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The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming addressed our nation's energy, economic and national security challenges during the 110th and 111th Congresses.

This is an archived version of the committee's website, where the public, students and the media can continue to access and learn from our work.

Principles for Global Warming Legislation Page


152 Members of Congress, led by Representatives Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), and Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) have joined together to solve both our climate and economic crisis. In a letter outlining principles for global warming legislation, the members stress the need to invest in a clean energy economy that will create millions of new green jobs here at home while simultaneously cutting the heat-trapping emissions responsible for global warming.

To Download a PDF of the letter, CLICK HERE.
To read the press release from Rep. Waxman, Markey and Inslee, CLICK HERE.


The principles outlined in the letter are science-based, technology-driven, and consumer-focused. Proposing an emissions cap with an auction system, the Members suggest taking revenues generated from polluters and investing in clean technology programs.

Every dollar invested in clean energy technologies produce 3 to 5 times more jobs per dollar than would be created in the fossil fuel industry.

In the formulation of climate legislation, the members want consumers to be the first to benefit from energy efficiency and new technology innovations. And vulnerable communities – those in harm’s way of hurricanes, floods and sea level rise caused by increased global warming -- must have the resources necessary to protect and rebuild their neighborhoods.

The letter was sent to Speaker Pelosi in order to help guide the next Congress as it produces legislation to establish a mandatory program to address the threat of global warming.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Madam Speaker,

We salute your leadership on one of the critical issues of our time: the effort to save the planet from calamitous global warming. You have listened to the scientists and recognized the scope and severity of the threat that global warming poses to our nation’s security, economy, public health, and ecosystems. You have made enacting legislation to address global warming a top priority for Congress for the first time in our history. We stand ready to help develop this legislation and enact it into law.

As part of this effort, we have developed a set of principles to guide Congress as it produces legislation to establish an economy-wide mandatory program to address the threat of global warming. Acting in accordance with these principles is critical to achieving a fair and effective bill that will avoid the most dangerous global warming and assist those harmed by the warming that is unavoidable, while strengthening our economy.

The following are the principles we have developed to guide the creation of comprehensive global warming legislation.

Comprehensive legislation to address global warming must achieve four key goals:

  1. Reduce emissions to avoid dangerous global warming;
  2. Transition America to a clean energy economy;
  3. Recognize and minimize any economic impacts from global warming legislation; and
  4. Aid communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from global warming.

To meet each of these goals, climate change legislation must include the following key elements.

Reduce Emissions to Avoid Dangerous Global Warming

The United States must do its part to keep global temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels. The scientific community warns that above this level, dangerous and irreversible changes to the Earth’s climate are predicted to occur. To meet this goal, the legislation must:

  • Review and respond to advancing climate science. The effects of global warming are happening much faster than scientists predicted several years ago, and there may be tipping points at which irreversible effects occur at lower levels of greenhouse gas concentrations than previously predicted. A mechanism for periodic scientific review is necessary, and EPA, and other agencies as appropriate, must adjust the regulatory response if the latest science indicates that more reductions are needed.
  • Make emissions targets certain and enforceable. Our strong existing environmental laws depend on enforceable requirements, rigorous monitoring and reporting of emissions, public input and transparent implementation, and government and citizen enforcement. All of these elements must be included in comprehensive global warming legislation. Cost-containment measures must not break the cap on global warming pollution. Any offsets must be real, additional, verifiable, permanent, and enforceable. The percentage of required emissions reductions that may be met with offsets should be strictly limited, and should be increased only to the extent that there is greater certainty that the offsets will not compromise the program’s environmental integrity.
  • Require the United States to engage with other nations to reduce emissions through commitments and incentives. The United States must reengage in the international negotiations to establish binding emissions reductions goals under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The legislation must encourage developing countries to reduce emissions by assisting such countries to avoid deforestation and to adopt clean energy technologies. This is a cost-effective way for the United States and other developed nations to achieve combined emissions reductions of at least 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, as called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Transition America to a Clean Energy Economy

