Congressional Research Service Reports - Browse

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Air Quality: EPA's Ozone Transport Rule, OTAG, and Section 216 Petitions - A Hazy Situation?
The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments provided the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states with new tool to address the problem of interstate transport of air pollutants. This report discusses the actions undertaken as a direct result of this act, additional pollution reduction enforcement measures pursued by the EPA, and actions undertaken by states to reduce offending emissions not in compliance with these measures.
Highway Fund Sanctions and Conformity Under the Clean Air Act
No Description Available.
Mercury Emissions from Electric Power Plants: States are Setting Stricter Limits
No Description Available.
The D.C. Circuit Remands the Ozone and Particulate Matter Clean-Air Standards:
On May 14, 1999, in American Trucking Ass'ns v. EPA, a U.S. court of Appeals ruled that deficiencies in EPA's promulgation of new primary and secondary air quality standards required that they be remanded to the agency for further consideration. The decision is controversial, in part because the two-judge majority opinion relied principally on a long-moribund legal doctrine known as the nondelegation doctrine. The decision, if it survives appeal, will thus have implications for all delegations of congressional authority to agencies. In addition, its holding that the revised ozone ambient standard cannot be enforced has sparkled debate. By itself, however, the decision is unlikely to have major short-term effects on the ozone and particulate matter control programs
Clean Air Standards: The Supreme Court Agrees to Review
In May, 2000, the Supreme Court agreed to review this decision, raising the prospect of a major pronouncement on the non-delegation doctrine, the enforceability of the revised ozone standard, and the role of compliance costs in setting nationwide air quality standards.
Federal Pollution Control Laws: How Are They Enforced?
This report provides an overview of the statutory framework, key players, infrastructure, resources, tools, and operations associated with enforcement and compliance of the major pollution control laws and regulations administered by EPA. It also outlines the roles of federal (including regional offices) and state regulators, as well as the regulated community.
U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Recent Trends and Factors
A question for policy makers is whether U.S. GHG emissions will remain at current levels, decrease to meet the President's 2020 and 2025 goals, or increase to former (or even higher) levels. Multiple factors, including socioeconomics, technology, and climate policies, may impact GHG emission levels. The first section of this report provides current levels and recent trends in U.S. GHG emissions. The second section takes a closer look at some of the key factors that influence emission levels. The third section discusses the challenges in making GHG emission projections by comparing observed emissions with pre-observed emission estimates.
EPA's Clean Power Plan Proposal: Are the Emission Rate Targets Front-Loaded?
On June 18, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed regulations (the "Clean Power Plan") addressing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units. This report briefly discusses this proposal.
Ocean Acidification
This report discusses the increasing concern, within the scientific community, that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could detrimentally alter marine ecosystems. The report discusses how ocean acidification happens, its possible outcomes, as well as natural and human responses that could possibly limit or reduce the rate of the process.
Ocean Acidification
This report discusses the increasing concern, within the scientific community, that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could detrimentally alter marine ecosystems. The report discusses how ocean acidification happens, its possible outcomes, as well as natural and human responses that could possibly limit or reduce the rate of the process.
The Role of Offsets in a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap-and-Trade Program: Potential Benefits and Concerns
This report discusses offsets in relation to a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program. The first section of this report provides an overview of offsets by discussing different types of offset projects and describing how the offsets would likely be used in an emission reduction program. The next section discusses the supply of offsets that might be available in an emission trading program. The subsequent sections examine the potential offset benefits and the potential concerns associated with offsets. The final section offers considerations for Congress.
Climate Summit 2014: Warm-Up for 2015
This report discusses Climate Summit 2014, its context, and its impact on future international climate initiatives.
Ocean Acidification
This report discusses the increasing concern, within the scientific community, that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could detrimentally alter marine ecosystems. The report discusses how ocean acidification happens, its possible outcomes, as well as natural and human responses that could possibly limit or reduce the rate of the process.
Biochar: Examination of an Emerging Concept to Mitigate Climate Change
This report briefly describes biochar, its potential advantages and disadvantages, legislative support, and research and development activities underway in the United States and abroad.
Biochar: Examination of an Emerging Concept to Mitigate Climate Change
Biochar is a charcoal produced under high temperatures using crop residues, animal manure, or any type of organic waste material. Depending on the feedstock, biochar may look similar to potting soil or to a charred substance. The combined production and use of biochar is considered a carbon-negative process, meaning that it removes carbon from the atmosphere. This report briefly describes biochar, its potential advantages and disadvantages, legislative support, and research and development activities underway in the United States.
EPA Regulations: Too Much, Too Little, or On Track?
This report provides background information on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory activity during the Obama Administration. It examines major or controversial regulatory actions taken by or under development at EPA since January 2009, providing details on the regulatory action itself, presenting an estimated timeline for completion of rules not yet promulgated (including identification of related court or statutory deadlines), and, in general, providing EPA's estimates of costs and benefits, where available. The report includes tables that show which rules remain under development, and an appendix that describes major or controversial rules that are now final.
