American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009

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Climate/United States > American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009

American Clean Energy and Security Act supporters rally in front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on 24 June 2009 to show their support for the proposed climate legislation.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES), H.R. 2454, a major piece of legislation in the United States, addresses renewable energy, climate change and related issues. This bill was passed by the by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on 21 May 2009[1] and the full House of Representatives on 26 June 2009 by a vote of 219-212.[2] Passage of this legislation by the Senate, as advocated by President Obama, is likely to a have a significant influence on the American economy and industry (such as through the promotion of investment in new "clean" energy technologies), and will have a major influence on the negotiating position of the United States in the international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Impact on land use

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) is projected to have important impacts on land use and related issues in the United States




  • Magically carbon neutral biomass, evil EPA rules and other myths, 18 June 2010 by Nathanael Greene on the NRDC Switchboard blog: "The [biomass] industry has convinced policymakers that no matter how much carbon is 'spent' when biomass is burned for energy, there will magically be enough income in the form of regrowth to cover all expenses. Because of this magic, the industry would have us categorically exclude their emissions when we do our carbon accounting."
    • Recent climate and energy bills "buy into this magically carbon neutral source of energy. The European Union has done it too."
    • "So how did the biomass industry and its supporters...react recently when EPA said it was going to account for the emissions column of the ledger as part of its rules governing which facilities will be covered by the Clean Air Act? Sadly, with willful misinterpretation."
    • A recent Massachusetts report "makes it very clear that most forest biomass is not carbon neutral."
    • "The ultimate solution is a comprehensive climate and energy bill that requires careful accounting of all carbon, including the carbon released and absorbed by biomass."[3]
  • New Energy Coalition Calls for Passage of Clean Energy Bill, 16 June 2010 by American Wind Energy Association (AWEA): "On the heels of President Obama's June 15 speech calling for clean energy legislation, a new coalition of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and biofuels organizations today called on the U.S. Senate to quickly pass comprehensive energy legislation that will create millions of American jobs and decrease our reliance on foreign supplies of fossil fuels by using our own clean and abundant resources."
    • Members of the coalition include "the Biomass Power Association, Growth Energy, the Energy Recovery Council," and others. A letter issued by this coalition reads in part:
      • "We urge that the Senate move quickly to consider legislation promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and biofuels, along with associated manufacturing opportunities."
      • "Important programs affecting renewable energy industries, energy efficiency initiatives and biofuels programs are all due to expire this year."
      • "Ensuring steady growth of the industries that will solve our climate, water, and waste challenges will be a critical way to address not only near-term employment challenges but our long-term environmental and energy security goals. Renewable energy, energy efficiency, and biofuels can make a significant down payment on carbon pollution targets."[4]
  • Rainforests Lose Out in Senate's New Climate Bill, 18 May 2010 by Time: "The climate bill passed by the House of Representatives last June set an ambitious goal of conserving the carbon trapped in forests equal to 10% of U.S. emissions, and in doing so, set aside 5% of total emissions allowance value from carbon auctions, which could bring $3 to $5 billion a year, to the protection of forests in developing nations."
    • "But while the Kerry-Lieberman bill in the Senate has the same broad goal for conserving forests, it devotes no specific funds to stopping deforestation."
    • "The Senate bill also excludes private sector investment in rainforest conservation for the next 10 years. Under the House bill, private companies that invest in rainforest offsets — paying to keep trees standing in tropical countries — could generally claim credits against their carbon cap. Under the Senate bill, they won't be able to do so, for the most part, unless tropical nations already have a national or state-level deforestation cap in place, which will likely take years to develop."
    • "That's a major blow to the development of a global conservation process called REDD...which would allow developed countries to invest in rainforest protection in the tropical world in exchange for carbon credits."
    • "Although the Senate bill does give the President the authority to designate up to 5% of carbon revenue to deforestation or other international aims within the context of a global deal, which is meaningful, it's not as effective as specifically dedicating money to stop deforestation. Further, limiting REDD in a U.S. climate bill could make getting a global deal — already a near impossible challenge — even tougher. REDD was one of the few areas that showed glimmers of promise at the chaotic U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen last December....But as the Senate bill stands now, REDD could end up dead."[5]