Global warming legislation provides an opportunity to create new jobs, while transforming the way we live and work through renewable energy, green buildings, clean vehicles, and advanced technologies. To realize this opportunity, the legislation must:

  • Invest in the best clean energy and efficiency technologies. A significant portion of revenues from auctioning emissions allowances should be invested in clean energy and efficiency measures, targeted to technologies and practices that are cleaner, cheaper, safer, and faster than conventional technologies, as determined through the application of clear standards set by Congress.
  • Include and encourage complementary policies. Complementary policies can lower program costs by producing lower-cost emissions reductions from economic sectors and activities that are less sensitive to a price signal. Smart growth measures, green building policies, and electricity sector efficiency policies are important types of complementary policies. The legislation should include federal complementary policies and encourage state and local complementary policies in areas better addressed by states and localities.
  • Preserve states’ authorities to protect their citizens. Federal global warming requirements must be a floor, not a ceiling, on states’ ability to protect their citizens’ health and state resources. Throughout our history, states have pioneered policies that the nation has subsequently adopted. Addressing global warming requires state and local efforts, as well as national ones.

Recognize and Minimize Any Economic Impacts from Global Warming Legislation

Reducing global warming pollution will likely have some manageable costs, which would be far lower than the costs of inaction. To minimize any economic impacts, the legislation must:

  • Use public assets for public benefit in a fair and transparent way. Emissions allowances should be auctioned with the revenues going to benefit the public, and any free allocations should produce public benefits. If any allocations are given to polluters, they must be provided only to existing facilities for a brief transition period and the quantity must be limited to avoid windfall profits.
  • Return revenues to consumers. Revenues from auctioned allowances should be returned to low- and moderate-income households at a level sufficient to offset higher energy costs.
  • Return revenues to workers and communities. Workers and communities most affected by the transition to a clean energy economy should receive a portion of the revenues to ease the transition and build a trained workforce so that all can participate in the new energy economy.
  • Protect against global trade disadvantages to U.S. industry. In addition to providing incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions, the legislation should provide for an effective response to any countries that refuse to contribute their fair share to the international effort. These elements will protect energy-intensive U.S. enterprises against competitive disadvantage.

Aid Communities and Ecosystems Vulnerable to Harm from Global Warming

Global warming is already harming communities and ecosystems throughout the world, and even with immediate action to reduce emissions and avoid dangerous effects, these impacts will worsen over the coming decades. To ameliorate these harms, the legislation must:

  • Assist states, localities, and tribes to respond and adapt to the effects of global warming. A portion of auction revenues should be provided to states, localities, and tribes to respond to harm from global warming and adapt their infrastructure to its effects, such as more severe wildfires, intensified droughts, increased water scarcity, sea level rise, floods, hurricanes, melting permafrost, and agricultural and public health impacts.
  • Assist developing countries to respond and adapt to the effects of global warming. A portion of auction revenues should be provided to help the developing countries most vulnerable to harm from global warming and defuse the threats to national security and global stability posed by conflicts over water and other natural resources, famines, and mass migrations that could be triggered by global warming. Vulnerable countries include least developed countries, where millions of people are already living on the brink, and small island states, which face massive loss of land.
  • Assist wildlife and ecosystems threatened by global warming. A portion of auction revenues should be provided to federal, state, and tribal natural resource protection agencies to manage wildlife and ecosystems to maximize the survival of wildlife populations, imperiled species, and ecosystems, using science-based adaptation strategies.

These principles, if adopted as part of comprehensive climate change legislation, will meet the United States’ obligations to curb greenhouse gas emissions and also will provide a pathway to the international cooperation that is necessary to solve the global warming problem.

We commend these principles to you and hope that you find them helpful as we move forward together to develop and adopt global warming legislation.


Rep. Henry A. Waxman

Rep. Thomas H. Allen

Rep. John Lewis

Rep. Lloyd Doggett

Rep. Jim McDermott

Rep. John P. Sarbanes

Rep. Chris Van Hollen

Rep. James P. McGovern

Rep. Rush D. Holt

Rep. Albio Sires

Rep. John Conyers, Jr.

