CBO’s scoring of Waxman-Markey’s Cap and Tax Bill

by Julie Walsh on June 11, 2009

The Congressional Budget Office released a report on June 5th detailing the costs and revenues of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, before the House. Noticeably absent, however, is analysis of the effects of Renewable Electricity Credits (RECs) and the domestic and international offset credits. These should force up costs for consumers and therefore reduce economic growth and federal revenues.


The bill gives away over three-quarters of the rationing coupons, auctioning off just 18 percent until 2020. CBO estimates in the first ten years, the bill would bring in revenues of $845.6 billion, but increase federal spending by $821.2 billion—a $24.4 billion net gain over ten years.

CBO estimates that the cost of mandates in the bill would well exceed the annual threshold established in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act for intergovernmental and private-sector mandates. One of these mandates is requirement for States’ to establish greenhouse gas registries plus about $1 billion annually for public entities to comply with the greenhouse gas program.

The program would start with 4,627 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent (MT-CO2e) coupons in 2012 and over the next four years grow to 5,482 million MT-CO2e. Then they would decline by 100 to 150 million MT-CO2e per year to 2,035 million MT-CO2e in 2050, about 14 percent of projected emissions from business-as-usual projections.

The amount of coupons auctioned actually drops from 29.6% in 2012 and 2013 to 17.5% through 2019, while the free allocations (i.e,windfall profits) increase to 82.5%.

The new carbon market would exceed $60 billion by 2012.

The banking of coupons in the bill increases allowance prices by 13 percent by 2019.

CBO estimates that covered entities would use 230 million domestic offsets (230 MT-CO2e) in 2012 and 300 million in 2020, plus 190 million international offsets in 2012 and 425 million in 2020.

CBO expects that some regions of the country—particularly the southeast—would probably not generate sufficient RECs to satisfy the federal standard, and therefore, would choose to make compliance payments.

CBO estimates $8.2 billion in federal agencies’ administrative costs from 2010 to 2019.

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