Policy Solutions: Legislative Analyses

All Legislative Analyses

The American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act is a Step to Building our Clean Energy Future
Legislative Analysis
Senator Markey's legislation to establish a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) and standalone Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) would put in place key tools in the fight to address dangerous climate change. In order to meet our generational obligation to cut carbon pollution our nation must transition from polluting fossil fuels to clean energy sources like wind, solar, and energy efficiency. The American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act will promote clean energy sources that cut carbon pollution, further expand our powerful clean energy economy which currently employs hundreds of thousands of American workers, drive innovation, and provide a strong market signal that the future lies in clean, renewable energy developed here in America. Get document in pdf.
America’s Underwater Parks
The Marine Life Protection Act Safeguards Our Special Undersea Places
Fact Sheet
More than 130 years ago, the United States began to protect our most treasured areas on land by creating National Parks. Now, California has extended that kind of protection to special marine areas by creating underwater parks. In December 2012, the state completed a network of marine parks along its entire coast to help sustain and revitalize the rich web of ocean life. Get document in pdf.
It's Time to Build an Economy that is Stronger, Cleaner, Healthier, and Made to Last
Legislative Analysis
Clean energy and energy efficiency have provided a robust source for economic growth and innovation during difficult times and we should not reverse course. The impending budget sequester and expiring tax incentives will significantly reduce investment In technologies like wind and solar power, electric vehicles and weatherization. This will harm efforts to create new jobs, invent new technologies, and reduce energy costs while incentivizing utilities to pursue dirtier energy at the expense of health and the environment. Congress should close tax loopholes that are no longer needed, not cut programs that are already revitalizing the economy. Get document in pdf.
State Hydraulic Fracturing Disclosure Rules and Enforcement: A Comparison
Legislative Analysis
This analysis provides a comprehensive comparison of existing disclosure requirements for states with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations. It finds more than half of the states with hydraulic fracturing activity currently have no disclosure requirements at all. Of the existing state rules, none provide comprehensive disclosure. Enforcement of state rules is also found to be uneven.
Closer than You Think
Latest U.S. CO2 Pollution Data and Forecasts Show Target Within Reach
Legislative Analysis
Despite Congress' failure to enact comprehensive energy and climate legislation, surprising progress has been made in reducing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions during the last few years.
Keeping Our Waters Safe:
The 112th Congress Must Not Strip the EPA’s Duty to Protect Our Waters from Pesticides
Legislative Analysis
Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers pesticides that can be sold and used in the United States. When the EPA approves a pesticide under FIFRA, however, it merely concludes that its use “will not generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” As the growing evidence of pesticide-contaminated waters shows, FIFRA and its labeling requirements are insufficient to protect many waters across the country. Only the Clean Water Act specifically aims to restore the most polluted waters or protect pristine waters from contamination. Despite this, special interest efforts—pushed by the chemical companies—are underway in Congress to undermine the Clean Water Act by exempting pesticide applications from the protections and safeguards of water quality monitoring and permits. Get document in pdf.
Coal in a Changing Climate
This index collects policy documents about the implications of the world's reliance on coal.
This index collects policy documents about the implications of the world's reliance on coal.
Oppose the REINS Act: H.R. 10/S.299
Legislative Analysis
The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (“REINS”) Act (H.R. 10/S. 299), introduced by Rep. Davis (R-KY) and Sen. Paul (R-KY), would undo more than 100 years of safeguards by allowing just one chamber of Congress to block enforcement of existing statutory protections -- from worker safety, to public health, to Wall Street reform. This would make Congress the required arbiter of every technical question and business dispute, and would allow a single chamber of Congress to stop any regulation, no matter what the facts showed. The REINS Act would effectively rewrite virtually every environmental and other regulatory statute, making their requirements unenforceable. Get document in pdf.
Reject the REINS Act: H.R. 10/S. 299
Legislative Analysis
The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny ("REINS") Act (H.R. 10/S. 299), introduced by Rep. Davis (R-KY) and Sen. Paul (R-KY), would fundamentally change the U.S. process for putting public safeguards into effect, upending a system that has protected the public for more than 100 years. The bill is designed to make it extraordinarily difficult to protect the public and to make the decision-making process far more political. The REINS Act would make the public less safe. Get document in pdf.