Rep. Jane Harman

Rep. Steven R. Rothman

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney

Rep. Keith Ellison

Rep. Zoe Lofgren

Rep. Patrick J. Murphy

Rep. Brian Baird

Rep. Joe Sestak

Rep. Andre Carson

Rep. Tim Ryan

Rep. Kathy Castor

Rep. Brad Sherman

Rep. Maxine Waters

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard

Rep. Eliot L. Engel

Rep. Donald M. Payne

Rep. Peter Welch

Rep. Linda T. Sánchez

Rep. Dennis Moore

Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey

Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro

Rep. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee

Rep. Joseph Crowley

Rep. Loretta Sanchez

Rep. William D. Delahunt

Rep. James L. Oberstar

Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Rep. Ben Chandler

Rep. Brian Higgins

Rep. Fortney Pete Stark

Rep. Donna F. Edwards

Rep. Robert E. Andrews

Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Rep. Ed Pastor

Rep. John A. Yarmuth

Rep. Xavier Becerra

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings

Rep. Edward J. Markey

Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Rep. Betty McCollum

Rep. John W. Olver

Rep. Mike Thompson

Rep. Robert Wexler

Rep. Raul M. Grijalva

Rep. James P. Moran

Rep. Henry C. "Hank' Johnson, Jr.

Rep. Howard L. Berman

Rep. Paul W. Hodes

Rep. Michael M. Honda

Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher

Rep. John F. Tierney

Rep. Adam B. Schiff

Rep. Bruce L. Braley

Rep. Bobby L. Rush

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo

Rep. Neil Abercrombie

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Steve Cohen

Rep. Michael R. McNulty

Rep. Betty Sutton

Rep. Robert A. Brady

Rep. Diana DeGette

Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter

Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay

Rep. Doris O. Matsui

Rep. Jose E. Serrano

Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton

Rep. Shelley Berkley

Rep. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega

Rep. Kendrick B. Meek

Rep. Jackie Speier

Rep. Phil Hare

Rep. Charles B. Rangel

Rep. Gwen Moore

Rep. Timothy H. Bishop

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Rep. Steve Israel

Rep. Tammy Baldwin

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich

Rep. Madeleine Z. Bordallo

Rep. Al Green

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks

Rep. Leonard L. Boswell

Rep. Ron Klein

Rep. Mel Watt

Rep. Jay Inslee

Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey

Rep. Lois Capps

Rep. Bob Filner

Rep. Barney Frank

Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky

Rep. Mazie K. Hirono

Rep. Susan A. Davis

Rep. Steve Kagen

Rep. Yvette D. Clarke

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver

Rep. Christopher S. Murphy

Rep. Sam Farr

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings

Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz

Rep. Nita M. Lowey

Rep. James R. Langevin

Rep. Chaka Fattah

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.

Rep. Anthony D. Weiner

Rep. Jerrold Nadler

Rep. Russ Carnahan

Rep. Jerry McNerney

Rep. Danny K. Davis

Rep. Grace F. Napolitano

Rep. David E. Price

Rep. Hilda L. Solis

Rep. David Wu

Rep. Niki Tsongas

Rep. Diane E. Watson

Rep. Adam Smith

Rep. Joe Courtney

Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter

Rep. Brad Miller

Rep. Gary L. Ackerman

Rep. Daniel Lipinski

Rep. Norman D. Dicks

Rep. Timothy J. Walz

Rep. Corrine Brown

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy

Rep. Donna M. Christensen

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson

Rep. John J. Hall

Rep. David Loebsack

Rep. Richard E. Neal

Rep. Laura Richardson

Rep. Rick Larsen

Rep. Michael A. Arcuri


PLEASE NOTE: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was created to explore American clean energy solutions that end our reliance on foreign oil and reduce carbon pollution.

The Select Committee was active during the 110th and 111th Congresses. This is an archived version of the website, to ensure that the public has ongoing access to the Select Committee record. This website, including external links, will not be updated after Jan. 3rd, 2010.

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