  • Can Dirt Really Save Us From Global Warming?, 3 September 2009 by NPR: "This month the Senate is set to take up the climate and energy bill that Congress began work on last spring. One provision will likely set up a system to pay farmers for something called 'no-till farming.'"
    • "The concept: When crops are planted without tilling, the soil holds more carbon, which means less goes up into the atmosphere."
    • "But scientists aren't sure no-till really sequesters carbon any better than conventional farming....Researchers have discovered that when you dig down three feet or so, plowed fields hold just as much — if not more — carbon than no-till."(Audio also available)
  • Climate bill a farm income boost, USDA estimates, 22 July 2009 by Reuters: "U.S. farmers and foresters could earn more money from carbon contracts than they pay in higher costs from legislation to control greenhouse gases, the Agriculture Department estimated on Wednesday."
    • "USDA's "preliminary analysis" was one of the first attempts at a broad-spectrum examination of the House-passed climate bill. Most of its 13 pages were devoted to grains, cotton and soybeans. Limited space went to livestock and none to fruits and vegetables."
    • "Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the House climate bill would increase farm expenses by $700 million, or 0.3 percent, from 2012-18. That would be offset by revenue from a carbon offset market, estimated by USDA at $1 billion a year in the near term and $15 billion in 2040. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said offsets would be worth nearly $3 billion a year in 2020 for farms, ranches and forests."
    • "Beyond that, said Vilsack, is income from biofuels, worth a net return of at least $600 million a year."
    • "The EPA estimates U.S. cropland accounts for 6 percent of greenhouse gas emissions but growing vegetation removes 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere."[6]
  • Carbon Offsets and the Emerging Climate Coalition, 9 July 2009 by the Brookings Institution: "In the context of a cap-and-trade program — the centerpiece of the Waxman-Markey bill and probably any Senate package — farm-state concerns largely boil down to concerns about the treatment of carbon offsets, credits that could be awarded for activities outside of capped sectors, like sequestration of carbon in managed forests or in agricultural soils. Such credits could potentially provide a steady stream of revenue back to regions of the country that have historically been slower to warm to the idea of cap-and-trade."
    • "Keep in mind that, in practice, any number of problems could threaten the integrity of an offset project. For example, carbon could physically leak out if attention to a given project lets up in the future (a problem referred to as 'non-permanence') or the project could shift carbon-intensive activities elsewhere (a problem referred to as economic 'leakage')."[7]
  • Climate change bill to hit House floor this week, 22 June 2009 by TipSheet: Sources anticipate that the American Clean Energy and Security Act, deemed a "historic climate change and clean energy jobs bill” by its supporters, will go up for vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday 26 June 2009.
    • "Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has brokered enough of a pact with wary Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) to pave the way for a bill to be voted on by week’s end. But it remains to be seen whether the measure has the votes to pass. Most Republicans are expected to reject the bill, while some conservative Democrats, such as Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.) and Gene Taylor (Miss.), are firmly against it."
  • For climate change bill, hard part starts now, 31 May 2009 by San Francisco Chronicle: "To get the climate change initiative to the House floor - and ultimately passed by the chamber - Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, must first run it through a gantlet of eight congressional committees headed by fellow Democrats who claim a piece of the action."
    • " [The] 46-member Agriculture poised to make major alterations of the climate change plan, including overhauling the way the Environmental Protection Agency calculates the greenhouse gas emissions from alternative fuels made from corn and other plant make sure that when corn and other crops are made into biofuels, they qualify as low-carbon fuels under federal mandates."
    • "...corn-based ethanol advocates are worried about an EPA proposal to include 'indirect land use' changes - such as the clearing of forest for new farmlands - as part of any calculations on the carbon footprint of biofuels."
    • "Republicans...have largely united against the legislation, which they say would impose a hefty 'energy tax' on every U.S. business and consumer."
  • Forests and the Planet, 28 May 2009 editorial in The New York Times: It is critical that "the right incentives [are put] in place — first as part of broad climate change legislation in the United States, then as part of a new global treaty that the world’s nations hope to negotiate" in Copenhagen in December 2009.
    • "Deforestation accounts for one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — about the same as China’s emissions, more than the emissions generated by all of the world’s cars and trucks."
    • "An estimated 30 million acres of rain forest disappear every year, destroying biodiversity and pouring billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."
    • The 2009 U.S. global warming bill "now working its way through the [U.S. House of Representatives] seeks to change this destructive dynamic in two ways. It sets up a carbon trading system that is expected to raise upward of $60 billion annually through the sale of pollution allowances. Five percent of that would be set aside to help prevent deforestation, either through a special international fund or as bilateral grants to poor countries."[8]
  • Democrats Unveil Climate Bill, 31 March 2009 by The New York Times: U.S. House of Representatives' Henry A. Waxman of California and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts "unveiled a far-reaching bill to cap heat-trapping gases and quicken the [United States]’s move away from dependence on coal and oil."[9]

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