Reject BP Oil Disaster Amnesia Bills
H.R. 1229, H.R. 1230, and H.R. 1231
Legislative Analysis
One year ago, the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 workers, spilling 170 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and wreaking havoc on the environment. However, rather than seeking to prevent future disasters, H.R. 1229, 1230, and 1231 accelerate the very processes that the President's National Oil Spill Commission found led to the BP disaster. The three drill-at-all-cost bills would weaken the system for overseeing oil drilling that was in effect before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and mandate new drilling in sensitive ocean areas off virtually every coast. Get document in pdf.
The Clean Air Act at 40
A Clear Track Record of Success
Legislative Analysis
The Clean Air Act is a genuine American success story and one of the most effective tools in U.S. history for protecting public health. It has sharply reduced pollution from automobiles, industrial smokestacks, utility plants, and major sources of toxic chemicals and particulate matter since its passage in 1970. The law has saved tens of thousands of lives each year by reducing harmful pollutants that cause or contribute to asthma, emphysema, heart disease, and other potentially lethal respiratory ailments. Despite continued gloom-and-doom forecasts by polluters and their corporate lobbyists, the Clean Air Act has consistently provided huge health, economic, and environmental benefits to our communities over the past four decades that far outweigh any small costs associated with controlling life-threatening toxic pollution.
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Oppose Efforts to Roll Back Light Bulb Efficiency Standards
Standards Do Not Ban Incandescent Bulbs, But Can Deliver American Families Savings of More Than $100 Per Year
Legislative Analysis
Several bills, including the BULB Act (S. 395 & H.R. 91), have been introduced to repeal or undermine energy efficiency standards for new screw-based light bulbs. Doing so would increase household energy bills, stifle innovation that is creating U.S. jobs, and increase air pollution that harms human health and the environment. Get document in pdf.
Clean Energy Innovation
A Clean Energy Deployment Administration Will Spur Domestic Clean Energy Production
Legislative Analysis
Well designed government support for clean energy innovation has the potential to increase U.S. energy independence and promote innovation and green jobs while reducing global warming pollution. Currently, financing provisions to support clean energy deployment are critically absent from the government's portfolio. The Clean Energy Financing Title of the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 (ACELA, S. 1462 in the last Congress) passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year provides a framework for a Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA) to assist proven technologies in moving beyond the "valley of death" between demonstration-scale and commercial-scale projects. Critical changes, however, must be made to this legislation to ensure that CEDA's supports home-grown energy technology innovations that are truly clean and are so new that they need government assistance, and that the program includes taxpayer protections. Get document in pdf.
Clean Air Standards Will Cut Toxic Air Pollution from Industrial Plants and Save More Than 5,000 Lives Each Year
Legislative Analysis
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed emissions standards to control toxic air pollution from industrial plant boilers, which burn various fuels to produce steam used to generate electricity or heat for industrial operations. The EPA's proposed standards will require these boilers to limit toxic air pollutants including mercury, lead, arsenic, formaldehyde, benzene, dioxins, and acid gases. Get document in pdf.
Congress Must Protect Children from a Developmental Toxic: Bisphenol A (BPA)
Fact Sheet
When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976, it was intended to ensure that chemicals are safe throughout their lifecycle, from manufacture to use and disposal. But weaknesses in the law have left the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unable to act on known health dangers. Other laws, such as those setting air, water, and workplace safety standards, do not adequately regulate exposure to most chemicals, nor do they address the hazards a chemical may pose over its entire lifecycle. New legislation is needed to rapidly reduce exposure to toxic chemicals, such as Bisphenol A (BPA). Produced at more than 2 billion pounds per year, BPA has found its way into many consumer products and into many people's bodies. Get document in pdf.
The Clean Air Act
40 Years of Science-Based Public Health Protection
Legislative Analysis

The Clean Air Act was designed to curb air pollutants and address new dangers as they are identified by modern science. Some critics claim that EPA needs direction from Congress before responding to new pollution threats, like the gases that contribute to global warming. But as the Supreme Court affirmed in Massachusetts v. EPA, Congress directed EPA to act on the science without waiting for legislators to pass new laws. By acting on global warming pollutants, the EPA is following the law and the science just as Congress intended.

