November 20, 2019
The Honorable Kathy Castor The Honorable Garret Graves
Chair Ranking Member
House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis
H2-359 Ford Building H2-361 Ford Building
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chair Castor and Ranking Member Graves:
Thank you for soliciting stakeholder policy recommendations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis.
To achieve national net-zero emissions by mid-century, CRES Forum proposes a 10-year revenue neutral federal policy strategy. Our strategy is characterized by a focus on reducing clean energy costs for Americans and U.S. business. It is also focused on increasing all possible technological options available to avoid, reduce, capture and sequester greenhouse gases. As a result, locally appropriate solutions can be implemented quickly not just in the U.S., but globally.
Our strategy builds off traditional federal and state roles in the energy sector, therefore we believe it is politically expedient, market-friendly, and durable climate policy.
The four pillars of our strategy are:
1. STRENGTHEN PRICE SIGNALS FOR MARKETS. Congress should provide certainty to energy developers and investors by establishing a federal carbon avoidance and sequestration price through a 10-year tax incentive program. The goal of the incentives should be revised from support for early-stage technologies to reducing greenhouse gases to address climate change—and measuring the results. Therefore, Congress should:
- Harmonize tax credits (ITC PTC) for renewables, energy storage, and nuclear to create effective technological neutrality
- Expand the carbon capture utilization and sequestration credit (45Q) to include eligibility for terrestrial sequestration (e.g., forests management, afforestation, and on-farm practices)
- Expand and reform tax credits for home and commercial energy efficiency, and electric vehicles
- Establish tax incentives in order to diversify investment opportunities in zero-emissions technologies for individuals, investment funds and small banks (e.g., mutual funds and retirement funds)
2. EMPOWER STATES, MUNICIPALITIES, BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUAL CONSUMERS TO ACT. Cooperative federalism is a hallmark of American environmental policy. The federal government can enable rapid emissions reductions by empowering states and municipalities to adopt locally appropriate policy and improving carbon emissions information for businesses and individuals. Therefore, Congress should:
- Establish a voluntary framework and common carbon accounting system for use by the private sector, states, and municipalities. The voluntary framework should track carbon emissions, facilitate the exchange of carbon credits, and track emissions avoidance and reductions through renewable energy purchases and energy efficiency
- Establish a program for certified greenhouse gas emissions offsets for agriculture and land-use carbon offsets
3. INCREASE FUNDING FOR DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY INNOVATION PROGRAMS, EXPEDITE GRID MODERNIZATION, AND REDUCE EMISSIONS ON FEDERAL PROPERTIES. The federal government plays an important role complimenting the private sector by providing finance for energy research and development and pilot programs. Beyond this, the federal government should partner with the private sector to reduce emission from federal properties and better utilize federal lands for grid modernization. Therefore, Congress should:
- Increase funding for the Department of Energy for a period of 10 years with a special focus on investment in innovation programs such as ARPA-E to assure adequate financing for research and the advancement of high-potential, high-impact energy technologies
- Modernize or eliminate regulatory and permitting barriers to competitive procurement, grid interconnection, and hydropower development, and open federal rights of way and lands to transmission projects
- Expand performance contracting to increase energy efficiency and redevelopment on federal properties (e.g., office buildings, military bases, public housing)
4. STRENGTHEN INTERNATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY STANDARDS. To drive global emissions reductions and conservation efforts outside U.S. borders and assure that U.S. purchasing power isn’t “exporting the problem” we must link carbon emissions to trade. Therefore, Congress should:
- Enact a 10-year border carbon adjustment tariff on carbon intensive imports for the purpose of fulfilling domestic decarbonization goals (pursuant to GATT Article XX exceptions). The tariff should be established at the level needed to recover forgone tax revenue from tax incentives and pay for increased programmatic spending. Therefore, this climate change policy proposal is revenue neutral.
- Enact international development policies that result in global emissions reductions through conservation, including afforestation, reforestation, habitat restoration, and cleaning the world’s rivers and oceans.
An all of the above approach to clean energy is the principal reason the U.S. has been able to reduce carbon emissions more than any other country over the past decade. CRES Forum believes that future emissions reductions can be achieved by doubling down and expanding on historically successful policies and approaches, instead of pursuing a federal clean energy standard or carbon pricing policy that would upend the historical rights of states to shape their energy mixes.
Thank you for your leadership on this critical issue. We look forward to working with you.
Director of Policy and Advocacy
Enclosure: Responses to RFI questions (Download PDF)