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

Maryland Governor Signs Energy Efficiency and Climate Change Legislation

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On April 24, 2008, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law several pieces of energy and climate change legislation.  Senate Bill 208, the High Performance Buildings Act, sets a statewide green building standard for public buildings, requiring that all new construction or major renovation projects that receive state funds must achieve either the LEED Silver standard or two Green Globes.  In addition, between 2009 and 2014, the act requires the state to pay for half of the additional cost required for public schools to meet the new green building standard.

Senate Bill 205, the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008, establishes a statewide goal of reducing per capita electricity consumption and peak energy demand by 15 percent by 2015.  Senate Bill 209 strengthens Maryland’s existing renewable portfolio standard, established in 2007.  Whereas the RPS previously required that 9.5 percent of Maryland’s energy needs must be met by renewable sources by 2022, SB 209 raises the goal to 20 percent by the same date.

Press Release
SB 208
; SB 205; SB 209
State Green Building Standards
State Energy Efficiency Standards
State Renewable Portfolio Standards

Hawaii Enacts Climate and Energy Bills

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Since May, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle has enacted several renewable energy and efficiency statutes.  Combined, the legislation should help Hawaii achieve the goals of its RPS target of 20% by 2020 and its Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative goal of 70% by 2030.  Signed by Governor Lingle on January 28, 2008, the Initiative aims to reduce Hawaii’s reliance on imported fossil fuels, which currently supply 90% of its energy, by as much as 72%.  Hawaii currently has the highest electricity prices in the nation.

In late May, Governor Lingle signed HB 3179, which streamlines the approval process for biofuel producers to lease state lands.  She also approved SB 2034, SB 3190, and HB 2168, which authorize financing for a wave energy generator, a solar energy facility, and a hydrogen generation facility, respectively.

On June 6, the Governor signed bills SB 988 and HB 2550, authorizing net metering and residential photovoltaic rebates, respectively.  On June 26 she approved SB 644, which requires solar water heaters in all new homes starting in January, 2010.

On July 1, Governor Lingle approved: HB 2863, which streamlines the permitting process for large renewable facilities; HB 2505, which creates a full-time renewable energy facilitator; and HB 2261, which provides loans of up to $1.5 million for farm-based renewable energy projects.

Clean Energy Initiative Press Release
Clean Energy Initiative Memorandum of Understanding
Clean Energy Initiative
HB 3179, SB 2034, SB 3190, HB 2168, SB 988, HB 2550, SB 644, HB 2863, HB 2505, HB 2261

Press Release: New Paper Examines Key Federal and State Roles in U.S. Climate Policy

Press Release
June 27, 2008

Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, (703) 516-4146 

Shared Responsibilities Can Help Meet Climate Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Of the myriad challenges facing policymakers as they seek to take action on climate change, determining the appropriate respective roles of federal and state governments within comprehensive national legislation is one of the most difficult. In the absence of federal leadership, states are fulfilling their key functions as policy innovators and drivers of new ideas. From their participation in regional greenhouse gas reduction efforts to the implementation of low-carbon energy standards, states are taking action to curb emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

While state action is an important component of climate policy, achieving the significant emissions reductions needed to tackle climate change requires comprehensive national action. A new paper released by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change explores this challenge by examining how to best delineate federal and state government roles in crafting a new national climate change policy.

“Toward a Constructive Dialogue on Federal and State Roles in U.S. Climate Change Policy” delivers critical insights into national climate policy approaches that seek to balance federal and state responsibilities. The paper, authored by Franz T. Litz of the World Resources Institute, explores a range of policy options from heavy reliance on federal action to state-dominated policy prescriptions. While political decisions will greatly influence any eventual national climate plan, this paper explains that a well-designed policy will leverage the strengths of each level of government.   

“In order to reduce emissions cost-effectively and to the levels scientists say are necessary, we need the federal government to step up to the plate at the same time the states are doing their part,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “As this paper makes clear, a strong U.S. climate policy will take advantage of the things states do well – such as building efficiency codes and smart growth – and let Washington do things that only Washington can do, such as developing a national cap-and-trade system and negotiating with other countries. There are many ways for states to play a role in the cap-and-trade program, and the national legislation should explicitly address this. I think there is more than enough responsibility and hard work to go around.”

The paper examines shared authority between federal and state governments while providing relevant context for determining appropriate roles. Key sections of the paper include:

  • An historical overview of state and federal actions and shared authority on environmental issues;
  • A summary of federal preemption in the United States;
  • The federal-state partnership under the Clean Air Act; and
  • The benefits and challenges in possible policy approaches.

This paper was first presented in draft form at the Pew Center’s workshop on Innovative Approaches to Climate Change, held in February 2008. The event brought together legislative staff and officials from state and federal governments to share their experience developing climate policies, and to discuss the appropriate roles of each level of government in implementing future national policy. Participants explored how federal policy might be informed by, and interact with, existing state efforts.

