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 August 7, 2008, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the Global Warming Solutions Act, S2540, which requires the Commonwealth to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The bill calls for the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to set an interim target of between 10 and 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, as well as targets for 2030 and 2040. Previously, the Commonwealth had reduction goals of 1990 levels by 2010 and 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, with a long-term goal of reducing emissions to avoid dangerous climate change.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for determining 1990 baseline emission and calculating 2020 “business as usual” levels, assuming no action is taken. A plan to achieve the 2020 limit shall be adopted by January 1, 2011, with market-based mechanisms to be considered as a method for achieving these targets.
On July 24, 2008, the Wisconsin Task Force on Global Warming released its Final Report outlining a variety of recommendations for the state to address climate change and reduce its use of fossil fuels. The Final Report recommends both short- and long-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions of reaching 2005 levels by 2014, achieving a 22 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2022, and reaching a 75 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2050.
The Final Report provides over 50 policy recommendations including a federal or regional cap-and-trade program, as well as sector-specific policies focusing on utilities, transportation, industry, waste management, and agriculture and forestry.
On August 6, 2008, the South Carolina Climate, Energy, and Commerce Advisory Committee released its final report outlining specific recommendations for state-level policies to mitigate climate change. The final report recommends a voluntary, economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target of five percent below 1990 levels by 2020. To achieve this goal, 51 specific policies are recommended to reduce GHG emissions and address other issues pertaining to climate, energy, and commerce. Of these 51 recommendations, 38 were analyzed for their cumulative effect on achieving the GHG emissions target and 33 were analyzed for their costs or cost savings. The report found that the implementation of the 38 policies would nearly achieve the GHG emissions target and that the average cost of the 33 policies would be approximately $5 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced.
South Carolina Climate, Energy, and Commerce Committee Final Report
On July 28, 2008, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed HB 4951, the Clean Energy Biofuels Act. The act grants a state gasoline tax exemption to “eligible cellulosic biofuels.” The gasoline tax exemption applies to biofuels that (1) yield a 60 percent reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to the petroleum based fuel it displaces and (2) come from a cellulosic feedstock, such as switchgrass, agricultural waste, or forest products, rather than a conventional feedstock, such as corn or soybeans. Cellulosic biofuels are produced from the stalks,
News Release: For Immediate Release — July 28, 2008
Alexia Kelly, The Climate Trust, 541-514-3633
Tom Steinfeldt, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, 703-516-4146
NONPROFIT COALITION ISSUES RECOMMENDATIONS FOR
DESIGN OF GHG OFFSET PROGRAMS IN CAP-AND-TRADE SYSTEMS
Group Receives Major Grant from the Energy Foundation
PORTLAND and WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Offset Quality Initiative (OQI) will release a white paper today in San Diego at a briefing to be held before the opening of the Western Climate Initiative stakeholder meeting. Titled “Ensuring Offset Quality: Integrating High Quality Greenhouse Gas Offsets Into Cap-and-Trade Policy,” the document offers policymakers practical recommendations regarding the integration of greenhouse gas offsets into emerging regulatory systems at the state, regional and federal levels. OQI, a coalition of six leading non-profit organizations—The Climate Trust, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, California Climate Action Registry, Environmental Resources Trust, Greenhouse Gas Management Institute, and The Climate Group—was founded in November 2007 to provide leadership on GHG offset policy and best practices.
“The availability of high-quality offsets is key to containing the cost of climate policy while delivering real greenhouse gas emission reductions,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “A rigorous and adaptable offset program design can ensure that offsets play a valuable role in an effective cap-and-trade system. OQI’s work will assist policymakers seeking to develop core components of a credible offsets program.”
In addition to regulatory design guidelines, the white paper addresses the key criteria for offset quality and discusses offset project types most appropriate for inclusion in emerging regulatory systems. OQI member organizations will discuss their recommendations with policymakers and other stakeholders over the next several weeks, beginning with today’s briefing in San Diego.
“Establishing confidence in the environmental integrity of offsets is critical for the successful launch and acceptance of future cap and trade regulatory systems. The goal of our paper is to provide policymakers with well-conceived and comprehensive recommendations for offset program design based on the collective knowledge and experience of the OQI members. Each nonprofit member of the coalition is a well-respected and established organization in climate change and brings valuable experience and knowledge to the group,” said Gary Gero, President of the California Climate Action Registry.
OQI recently received a one-year grant of $235,000 from the Energy Foundation to support its work. “We were excited and honored to receive the grant,” said Mike Burnett, Executive Director of The Climate Trust, which was awarded the grant on behalf of OQI. “This generous support from the Energy Foundation highlights the need for the unique work and perspective of OQI. We will use the funds to continue to advance sound greenhouse gas offset policy.”
For a copy of the white paper or for more information on the briefing, please visit www.offsetqualityinitiative.org.
