The companies and trade associations in the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) a few days ago agreed that tackling climate change will revitalize U.S. industry and grow the U.S. economy by expanding the use of clean technologies. The group released a number of recommendations regarding action the federal government can take to address climate change, in response to an open letter the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change sent on January 31 to the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) and others.
In its original letter, the Task Force stated that “the window to prevent catastrophic climate change is rapidly closing,” and asked for suggestions on how federal agencies could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve resilience to climate change. It also requested ideas for how Congress could strengthen federal agencies in their response to climate change.
Referring to its recently released Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook, BCSE replied that comprehensive market-based legislation would be the “optimal policy,” but recommended a number of measures that can be taken in the meantime. Many of the BCSE’s suggestions for action concern the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including:
- Use the flexibility under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to allow existing power plants to achieve target emission rates.
- Use an output-based approach to setting emissions standards for New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) of greenhouse gases.
Aside from suggestions for the EPA, BCSE also recommended measures that the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the federal government, and Congress can and should take, including:
- DOE should implement efficiency measures, including appliance and equipment standards, manufactured housing efficiency standards, and previously announced programs for commercial buildings.
- The federal government should follow through on commitments made in the White House Executive Order 13514, including making greater use of federal performance contracting, aggregating procurements within federal agencies, between federal agencies, and leveraged with state and local government procurements, and clarify that Combined Heat and Power (CHP) qualifies under this executive order.
- Federal agencies should support efforts to strengthen the smart grid, especially distributed generation at disaster centers, hospitals, etc., and should implement and update climate change adaptation plans to improve resilience.
- Congress should continue to support research, development and deployment of homegrown and clean energy sources. More specifically Congress should support funding for energy efficiency (of buildings, industrial technologies, vehicles, and advanced manufacturing), and the “wise, safe and efficient” development of natural gas.
BCSE called for Congress and federal agencies to continue supporting successful technologies and programs like CHP, smart grid, and efficiency measures. The Council also urged federal agencies to follow through on previous commitments and exercise the authority provided to them by Congress to implement existing provisions, such as those in the SAVE Act. Combined together, these recommendations would allow for “significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
Julius Fischer is an intern with the Energy Team at Center for American Progress.