Clearer Skies With Energy Efficiency

July 17, 2003

Media Contact(s):

Wendy Koch, 202-507-4753, Senior Director, Marketing & Communications

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report, by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), examines the use of energy efficiency as a Clean Air Act compliance tool in the emissions trading system that emerged from the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. ACEEE concluded that as Congress currently contemplates action on multi-pollutant legislation, it should include energy efficiency as a compliance option. If not, Americans will pay needlessly high costs for cleaner air.

"It's typically cheaper to prevent pollution than to clean it up after the fact," said Dan York, report author and an ACEEE Senior Associate. "Our analysis shows that energy efficiency is a proven, low cost way to reduce air pollution emissions. However, it is vital to create specific policies that enable energy efficiency to compete fairly with other reduction strategies."

The report, which reviews the experience of energy efficiency as a compliance mechanism under Title IV of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, summarizes lessons learned from that program and offers recommendations for future multi-pollutant policies. Energy Efficiency and Emissions Trading: Experience from the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 for Using Energy Efficiency to Meet Air Pollution Regulations can be downloaded for free at

According to ACEEE, Congress is being offered too few compliance options in the multi-pollutant legislation now before it. The Administration's Clear Skies proposal does not include energy efficiency as an allowable compliance option, and is thus narrower than the successful 1990 sulfur dioxide legislation. ACEEE's assessment finds that other bills, including those introduced by Senators Carper and Jeffords, include specific provisions for energy efficiency as a compliance option, which provide the kind of flexibility that effective cap-and-trade systems need. A core tenet of multi-pollutant, cap-and-trade emissions reduction policies is to set overall targets, and to give affected parties broad flexibility to find the most cost-effective ways to meet those targets-including reducing emissions through energy efficiency. Clear Skies fails this test, and must be replaced or significantly amended to correct this deficiency.

"A clean air bill without energy efficiency ignores history, ties the hands of industry, and costs more than it needs to," said Bill Prindle, ACEEE Deputy Director. "More than a decade of experience at the federal and state levels shows that energy efficiency is a proven air quality compliance option. Congress should include efficiency in any multi-pollutant bill it considers."