For more information about global climate change and the activities of the Pew Center, visit www.c2es.org.


The Pew Center was established in May 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Florida Governor Signs Energy and Climate Change Bill

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On June 25, 2008, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed into law House Bill 7135, enacting several new energy and climate change policies.  The policies include the Florida Climate Protection Act, which authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to develop an electric-utility greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade program.  Pending legislative approval of the final plan, the cap-and-trade program may begin operation as soon as January 1, 2010.  Among other goals, the program will develop a timeline to reduce electric sector GHG emissions to 2000 levels by 2017, 1990 levels by 2025, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2005, in accordance with Governor Crist’s Executive Order 07-127 from July 2007.

In addition, the bill directs the Public Service Commission to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard for public utilities, requires utilities to develop standardized net metering programs for customer-owned renewable energy generation, and directs the Public Service Commission to investigate utility revenue decoupling.  It also establishes the Florida Energy and Climate Commission, which will execute many of the statute’s provisions, and the Florida Energy Systems Consortium, a collaboration of the state universities tasked to develop and implement a strategic energy plan for the state.  Furthermore, the bill sets a statewide 10-percent ethanol Renewable Fuel Standard to be achieved by December 31, 2010, increases energy efficiency targets in the Florida Building Code by 50 percent by 2019, and mandates that all state-financed building construction and renovation comply with green building standards.

Press Release
HB 7135
Analysis of HB 7135
Executive Order 17-127
Florida Climate Actions

California’s Air Resources Board Unveils Draft GHG Reduction Plan

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On June 26, 2008, California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) unveiled a draft Scoping Plan designed to reduce state greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 as mandated by The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, AB 32. The plan outlines a variety of strategies for achieving the required reductions. Key features of the plan include developing a state cap-and-trade program that will link to the Western Climate Initiative’s forthcoming regional cap-and-trade program, increasing California’s renewable portfolio standard from 20 by 2010 to 33 percent by 2020, establishing new vehicle efficiency standards, setting higher building and appliance efficiency standards, and implementing a low carbon fuel standard. The full suite of proposed strategies can be found in the draft Scoping Plan.

The ARB is scheduled to vote on the Scoping Plan in November 2008 after a series of public workshops. Once adopted, the mechanisms are scheduled to be in place by 2012.

ARB Scoping Plan
AB 32

New York Launches Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard

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On June 23, 2008, the New York Public Service Commission approved the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS).  The EEPS will reduce electricity consumption 15 percent below projected levels by 2015, equivalent to a 7.5 percent reduction from current levels.  In contrast, if existing trends continue unabated, electricity use in 2015 in New York is expected to increase by 11 percent.

The EEPS will stimulate investment in energy efficiency by promoting currently available technologies, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, solar hot water heaters, and insulating wraps for hot water tanks.  It also authorizes incentives to encourage the purchase of energy efficient appliances, such as boilers, furnaces, air conditioners, and clothes washers.  In addition, the EEPS will provide weatherization services for low-income households, energy retrofits for small businesses.

Press Release
Order establishing EEPS
State Energy Efficiency Resource Standards

Utah Announces Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal

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On June 20, 2008, Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal of reducing statewide GHG emissions to 2005 levels by 2020.  The GHG will be achieved using several policy tools, including: increased reliance on renewable energy sources; policies to reduce energy demand and increase efficiency; mass transit policies; and participation in the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) GHG cap-and-trade program.  Utah DEQ estimated that if all the recommended policies are implemented, that state’s 2020 CO2 emissions will be 28 percent below business-as-usual projected levels.  Utah is one of seven states and three Canadian provinces participating in the WCI.

Press Release
Western Climate Initiative
State Target GHG Emissions

Washington Adopts Rules for Emissions Performance Standard

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On June 19, 2008, the Washington Department of Ecology completed rulemaking for the adoption of a statewide Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) established in 2007 as part of a broader legislative package designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The EPS will go into effect on July 19, 2008.

The EPS requires baseload electricity generation facilities to meet a greenhouse gas emission limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour. This limit will be reviewed and adjusted every five years to match the average emissions rate of new combined-cycle natural gas power plants. The EPS applies both to new in-state baseload electric generation and to out-of-state generation imported under long-term contracts that begin on July 1, 2008 or later. The EPS does not apply to permanently sequestered emissions.