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Now is the Time to Reform the Toxic Substances Control Act
Legislative Analysis
For decades, Americans have assumed that laws are in place to require testing of chemicals for safety and to keep unsafe chemicals out of the products we use every day. Unfortunately, the failure of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to regulate the chemical industry and protect the public from exposure to unsafe chemicals, proves this assumption wrong. Congress must enact strong legislation to reform TSCA and ensure the safety of chemicals in the home, the workplace, and the marketplace. Get document in pdf.
An Energy Bill Without a Carbon Cap Could Do More Harm than Good
Legislative Analysis
America needs comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that will cap carbon pollution, create jobs with investments in clean energy, and increase our national security by reducing oil imports. These are urgent matters; halfway measures that would divert time and attention that should be spent on taking effective action need to be taken off the table. Congress needs to reject measures that appear to address the problem but could actually increase global warming pollution. A bill that deals solely with energy could make global warming pollution worse, would fall short on jobs and national security, and would cost taxpayers more than a comprehensive bill. An “energy-only” proposal is not the way to move forward. Get document in pdf.
Federal Climate Bills Can Retool the U.S. Auto Industry and Make It More Competitive
Legislative Analysis
Comprehensive energy legislation that includes a cap on global warming pollution will speed development of a new energy economy based on efficiency and clean energy. The automobile manufacturing industry can prosper from these changes if it shifts production from gas guzzlers to cleaner and more efficient cars and trucks. The climate protection bills passed by the House and being considered in the Senate can fund a rapid transition to clean vehicle manufacturing. When combined with strengthened fuel economy and pollution standards, the bills can ensure that U.S. manufacturers are producing the next generation of vehicles that consumers want. Get document in pdf.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES)
Legislation to build the clean energy future
Index of Fact Sheets
The American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill, has the major ingredients to generate millions of jobs, break our dependence on oil and reduce the pollution that causes global warming. Comprehensive energy and climate legislation will create the incentives necessary to build the clean energy economy and help make America a leader for the 21st century.
Summary of Energy and Transportation Provisions in the Economic Recovery Bill
Legislative Analysis
The economic recovery bill -- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ("ARRA"), H.R. 1 -- makes historic large-scale investments in clean energy resources, which will create jobs, save consumers and businesses money on their energy bills, and help our country begin to make significant reductions in global warming pollution. The bill also includes needed investments in transit and high-speed rail. The clean energy investments in ARRA total about $50 billion, which NRDC estimates will create 1.5 million jobs. In addition, the bill contains $17.7 billion for energy-efficient transportation. Get document in pdf.
Protecting Our Ocean and Coastal Economies
Avoid Unnecessary Risks from Offshore Drilling
Fact Sheet
Healthy oceans are critically important to marine life and to coastal communities whose economies rely on tourism and fishing. Opening up new offshore areas to drilling risks permanent damage to our oceans and beaches without reducing our dependence on oil. When oil spills occur they can bring catastrophic harm to marine life and devastating losses for local businesses. And even routine exploration and drilling activities bring harm to many marine species. The Administration and Congress must work together to assess the environmental impacts of offshore drilling before making key decisions about offshore oil and gas activities in new areas or Alaska. Get document in pdf.
DOs and DON’Ts for Creating Carbon Price Safeguards
Legislative Analysis
As the Senate takes up energy and climate legislation, many are considering the best approach to meet a strong cap on carbon emissions while assuring that carbon allowance prices remain reasonable and that market abuses are prevented. The core tools we need are a means to provide additional allowances to the market without breaking the law’s emissions cap, and a robust set of market regulation safeguards against market abuse. With these tools, Congress can deter price manipulation and place effective limits on prices without compromising the law’s vital climate protection objectives.
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Communities Tackle Global Warming
A Guide to California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375)
Issue Paper
California's Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, SB 375, is the nation's first legislation to link transportation and land use planning with global warming. SB 375 is an important step toward a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous California. Locating housing closer to jobs and transit choices and creating walkable communities can reduce commute times, cut millions of tons of global warming pollution, and improve quality of life.
Making Every Drop Work
Increasing Water Efficiency in California’s Commercial, Industrial and Institutional (CII) Sector
Issue Paper
Across the nation, water shortages are triggering growing concern and an acceleration of efforts to increase water use efficiency. In this May 2009 issue paper, NRDC recommends a number of available and cost-effective measures that can help stretch limited water supplies, save businesses money, reduce energy consumption, improve water quality, and protect local, regional, and statewide ecosystems.
