U.S. States & Regions
States and regions across the country are adopting climate policies, including the development of regional greenhouse gas reduction markets, the creation of state and local climate action and adaptation plans, and increasing renewable energy generation. Read More
On May 13, 2010, Governor Joe Manchin signed Senate Bill 183, the Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act, which aims to reduce emissions by setting a limit on how long a diesel truck can run its engine when the vehicle is not moving. Starting June 11, 2010, diesel-powered vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds will be limited to idling for no more than 5 minutes per 60-minute period. Violators, including owners and operators of the vehicles and the locations where the vehicles load and unload, will face fines between $150 and $300.
The law provides a number of exemptions from the limit for idling due to highway traffic, traffic signals, emergencies, and work-related operations. Drivers idling in order to provide heating or air conditioning while sleeping or resting are exempt when parked legally and temperatures are below 40 or above 75 degrees; however, the exemption expires on May 1, 2011 when idle-reduction technology is expected to be more widely available.
On May 11, 2010 Maine Governor John E. Baldacci ceremonially signed five bills aimed at achieving the state’s goals for clean energy development and energy independence. The five pieces of energy legislation include the following:
- LD 1786, “An Act Regarding Energy Infrastructure Development,” calls for the use of designated energy corridors if the corridor’s use is likely to reduce electric rates and benefit the long-term public interest of the State, including the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Revenues from the use of state-owned lands or assets are directed to improve energy efficiency and increase renewable energy generation.
- LD 1535, “An Act to Create a Smart Grid Policy in the State,” establishes a state policy on smart grid infrastructure as a means to improve power reliability and the overall efficiency of the power resource and delivery system while reducing energy consumption, GHGs and costs to consumers.
- LD 1717, “An Act to Increase the Affordability of Clean Energy for Homeowners and Businesses,” authorizes municipalities to implement property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs through a local ordinance that provides financing to property owners for clean energy improvements. Municipalities will be able to use federal grants or any other funds available for the purpose of funding PACE programs.
- LD 1504, “An Act to Provide Predictable Benefits to Maine Communities that Host Wind Energy Developments,” clarifies that as the State aggressively pursues wind power, ratepayers in host communities will receive a minimum level of benefits through a community benefits package. The community benefits package is evaluated as a part of the permit application submitted by wind energy developers.
- LD 1810, “An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force,” advances the development of Maine’s renewable ocean energy resource by establishing a state goal of five gigawatts of electricity generation from facilities located in coastal waters by 2030.
On March 18, 2010 Oregon Governor Ted Kuglonoski signed Senate Bill 1059, legislation that lays the groundwork for smart, sustainable, and cost-effective transportation systems. Specifically, the new law directs the Oregon Transportation Commission, in consultation with metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), other state agencies, local governments and stakeholders, to develop a state-level strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation sources. The legislation also directs the state Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) to develop a toolkit to assist local governments and MPOs in reducing GHGs from transportation, and create guidelines for scenario planning. Additionally, ODOT, the Department of Environmental Quality and the State Department of Energy shall provide information to the DLCD to set transportation-related GHG reduction targets (not mandates) for major metropolitan areas.
SB 1059 implements some of the recommendations from the Metropolitan Planning Organization and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Task Force established by the Legislature in 2009.
On February 25, 2010, the California Air Resources Board adopted a regulation to limit and monitor sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions from electric power sector equipment. SF6 is a highly inert and non-corrosive gas, and because of these properties it is used in small amounts as insulation for high-voltage switchgear, which are components of the electrical transmission and distribution system. The measure was developed in consultation with electric utility representatives and is expected to achieve a 70 percent reduction of SF6 emissions statewide from electrical utilities – a total reduction of 250,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020.
The measure takes effect January 1, 2011, and from 2011 to 2020, it ratchets down the allowable SF6 emission rate from 10 percent in 2011 to 1 percent in 2020. The emission rate is the percentage of total SF6 that grid equipment is designed to use for insulation that can be emitted each year.
This post first appeared today in the National Journal Energy & Environment Experts blog.
As with many aspects of climate policy, there is some truth to the arguments on both sides of the debate over how federal legislation should treat state action and EPA Clean Air Act (CAA) authority. The answer is less about who is right or wrong and more about appropriately balancing the strengths and weaknesses brought to the table by states and the federal government. Both have important roles to play in a strong federal climate and clean energy program.
On March 22, 2010 Governor Bill Ritter signed legislation (HB 1001) requiring that 30 percent of Colorado’s electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2020 – one of the highest percentage requirements in the U.S. The new 30 percent requirement is the second update of the original renewable energy requirement of 10 percent by 2015 that was set in Amendment 37, which Colorado residents passed in 2004. Legislation enacted in 2007 doubled this requirement to 20 percent by 2020, and now in just six years the state has tripled its commitment to renewable energy.
HB 1001 also calls for 3 percentage points of the 30 percent standard to be met by local solar power to encourage distributed generation without the need to construct new and expensive transmission lines.
ANCHORAGE - "Hello. I'm a Republican, and I believe in climate change." These words opened a presentation at the Alaska Forum on the Environment and indicate that, here in Alaska, issues surrounding climate change have often transcended the partisanship that sometimes dominates the issue 3,000 miles away in Washington.
This bipartisanship has evolved because probably no place in America is the evidence of climate change more clearly on display than in Alaska. Climate change’s leading edge is in the Arctic, and temperatures in Alaska have risen 4 degrees or even more depending on location. With warming and its impacts visible to all and being increasingly analyzed on a local level, discussions of climate change, especially as it relates to adaptation, take on a tone all too unfamiliar inside the Beltway.
ANCHORAGE - Alaska is a big state, with big mountains, big wildlife, and big development projects. It’s also a place of big changes: the state has warmed more than 4 degrees, creating tremendous pressures on the natural environment and society. But in a place where the people are always looking for the next big economic driver, like a $40 billion Alaska natural gas pipeline, uncertainty about carbon regulation is an Alaska-sized problem.
On January 14, 2010, the California Building Standards Commission approved the most environmentally stringent building code in the United States for new commercial buildings, hospitals, schools, shopping malls, and homes. The new code, named CAL Green, requires builders to install a number of environmentally friendly features in new buildings, including plumbing to cut indoor water use, efficient heaters and air conditioners, and requires them to divert 50 percent of construction waste to recycling. Local jurisdictions will be able to keep their stricter existing standards, or adopt more stringent versions of the state code.
The California Air Resources Board estimates that the code will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million metric tons in 2020. The new code will go into effect in January 2011.
Addressing the challenge of global climate change will require a significant reduction in annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States and throughout the world by 2050. This will necessitate a fundamental shift from an economy predominantly based on traditional fossil fuel use to one based on efficiently managed low-carbon energy sources, including technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2).
Achievement of this transition depends on both near-term and long-term actions that take advantage of current technologies and opportunities and that also make substantial investments in the technologies of the future. But most of all, the United States needs a clearly enunciated and sustained policy to guide those actions. Too often the debate over GHG emission reductions pits near-term actions against long-term investments in technology, when in fact both are necessary and more effective together.
In 2004, the Pew Center held a workshop (the “10-50” Workshop) to understand the technologies likely to enable a low-carbon future by mid-century (50 years) and identify policy options for the coming decade (10 years) to help “push” and “pull” these technologies into the market. This brief reviews some of the key policies and actions deemed important five years ago and reports on progress against those goals to date; it finds significant progress in pushing low-carbon technologies and underscores the critical remaining need for a policy, such as cap and trade, that puts a price on carbon and “pulls” those technologies into the marketplace.
Click here for more on the 10-50 Solution.