About the Offset Quality Initiative
The Offset Quality Initiative (OQI) was founded in November 2007 to provide leadership on greenhouse gas offset policy and best practices. OQI is a collaborative, consensus-based effort that brings together the collective expertise of its six nonprofit member organizations: The Climate Trust, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, California Climate Action Registry, the Environmental Resources Trust, Greenhouse Gas Management Institute, and The Climate Group.
The four primary objectives of the Offset Quality Initiative are:
- To provide leadership, education, and expert analysis on the issues and challenges related to the design and use of offsets in climate change policy.
- To identify, articulate, and promote key principles that ensure the quality of greenhouse gas emission offsets.
- To advance the integration of those principles in emerging climate change policies at the state, regional, and federal levels.
- To serve as a source of credible information on greenhouse gas offsets, leveraging the diverse collective knowledge and experience of OQI members.
On July 24, 2008, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) announced the release of auction materials for North America’s first CO2 emission allowance auction. RGGI is a cooperative effort by ten Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions by power plants through a CO2 cap-and-trade system that will officially start on January 1, 2009. The release of auction materials marked the start of a 60-day countdown to the first auction, which will be held between 9 AM and 12 PM EDT on September 25, 2008. The online auction will place on the market 12,565,387 CO2 emission allowances for purchase by electric utilities.
RGGI Auction Materials
On July 18, 2008, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that Ontario will join three other Canadian provinces and seven U.S. states as a full partner of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). The WCI is a regional collaboration with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Among other policy tools, it is currently developing a multi-sector cap-and-trade program. With the inclusion of Ontario, provinces representing roughly seventy percent of Canadian citizens are now WCI members.
Map of Regional Initiatives
Western Climate Initiative
On July 2, 2008, Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts signed The Green Communities Act, SB 2768, which expands alternative and renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts. The legislation includes a variety of strategies for increasing alternative and renewable energy and energy efficiency across multiple sectors, including electricity, buildings, and transportation.
A number of provisions in the bill relate to renewable and alternative energy. SB 2768 mandates that the state’s renewable portfolio standard will grow one percent each year beyond the current standard of 4 percent in 2009, so that renewable energy will provide 15 percent of electricity generation by 2020 and 25 percent by 2030. The groundwork was also established for the Department of Energy Resources to establish an alternative energy portfolio standard requiring that a percentage of electricity be derived by approved alternative energy sources, including gasified coal with carbon capture and sequestration. The legislation also establishes long-term contracts for renewable energy providers and approved of net metering provisions.
Among the energy efficiency measures in the legislation are mandates for electric and natural gas utilities to invest in energy efficiency programs, the creation of a council to oversee the implementation of energy efficiency programs, adoption of new building energy codes, and the creation of the Green Communities program to support municipal efficiency and conservation programs. Under the Green Communities program, the state will develop a plan to reduce total energy consumption 10 percent by 2017. SB 2768 directs utilities to invest in energy efficiency measures to meet increased electricity demand whenever doing so is more cost-effective than buying new power or constructing additional power plants. The bill also mandates that by 2020, 25 percent of the state’s electric load will be met using demand side resources including energy efficiency, load management, combined heat and power, and others measures. In addition, fossil fuel use in buildings will be reduced 10 percent below 2007 by 2020 through improved building equipment and efficiency measures. The legislation also calls for half of the state government fleet of vehicles to be made up of hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles by 2018.
Additionally, the legislation authorizes the auction of all allowances issued under the northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Funds collected from the auction are directed to support the administration of the cap-and-trade program, as well as a variety of energy efficiency programs.
On June 30, 2008, Delware’s Governor Ruth Ann Minner signed into law SB 263, authorizing the state to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a cap-and-trade system being developed by nine other mid-Atlantic and northeastern states. The legislation authorizes the adoption of regulations by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for full participation in RGGI when it begins January 1, 2009. In addition, SB 263 outlines how revenue collected from allowance auctions should be distributed, with 65 percent going to the Sustainable Energy Utility, 15 percent to Weatherization Assistance and Low Income Heating Assistance programs, 10 percent to greenhouse gas reduction projects selected through a competitive grant process, and up to 10 percent for administration of climate change programs.
On June 30, 2008, Judge Moore of Georgia’s Fulton County Superior Court revoked a permit for construction of a proposed 1200-megawatt coal-fired power plant in the state. Ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, Judge Moore found that the permit filed by Longleaf Energy and approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division failed to consider the best available pollution control technology (BACT) to mitigate harm caused by the proposed plant’s estimated annual emissions of 8-9 million tons of CO2. The defense had argued that a BACT analysis was unnecessary because CO2 is not a pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act (CAA). In rejecting the defense’s argument, Judge Moore cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s April, 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the Court found that CO2 does qualify as a harmful pollutant that the United States Environmental Protection Agency must consider regulating under the CAA. The ruling in Georgia marks the first instance in which a permit has been revoked in court due to concerns over CO2 emissions. The defendants plan to appeal the ruling.
Our Analysis of Massachusetts v. EPA