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 November 8, 2007, the state of California sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to act on the state’s vehicle emissions standards waiver request. In its lawsuit, California argues that the agency should be compelled to issue a decision on the request, which was originally made by the California Air Resources Board in December 2005. California has special authority under the Federal Clean Air Act to set its own vehicle emissions standards that go beyond federal standards, though it must first obtain a waiver from the U.S. EPA. Other states can then choose to follow either California’s regulations or the EPA’s. California’s proposed greenhouse gas emissions standards for motor vehicles would be gradually phased in starting in 2009, and by 2016 would require reductions of tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles of approximately 30 percent. The fourteen other states poised to adopt the California standards will join as interveners in the lawsuit. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger warned the federal government six months earlier that the state would file the suit if the U.S. EPA continued to delay action on the waiver request. The EPA has repeatedly stated that it will reach a decision by the end of 2007.
On November 7, 2007, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter released Colorado’s Climate Action Plan. Under the plan, the Governor will issue an executive order by the end of the year establishing a statewide greenhouse gas emissions reductions target of 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and an 80 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2050. The plan also urges accelerated federal investments in clean coal technologies and state investments in clean coal technologies. Other actions under the plan include an agricultural carbon offset program, Colorado’s adoption of California’s vehicle GHG emissions standards, an Industrial Energy Efficiency Program for large industrial emitters, and mandatory reporting of GHG emissions by major emitters. The Colorado plan also addresses adaptation measures, with a primary focus on water resources and forestry.
On November 1-2, 2007, 100 mayors attended the 2007 Mayors Climate Protection Summit in Seattle, Washington. At the Summit, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) announced a new partnership. All 1,100 cities in the USCM will have the opportunity to purchase energy-efficient and clean-energy products and technologies through CCI’s existing purchasing consortium. Mayors at the conference also urged Congress to complete energy efficiency legislation by the end of the year. As of November 2007, 710 mayors, representing 25 percent of the U.S. population, have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Signatories commit to reduce the carbon emissions of their communities seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012, in line with targets proposed for the United States as a whole under the Kyoto Protocol.
On October 29, 2007, a number of governments from around the world announced the formation of the International Carbon Action Partnership. Each of the member governments has either established or is in the process of designing cap and trade systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Partnership will provide a forum for members to share experiences, research, and best practices on the design of trading schemes. This will help the different trading systems develop in a compatible manner to facilitate the transition to a potential global carbon market in the future. The 10 U.S. state members are Arizona, California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Washington. The other members include nine European Union countries, the European Commission, two Canadian provinces, New Zealand and Norway.
The California Air Resources Board announced a set of early measures to help bring the state closer to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as required by California law under AB 32. The new regulations will go into effect in 2010 and will affect the trucking, cement, aluminum, and semiconductor industries as well as ports, consumer aerosol products, and tire inflation requirements. These measures are expected to reduce emissions about 3 million metric tons annually. The board also accepted rules developed by the California Climate Action Registry to standardize the methodology used by nonprofit groups to quantify the carbon credit granted for growing trees or changing management practices. Rules for state, corporate, or private forest practices are not yet developed.
California Air Resources Board
In the first half of October 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed 10 bills promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Solar Water Heating and Efficiency Act of 2007 (AB 1470) requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to create financial incentives for solar hot water systems that will replace the use of natural gas water heaters. Similar incentives already exist for replacing electric hot water heaters under the California Solar Initiative. The incentives will be funded by a surcharge on the bills of most natural gas customers. A second bill, AB 1109, requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to adopt energy efficiency standards for general purpose lights, and is expected to phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs in the state. Under AB 662 and AB 1560, the CEC is allowed to set water standards for appliances and required to incorporate water standards into the state’s existing building standards. For utilities, AB 1103 requires record keeping of energy use for nonresidential buildings, and AB 1613 authorizes the CPUC to require that utilities buy excess power from combined heat and power systems. AB 118 establishes a $2 raise in vehicle registration fees to fund the new Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which will provide financial assistance to develop and deploy low carbon fuels and vehicles. AB 809 limits the use of state funds for hydrogen vehicles and expands the state’s definition of hydropower eligible for renewable energy requirements to include hydropower installed in water supply systems and incremental efficiency improvements at existing facilities. AB 532 extends the original deadline established in 2001 legislation (SBX2 82) for existing state buildings and parking facilities to install solar energy systems where feasible from January 1, 2007, to January 1, 2009. All new state buildings or parking facilities will also have to install solar energy systems where feasible if construction begins on or after January 1, 2008, extended in AB 532 from the original date of January 1, 2003. Finally, SB 1036 eliminates the Renewable Resource Trust Fund and refunds customers.
Governer's Press Release
Legislation: AB 1470, AB 1109, AB 662, AB 1103, AB 1560, AB 118,
AB 809, AB 532, AB 1613, SB 1036
On October 18, 2007, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Roderick Bremby rejected an air permit for a proposed coal-fired power plant based on the threat to public health and the environment of carbon dioxide emissions. In the past, air permits have been denied over emissions such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury, but this marks the first rejection based on impacts from carbon dioxide emissions. The decision was based in part on an April Supreme Court decision that greenhouse gasses should be considered pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The plant was expected to produce 11 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
On September 14, 2007, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin signed Administrative Order 238, establishing the Climate Change Sub-Cabinet. The sub-cabinet will consolidate the state’s knowledge of climate change in order to recommend policies and measures to guide the state’s mitigation and adaptation efforts. It includes the commissioners of the Departments of Commerce, Community and Economic Development; Natural Resources; Fish and Game; Transportation and Public Facilities; and Environmental Conservation (Chair). The Administrative Order also directs the group to consult with the president of the University of Alaska and explore ways to promote development of renewable energy sources such as geothermal, wind, hydroelectric, and tidal resources. Governor also signed a letter adding Alaska as an observer to the Western Climate Initiative.
On September 12, 2007, Governor Timothy M. Kaine of Virginia released the Virginia Energy Plan. The Plan aims to increase the state’s energy independence, conservation, and efficiency, and was drafted pursuant to 2006 legislation which directed the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy to develop a ten-year state energy plan. The recommendations were prepared by an advisory group representing citizens, consumers, the environmental community, and Virginia energy producers. The primary goals of the plan are to reduce the rate of growth in energy use by 40 percent, reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025, and increase in-state energy production by 20 percent. The Plan also recommends consumer energy education, strategic economic development, alternative energy research, and the creation of a Climate Change Commission to assess the level of Virginia’s carbon emissions, related consequences, and potential further action. The Plan is to be updated every 5 years.
On September 12, 2007, the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont decided case number 2:05-cv-302 against a group of automobile manufacturers challenging Vermont’s vehicle emissions standards for greenhouse gases. In August of 2005, the Vermont Air Pollution Control Division introduced an amendment to Vermont’s vehicle regulations. The amendment would require the state to adopt California’s proposed greenhouse gas emissions standards for motor vehicles. The standards would be gradually phased in between model-years 2009 and 2016, and by model-year 2016, would require reductions of tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles of approximately 30 percent. Vermont and 13 other states are poised to adopt the California standards. During the trial, auto industry executives argued that the proposed regulations would fail to stop global warming while imposing heavy costs for the industry. In issuing his ruling, Judge William Sessions III cited public statements of industry representatives, the state of the record, and the ingenuity of the industry in facing previous challenges. A similar legal challenge is still pending in California.