Environmentalists and clean energy advocates frequently blame Congress for the country's lack of a comprehensive energy and climate law.
In 2009, Congress failed to pass climate legislation that would have put a price on carbon dioxide and created incentives for energy companies to shift from high-carbon to clean energy sources. That was the last time there was real momentum behind a federal carbon-control regime.
But all is not lost, according to the group Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP).
In a new report, PCAP lists 10 overarching recommendations the next president can implement through executive orders, which don't require Congressional input or approval.
The plan calls for creating a "coalition of the willing" and criteria for imposing a price on emissions, and urges empowering the White House Council on Environmental Quality to oversee and drive U.S. climate policy nationally and abroad. It also calls for, among many other actions, repealing $4 billion in oil industry subsidies.
"Our thought leaders in the military and intelligence communities tell us point-blank that fossil energy and climate change both threaten our national security as well as the environment. Why, then, do we require taxpayers to support oil, coal and gas companies?" said PCAP executive director Bill Becker in a press release.
PCAP, based in Colorado, is a nonpartisan think-tank made up of business leaders, national security experts, environmental foundations and others. This is the group's fifth presidential action plan since 2007.
See full 62-page report here. The 10 overarching recommendations for the next president:
1. Complete the job of pricing carbon
2. Reform federal fiscal policy for an advanced energy economy
3. Make America first in energy productivity
4. Develop a national roadmap to an advanced energy economy
5. Make sustainable development a national security imperative
6. Increase America's mobility options
7. Empower state and local leadership on energy and climate
8. Intensify carbon diplomacy
9. Develop genuine progress indicators
10. Help the American people envision an Advanced energy economy