U.S. Federal Policy
CATF’s federal policy efforts, based in Washington, D.C., focus on securing the policy and technology solutions necessary to promote clean air, support communities, and address climate change.
We continue CATF’s 25-year tradition of following the science where it leads and developing flexible strategies to make progress in the unique and evolving U.S. political environment.
The climate crisis is one of the most complex challenges in human history.
In the United States, both Republican and Democratic-led states are experiencing the harsh consequences of unmitigated climate change. In response, policymakers are increasingly searching for solutions that will put the U.S. on a path towards deep decarbonization within the next 30 years. But these decisions need to be made strategically to ensure all the necessary investments are made to get us to 100% carbon-free.
Achieving a net-zero emissions economy in the timeframe climate science demands will require collaboration from government, affected communities, and environmental and business partners. That’s where we come in.
Building an inclusive portfolio of technology and policy solutions
Leading with an inclusive portfolio of affordable and reliable technology solutions is a pragmatic and achievable pathway towards the ambitious goal of a zero-carbon economy.
CATF believes full decarbonization can be achieved through the continued deployment of renewable energy and the commercialization of firm, zero-carbon technologies, which together will create jobs, improve public health, and maintain the reliable energy services the modern world depends on.
The U.S. has a unique opportunity to lead in developing and commercializing industrial and power sector decarbonization technologies. These investments will preserve and create new American manufacturing and construction jobs and elevate U.S. leadership by exporting those solutions to the world.
Our goal in the United States is to achieve net-zero economy-wide emissions by 2050. That means keeping all viable paths to decarbonization open, ramping up the demonstration and deployment of innovative technologies, and drawing meaningful connections between policy benefits and communities across the country.
Our impact in federal policy
Our Efforts & Strategies
Clean Air Task Force focuses on a suite of policies required to get us to net-zero emissions:
- Deploy renewables and zero-emissions firm power sources: The U.S. needs to decarbonize its power sector while maintaining rigorous reliability and resilience standards. Building more renewables and backing those up with firm power sources like decarbonized fossil, nuclear energy, and zero-carbon fuels such as hydrogen can ensure Americans have on-demand access to affordable electricity.
- Transition away from unabated fossil fuels: It is time to move the United States away from any fossil fuels that do not fully capture and sequester their carbon and mitigate their methane emissions.
- Invest in RD&D for advanced clean energy options that will decarbonize transportation and industry: The federal government must aggressively fund research, development, and deployment of clean energy that is at least an order of magnitude greater than we have now, and will cover well beyond first-of-a-kind projects. These investments are necessary to give the U.S. a competitive edge in the global clean energy economy.
- Building the infrastructure needed to integrate clean energy technologies: From electricity transmission lines, zero-emissions energy generation, and CO₂ and zero-carbon fuel pipelines, the federal government should foster an environment with clear rules and incentives that unleash the full potential of these technologies.
- Strengthen standards and regulations that significantly reduce greenhouse gases: A strong, focused, and immediate regulatory agenda under current authorities such as the Clean Air Act is critically important. Federal agencies can immediately act to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 65%. The EPA must also take steps to dramatically lower carbon and conventional air pollutant emissions from fossil power plants in the next decade.
Recent federal policy wins include:
- Played an instrumental role in passing the Energy Act of 2020, securing $125 billion for five years of energy technology at the United States federal level.
- Helped secure and defend U.S. EPA rules reducing coal plant air toxic emissions by 80-96% in 2017 compared with 2010 levels through the Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS). Our advocacy on EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), and on ozone implementation rules have also contributed to air pollution reductions that are saving 20,000+ lives per year.
- Helped win and defend EPA’s Power Plant Carbon Pollution Standards, under which no new coal-fired electric power plants can be built without meeting strict carbon dioxide limits
- Helped win and Defend the Obama Clean Power Plan, which was ultimately stayed by the Supreme Court, and successfully challenged the Trump replacement rule.
- Reinvigorated federal interest in zero-carbon fuels with the release of an important 2018 report, Fuels Without Carbon, Prospects and the Pathway Forward for Zero-Carbon Hydrogen and Ammonia Fuels. The report explored how scaling up the production and use of zero-carbon hydrogen and ammonia might help decarbonize segments of the power sector, the industrial sector, and the transportation sector. It contributed to putting zero-carbon fuels on the map as a critical tool in the decarbonization toolkit.
- Helped secure Congressional support for the 45Q tax credit for carbon capture technology in February 2018. CATF advocated for the carbon capture technology for 10 years leading to this success, including helping create the Carbon Capture Coalition, which includes diverse stakeholders advocating for the technology.
- Helped secure the adoption of federal reporting and accounting rules by EPA (subpart RR) for geologic storage that helps enable targeted incentives such as 45Q.
- Helped secure the DOE grants program that resulted in three active power and industrial CCS projects in North America.
- Persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to block EPA from exempting biomass emissions from Clean Air Act regulation (2013), and convinced EPA to remove biomass combustion as a compliance option in the federally administered version of the Clean Power Plan (2016), and steered Congress away from a policy that could have resulted in a 50% increase in conventional ethanol consumption (2017).
- Catalyzed the U.S. Methane Partners Campaign in 2014, which secured first-ever U.S. federal methane pollution standards for the oil and gas industry in 2016. In 2021, they successfully advocated for restoring those 2016 standards under the Congressional Review Act.
Learn more about our history and impact.
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