementary requirements, such as emissions performance standards for uncapped sources, allowances set-asides for cost containment, and required components of supplemental reduction programs, as applicable.
  • A range of potential additional reductions that could be achieved through incentives and other measures, such as domestic supplemental reductions and requirements for the use of more than one offset for compliance, as applicable.

To summarize, this analysis depicts reductions within the cap and any additional measures that will achieve emissions reductions through the passage and implementation of each proposal. Reductions that would require additional congressional action to be realized are not included in the analysis.

Estimates of Total Net GHG

Emissions and Emissions Reductions Achieved by Pollution Reduction Proposals in the 111th Congress, 2005-2050 presents a table of total net GHG reductions that could be achieved by these proposals for selected years.

Download the PDF above for a full description of the methods and assumptions behind this analysis.

Table 1. Estimates of Total Net GHG Emissions & Emissions Reductions Achieved by Pollution Reduction Proposals in the 111th U.S. Congress
Absolute Emissions
(Millions Metric Tons CO2eq)
201020122020203020402050
Business as usual emissions 7,1207,1857,3907,7658,1028,379
Short-term projected emissions6,685
CLEARA (S. 2877) Emissions caps only7,1857,0515,7113,9812,645
ACESA (H.R. 2454) Emissions caps only6,9936,1064,5563,2681,963
ACESA (H.R. 2454) Caps plus all complementary requirements6,9465,1324,2923,0431,779
ACESA (H.R. 2454) Potential range of additional reductions6,9464,7573,8142,6231,383
APA Emissions Caps only7,1856,1064,5563,2681,963
APA Caps plus all complementary requirements7,1856,0304,3793,1541,911
APA Potential range of additional reductions7,1855,7804,1292,9041,661
Percent change from 2005 emissions201020122020203020402050
Business as usual emissions 01491418
Short-term projected emissions-6
CLEARA (S. 2877) Emissions caps only1-1-20-44-63
ACESA (H.R. 2454) Emissions caps only-2-14-36-54-72
ACESA (H.R. 2454) Caps plus all complementary requirements-2-28-40-57-75
ACESA (H.R. 2454) Potential range of additional reductions-2-33-46-63-81
APA Emissions Caps only1-14-36-54-72
APA Caps plus all complementary requirements1-15-38-56-73
APA Potential range of additional reductions1-19-42-59-77
Percent change from 1990 emissions201020122020203020402050
Business as usual emissions 171821273337
Short-term projected emissions10
CLEARA (S. 2877) Emissions caps only1816-6-35-57
ACESA (H.R. 2454) Emissions caps only150-25-46-68
ACESA (H.R. 2454) Caps plus all complementary requirements14-16-30-50-71
ACESA (H.R. 2454) Potential range of additional reductions14-22-37-57-77
APA Emissions Caps only180-25-46-68
APA Caps plus all complementary requirements18-1-28-48-69
APA Potential range of additional reductions18-5-32-52-73
Bills analyzed include the American Power Act (APA) introduced as a discussion draft by Senators Kerry and Lieberman and S. 2877, the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act (CLEARA) as introduced by Senators Cantwell and Collins, and H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA) sponsored by Representatives Waxman and Markey, as passed by the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009. "Business as usual" emission projections are from EPA’s reference case for its analysis of the ACESA. "Short-term projected emissions" represent EIA's most recent estimates of emissions for 2008-2010. CLEARA sets economy-wide reduction targets beginning with a 20 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020. However, additional action by Congress would be required before these targets could be met. Reduction estimates do not include emissions above the cap that could occur due to the safety valve. Reduction estimates assume all offsets are real, verifiable, additional and permanent. If they are not, emissions would be greater than the estimates provided here, depending on offset quality and the quantity used for compliance.

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