EPA's Proposed Clean Power Plan: Conversion to Mass-Based Emission Targets
This report discusses the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) mass-based conversion methodology and the resulting state-specific mass-based targets.
EPA's Proposed Clean Power Plan: Conversion to Mass-Based Emission Targets
This report discusses the Environmental Protection Agency's mass-based conversion methodology and the resulting state-specific mass-based targets.
Cars and Climate: What Can EPA Do to Control Greenhouse Gases from Mobile Sources?
This report discusses the debate surrounding proposed controls on greenhouse gas emissions. Not all parties are in agreement that controls on GHGs are desirable.
Climate Change: Comparison of the Cap-and-Trade Provisions in H.R. 2454 and S. 1733
This report provides a comparison of the cap-and-trade provisions of two bills. The first is H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. In addition to establishing a cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, this bill addresses energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other energy topics. Later, Senator Kerry introduced S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Comparison of Climate Change Adaptation Provisions in S. 1733 and H.R. 2454
This report summarizes and compares climate change adaptation-related provisions in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) and the Clean Energy, Jobs, and Power Act (S. 1733). Both H.R. 2454 and S. 1733 include adaptation provisions that seek to better assess the impacts of climate change and variability that are occurring now and in the future; and support adaptation activities related to climate change, both domestically and internationally.
Automobile and Light Truck Fuel Economy: The CAFE Standards
This report discusses the current corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard of 35 miles per gallon (mpg), and the major issues on the CAFE debate. The report also offers an overview of Congressional interest in CAFE (1991-2005), and explains the CAFE and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
Automobile and Truck Fuel Economy (CAFE) and Greenhouse Gas Standards
Report that looks at vehicle fuel costs, fuel consumption in the United States, and examines the estimated costs to new vehicles that may arise from the Obama Administration's new passenger vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for vehicle model years (MY) 2017-2025.
Biochar: Examination of an Emerging Concept to Mitigate Climate Change
This report briefly describes biochar, its potential advantages and disadvantages, legislative support, and research and development activities underway in the United States and abroad.
Climate Change: The Role of the U.S. Agriculture Sector
This report discusses the extent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the U.S. agriculture sector, and cites current and potential estimates for U.S. agricultural soils to sequester carbon and partly offset national GHG emissions. The report describes the types of land management and farm conservation practices that can reduce GHG emissions and/or sequester carbon in agricultural soils, highlighting those practices that are currently promoted under existing voluntary federal agricultural programs. The Appendix provides a summary primer of the key background information presented in these first two sections. Finally, the report describes ongoing legislative action within both the climate change and farm bill debates, and discusses the types of questions that may be raised regarding the role of the U.S. agriculture sector in the broader climate change debate.
Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Critical Barriers and Congressional Policy
Federal policymakers are debating a range of potential initiatives for reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from U.S. energy sources. An overarching policy issue which arises from carbon control proposals is how the CO2 reduction targets could be achieved. One method that has garnered significant attention is increasing the electricity efficiency in buildings. Analysts have identified a number of critical socioeconomic and policy barriers which have historically limited the impact of federal and state building efficiency programs. This report describes those barriers, the degree to which federal law has addressed them, and their implications for meeting future U.S. carbon reduction targets.
California's Waiver Request Under the Clear Air Act to Control Greenhouse Gases From Motor Vehicles
This report reviews the nature of EPA's, California's, and other states' authority to regulate emissions from mobile sources, the applicability of that authority to GHGs, and issues related to the California waiver request.
Cruise Ship Pollution: Background, Laws and Regulations, and Key Issues
This report describes the several types of waste streams that cruise ships may discharge and emit. It identifies the complex body of international and domestic laws that address pollution from cruise ships. It then describes federal and state legislative activity concerning cruise ships in Alaskan waters and activities in a few other states, as well as current industry initiatives to manage cruise ship pollution.
Climate Change: Design Approaches for a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program
This report explores strategies to control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and options to address the cost issue in four parts. First, the basic economic tradeoff between controlling the quantity of GHG emissions and the program's compliance costs is introduced and explained. Second, the five dimensions of the cost issue that have arisen so far in the climate change debate are identified and discussed. Third, a representative sample of proposed approaches to address cost concerns is compared and analyzed according to the five cost dimensions identified previously. Finally, the proposed options are summarized and opportunities to combine or merge different approaches are analyzed.
Climate Change: Comparison and Analysis of S. 1766 and S. 2191 (S. 3036)
This report focuses on the second category of bills, and on two bills in particular: S. 1766 and S. 2191. S. 1766. Introduced July 11, 2007, by Senators Bingaman and Specter, S. 1766 would set emissions targets on most of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.
Clean Air After the CAIR Decision: Back to Square One?
This report discusses the potential impact on communities attempting to achieve National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and the impact on mercury emissions could be substantial, and has prompted some to call for congressional action to address the issue.
Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships
This report provides information regarding pollution from ships and port facilities; discusses some of the measures being implemented and considered by local, state, and federal regulatory agencies; discusses the efforts to ratify and to strengthen Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL); and describes legislation in Congress to control emissions from ships by amending the Clean Air Act (CAA).
Methane Capture: Options for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction
This report discusses legislative alternatives for addressing methane capture, sources of methane, opportunities and challenges for methane capture, and current federal programs that support methane recovery.
Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships
This report provides information regarding pollution from ships and port facilities; discusses some of the measures being implemented and considered by local, state, and federal regulatory agencies; discusses the efforts to ratify and to strengthen Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL); and describes legislation in Congress to control emissions from ships by amending the Clean Air Act (CAA).
Automobile and Light Truck Fuel Economy: The CAFE Standards
This report discusses the current corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard of 35 miles per gallon (mpg), and the major issues on the CAFE debate. The report also offers an overview of Congressional interest in CAFE (1991-2005), and explains the CAFE and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
The Role of Offsets in a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap-and-Trade Program: Potential Benefits and Concerns
This report discusses offsets in relation to a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program. The first section of this report provides an overview of offsets by discussing different types of offset projects and describing how the offsets would likely be used in an emission reduction program. The next section discusses the supply of offsets that might be available in an emission trading program. The subsequent sections examine the potential offset benefits and the potential concerns associated with offsets. The final section offers considerations for Congress.
Air Pollution from Ships: MARPOL Annex VI and Other Control Options
This report provides information regarding pollution from ships and port facilities; discusses some of the measures being implemented and considered by local, state, and federal regulatory agencies; discusses the efforts to ratify and to strengthen Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL); and describes legislation Congress is considering to control emissions from ships by amending the Clean Air Act (CAA).
Global Climate Change: The Energy Tax Incentives in the President's FY2000 Budget
This report discusses the FY2000 budget, which includes several energy tax incentives intended to reduce greenhouse gasses linked to possible global warming.
Automobile and Light Truck Fuel Economy: The CAFE Standards
This report discusses the current corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard, and the major issues on the CAFE debate. The report also offers an overview of Congressional interest in CAFE (1991-2005), and explains the CAFE and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
Global Climate Change: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Status, Trends, and Projections
This report discusses greenhouse gas emissions and baselines in the U.S. and various aspects of future projections.
Global Climate Change: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Status, Trends, and Projections
This report reviews U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases in the contexts both of domestic policy and of international obligations and proposals. On October 15, 1992, the United States ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which entered into force on March 21, 1994. This committed the United States to “national policies” to limit “its anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases,” with a voluntary goal of returning “emissions of carbon dioxide [CO2] and other greenhouse gases [methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)]” at the “end of the decade” to “their 1990 levels.”
EPA's Clean Power Plan: Highlights of the Final Rule
This report provides an initial analysis of EPA's final rule -- a prepublication version, known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP), pursuant to Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act -- summarizing highlights and identifying differences between the final and proposed rules. The topics discussed do not represent an exhaustive list of the differences from the proposed rule or the support or opposition that may be raised by various stakeholders.
Global Climate Change Treaty: The Kyoto Protocol
Negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were completed December 11, 1997, committing the industrialized nations to specified, legally binding reductions in emissions of six "greenhouse gases." This report discusses the major provisions of the Kyoto Protocol.
Global Climate Change Treaty: The Kyoto Protocol
Negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were completed December 11, 1997, committing the industrialized nations to specified, legally binding reductions in emissions of six "greenhouse gases." This report discusses the major provisions of the Kyoto Protocol.
Underground Carbon Dioxide Sequestration: Frequently Asked Questions
This report answers frequently asked questions about the geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2). The questions are broadly representative of typical inquiries regarding the process and mechanics of storing CO2 underground, how much might be stored, and what might happen to CO2 once it is injected underground.
Global Climate Change: Adequacy of Commitments Under the U.N. Framework Convention and the Berlin Mandate
This report discusses the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) convened July 8-19, 1996, in Geneva, Switzerland.
Global Climate Change Policy: Domestic Early Action Credits
This report discusses the global climate change policy and proposals to allow credit for early actions to reduce emissions.
Global Climate Change: A Concise History of Negotiations and Chronology of Major Activities Preceding the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention
This report discusses the ongoing international policy debate regarding Global Climate Change and U.S. involvement in the issue of global climate change.The report provides an historical context of the current debate, which is important in understanding the fundamental issues about global climate change.
Global Climate Change: Reducing Greenhouse Gases - How Much from What Baseline?
This report discusses the ways to reduce emissions of six greenhouses gases after the Kyoto meeting on Global Climate Change. Projecting the reductions that would be required if the U.S. were to ratify the treaty is difficult. While emissions of CO are fairly well established and account for 2 about 85% of total carbon equivalent emissions, emissions of the other gases, especially N O, are more uncertain.
Global Climate Change: Federal Research on Possible Human Health Effects
This report identifies the array of climate-relevant human health research and discusses the interconnections.