AB 32 and You
How California’s Global Warming Solutions Act Delivers Smart Solutions to Californians
Fact Sheet
California is leading the country in its effort to curb global warming with the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). In December 2008, the California Air Resources Board unanimously adopted the state's plan outlining steps to a cleaner and more prosperous future. This visionary plan, the most comprehensive of its kind, will recharge California's economy, improve public health and air quality, help Californians use energy more efficiently, and make the state the hub of clean energy technology development -- all while curbing global warming. Get document in pdf.
Clean, Low-Emission, Affordable, New Transportation Efficiency Act (CLEAN-TEA)
H.R. 1329 can reduce emissions from transportation
Legislative Analysis
The transportation sector is the second-largest and fastest-growing contributor to global warming pollution in the United States, in large part due to steadily rising number of miles that cars and trucks travel each year. Despite some stagnation in the last year because of the economy, driving -- or the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) rate -- has grown by three times the rate of population growth over the past 15 years and is expected to grow by 40 percent by 2030, largely because we've designed the vast majority of our communities in ways that give people no other option but to drive everywhere. While there has been a federal focus on increasing fuel economy of vehicles and decreasing carbon content in fuels, these strategies alone will not be enough to slow and reverse overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector. The number of miles that vehicles travel is the critical, but often forgotten, "third leg" of the transportation stool. Get document in pdf.
Testimony of Daniel A. Lashof on Addressing Price Volatility in Climate Change Legislation
Before the Committee on Ways and Means, United States House of Representatives, March 26, 2009
While modest allowance price fluctuations are expected and can be beneficial, excessive volatility driven by unnecessary market uncertainty or market manipulation is problematic and should be avoided. This can be accomplished by including the following features in climate legislation: A comprehensive cap covering the broadest feasible set of emission sources; Banking of emission allowances; Effective carbon market regulation; Ample access to high quality offsets; Robust complementary measures to promote energy efficiency, cleaner transportation options, and energy supply technology transformation; An allowance price floor established through a reserve price in the primary allowance auction; A strategic offset and allowance reserve made available at a trigger price set to avoid undue economic harm. Get document in pdf.
Herseth Sandlin Bill (H.R. 1190) Turns Biofuels into Dirty Fuels
Legislative Analysis
Herseth Sandlin Bill (H.R. 1190) Turns Biofuels into Dirty Fuels Current law ensures the Renewable Fuel Standard's five-fold increase in biofuels results in better fuels, not just different dirty fuels. The Herseth Sandlin bill would strike critical safeguards established by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) and turn an important step forward into a counterproductive leap backward. Get document in pdf.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
An Opportunity to Repower America with a Green Economy
Legislative Analysis
The economic recovery package is a first step toward repowering America with green jobs, refueling our nation with clean energy, and rebuilding the country’s aging transportation and water infrastructure. As the bill moves into its final stages, Congress has a great opportunity to make a serious commitment to energy independence, reducing carbon emissions and protecting our environment while also creating millions of new jobs. In order to assure that these goals are met, NRDC supports the inclusion of these provisions in the final American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Get document in pdf.
Support Renewable Energy Grants Program In House Economic Recovery Bill
Legislative Analysis
For almost two decades, production and investment tax credits have been the primary tool used by the federal government to encourage extensive deployment of clean energy technologies such as wind, solar, and geothermal, and the production of high efficiency appliances. Unfortunately, the current economic climate is drastically reducing profits and thus tax liabilities, which is limiting the effectiveness of these tax credits. Without smart federal action, the construction of new renewable power projects and the manufacture and purchase of new, super-efficient appliances will plummet. Get document in pdf.
Investing in Our Recovery
Repowering America with a 'Cap and Invest' Climate Plan
Fact Sheet
We must focus our efforts on an economic recovery plan that provides needed short-term stimulus and lays the groundwork for a stable, long-term recovery. Enacting a cap and trade system to limit global warming pollution is an essential component of a comprehensive plan to repower America. Passing legislation to cap global warming pollution can spur investment, create millions of jobs, and help pull our lagging economy forward by providing the opportunity to borrow against the value of future pollution allowances and creating the market signals needed to trigger a surge of clean energy investments. Get document in pdf.
