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Idea of the Day: The American Clean Energy and Security Act

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The American Clean Energy and Security Act, authored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) and House Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chair Ed Markey (D-MA) would achieve a significant reduction in the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. The ACES mandates a 17-percent reduction in greenhouse gases below 2005 levels by 2020. That translates into a cut of 2.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020 compared to inaction, according to a projection based on an analysis by the World Resources Institute. This is comparable to taking 500 million cars off the road, which is twice the number of U.S. cars today, and half the cars expected in the world in 2020.

This pollution reduction estimate is very conservative, since it does not include other complementary policies in the bill that would also reduce greenhouse gases. These provisions include renewable electricity and efficiency standards that would give utilities until 2020 to generate 15 percent of their electricity from the wind, sun, and other clean sources. Utilities would also have to reduce electricity demand by 5 percent. These measures would further reduce greenhouse gas pollutions.

The ACES would also slash energy use in new buildings by 50 percent by 2016. Buildings are responsible for nearly half of energy use and greenhouse gas pollution, so this provision would achieve additional reductions beyond the cap.

On Monday, May 18, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will begin debate and vote on The American Clean Energy and Security Act. It is not a perfect proposal that will magically solve our energy problems. But it would slash global warming pollution and create thousands of jobs manufacturing steel for wind turbines and building energy-efficient buildings. ACES would reduce our oil use and increase our national security. Representatives Waxman and Markey have done monumental work to start on the long road to a clean-energy future after being stalled for the last eight years.

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This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

For more from the same column, click here