Cleaning Up Diesel Trucks in California
Millions in Funding Available Each Year
Fact Sheet
Heavy-duty trucks in California are the largest single source of diesel pollution, leading to thousands of illnesses and deaths each year. Pollution from diesel trucks was responsible for roughly 1,500 premature deaths in 2005, and the costs of this loss of life in addition to disease, lost work days, and school absences adds up to $12 billion per year. However, diesel pollution could easily be prevented through upgrades to the existing truck fleet, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is seeking to do just that with the upcoming diesel truck regulation. While truck owners may be wary of the added costs of upgrades that will be required, much funding has been made available by the state to offset those costs. Get document in pdf.
Tax credits for Energy-efficient Commercial Buildings
Extension of the tax credits for energy-efficient commercial buildings, homes, and appliances will save Americans money and reduce global warming pollution
Legislative Analysis
The cheapest, cleanest and quickest response to global warming and high natural gas prices is to target energy efficiency. Studies have shown that energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to reduce global warming pollution.
An Uneven Shield
The Record of Enforcement and Violations Under California's Environmental, Health and Workplace Safety Laws
Issue Paper
California leads the nation in setting standards to protect the health of families, communities and the environment. Yet too little is publicly known about how effectively these standards are enforced. This October 2008 report examines data on known violations and law enforcement responses under six critical pollution, health and safety programs, and finds that enforcement of state environmental and health laws varies widely.
Offshore Drilling Threatens Our Beaches, Oceans, Coastal Communities and Marine Life
Legislative Analysis
President Bush and some members of Congress are pressing to open offshore areas that have been protected from oil drilling for many years, including the east and west coasts and Florida.
Legislative Analysis (Historical): The Climate Security Act, aka the Lieberman-Warner Bill
In June 2008, the U.S. Senate voted on but did not pass legislation to address the climate crisis. This page compiles NRDC analyses of many aspects of that bill. See also our analyses of the current legislation and the benefits of cap-and-trade policies.
California Takes on Power Plant Emissions
SB 1368 Sets Groundbreaking Greenhouse Gas Performance Standard
Fact Sheet
California is ensuring a clean energy future by adopting the world's first greenhouse gas emissions performance standard for power plant investments. Senate Bill SB 368 requires that any new long-term financial investment in "baseload" generation resources -- those workhorse power plants that supply electricity around the clock -- made on behalf of California customers must be in clean energy sources. Get document in pdf.
Support a Ban On U.S. Mercury Exports
Legislative Analysis
The United States should take strong measures against global mercury contamination by adopting a ban on the export of surplus mercury to the world market.
A Golden Opportunity
California's Solutions for Global Warming
California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, AB 32, is the most ambitious global warming solutions law in the nation. The next step: putting in place specific measures to bring emissions levels back to 1990 levels by 2020 to meet AB 32’s limit. This June 2007 report describes how California is protecting the state from global warming pollution while growing its economy and encouraging the innovative clean technology industry.
New Nuclear Power Plants Are Not a Solution for America’s Energy Needs
New nuclear power plants are unlikely to provide a significant fraction of future U.S. needs for low-carbon energy. NRDC favors more practical, economical and environmentally sustainable approaches to reducing both U.S. and global carbon emissions, focusing on the widest possible implementation of end-use energy-efficiency improvements, and on policies to accelerate commercialization of clean, flexible, renewable energy technologies.
San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act
Legislative Analysis
Last year, a historic settlement was reached to restore flows and salmon populations to California's second longest river, the San Joaquin, and approved by the federal court.
California Signs Landmark Global Warming Legislation
A new bill from a trendsetting state will set limits on global warming pollution and promises an economic boost.
California makes history by becoming the first state in the nation to set concrete limits on statewide global warming pollution.

Track Current Legislation

Recent Legislative Fact Sheets

The American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act is a Step to Building our Clean Energy Future
Senator Markey's legislation to establish a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) and standalone Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) would put in place key tools in the fight to address dangerous climate change. In order to meet our...
It's Time to Build an Economy that is Stronger, Cleaner, Healthier, and Made to Last
Clean energy and energy efficiency have provided a robust source for economic growth and innovation during difficult times and we should not reverse course. The impending budget sequester and expiring tax incentives will significantly reduce...
State Hydraulic Fracturing Disclosure Rules and Enforcement: A Comparison
This analysis provides a comprehensive comparison of existing disclosure requirements for states with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations. It finds more than half of the states with hydraulic fracturing activity currently have no...


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