Text of the New Rule

Toward a Constructive Dialogue on Federal and State Roles in U.S. Climate Change Policy

State Fed Roles


Toward a Constructive Dialogue on Federal and State Roles in U.S. Climate Change Policy

Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
June 2008

Franz T. Litz, Esq.
Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute

Press release

Download entire white paper (pdf)


In the United States to date, most of the first genuine steps toward addressing the challenge of climate change have taken place at the state level.1 Many states have proceeded in a meaningful, comprehensive fashion while the federal government struggles to take its first significant step toward legislative or regulatory action. Yet it is clear that these state actions, even when taken together, are not enough to put the United States on a course to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the level deemed necessary by the science. Nationwide action requiring reductions in all 50 states will be necessary. Assuming the federal government will eventually put such a comprehensive program in place, however, a number of questions arise as to the appropriate division of responsibilities between state and federal governments across the many areas where climate change action is needed.

Given the relative historical competencies of state and federal governments, it is neither desirable nor likely that the federal government will step in comprehensively to eliminate any state role in tackling climate change. Indeed, some areas central to climate change policy, such as smart growth and land use planning, fall within the near-exclusive purview of state and local governments. At the other extreme are international climate change negotiations leading to international agreements, which is a matter for exclusive federal control. Most areas relevant to climate change policy, however, fall between these two extremes and have historically been shared by both state and federal governments.

Against the current and historical jurisdictional backdrop, the key question is not whether responsibility for climate change action should rest exclusively with the federal government or the states, but rather how the federal government and the states should share responsibility for tackling the problem. It is difficult to imagine the federal government stepping in to assume exclusive and broad authority over all activities in the United States that contribute to climate change. Because legal authority is already shared in many of these areas, the appropriate questions relate to the degree to which state and federal governments will continue to share responsibility. Will the path forward rely most heavily on the states to tackle the problem, with the federal government stepping in to make sure all states are acting with comparable vigor? Or will future climate change policy place the federal government in the dual role of both devising and implementing policy from Washington, D.C., perhaps with the states acting as local enforcers? Or will Congress devise an approach that places certain key responsibilities with federal agencies while vesting other key responsibilities with the states?

This paper aims to further a constructive dialogue on the appropriate roles for state and federal government in meeting the challenge of climate change in the United States. Section II includes a brief overview of the climate change actions taken by states, a review of the common issues that have arisen in the debate over state action, and a brief exposition of the relevant historical areas of federal and state authority. Section III summarizes the law of federal preemption to provide a basic understanding of the various way state policy can be affected by federal action. Section IV briefly explores the state and federal partnership established under the federal Clean Air Act for reducing air pollution, noting some key experiences with the Clean Air Act as it relates to the division of federal and state responsibility. Section V examines three possible approaches to comprehensive nationwide climate change action, taking into account the challenges and benefits associated with each option. Section VI sets out some key conclusions, questions, and principles for a continuing dialogue on these issues.In the United States to date, states have taken most of the significant actions to address climate change. Yet enactment of a nationwide program requiring reductions across the entire United States is both necessary and increasingly likely. This prospect raises a number of questions as to the appropriate division of responsibilities between state and federal governments across the many areas where climate change action is needed. The key question is not whether responsibility for climate change action should rest exclusively with the federal government or the states, but rather how and to what degree the federal government and the states should share responsibility for tackling the problem.

A number of arguments exist to support state-level action on climate change. States have historically played a role as effective first-movers on important environmental issues, functioning as policy innovators, testing policies that have later been adopted at the federal level. States also bring an understanding of the unique circumstances within their boundaries and a familiarity with their stakeholders. States drive federal action, sometimes insisting that policies be strengthened even after the federal government has acted.

There are also numerous arguments in favor of a strong federal role in climate policy. A federal program would bring every state into the climate change effort and tend to level the playing field for businesses in all 50 states. Federal action offers a platform for engaging with other nations in forging an international emissions reduction agreement. A national GHG cap-and-trade program would keep costs manageable and drive climatefriendly technological innovation, and could link with other markets around the world.

Given the strong reasons for both state and federal action on climate change, it is perhaps not surprising that historically state and federal governments have chosen to share authority over most areas where climate change action is needed. This is true across most air pollution control, energy supply, energy efficiency, transportation, forestry and agricultural policy areas. Rather than asking whether federal or state government is best able to address climate change, the more relevant question is which level of government should tackle which parts of the challenge.

Precisely how to delineate state and federal roles in a comprehensive nationwide climate change program should be the focus of a constructive national dialogue. This paper evaluates several possible approaches along a continuum from heavy reliance on federal action to heavy reliance on state action. The scenarios examined differ in the degree to which responsibility for reductions is shared between federal and state governments, but each recognizes that some action will be required at both levels.

Federal action on climate change is needed to achieve the significant reductions science demands and to establish a minimum level of uniformity across the U.S. economy. This federal action can preserve room for states to continue in their important roles as policy innovators, on-the-ground implementers, and policy drivers, and to capitalize on the significant experience in the states across the many aspects of climate change action. A federal climate change program will be most successful if it is designed with the relative strengths of each level of government in mind.

About the Author


Franz T. Litz, Esq.

Franz Litz is a Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute.  Before joining WRI, he served four years as the Climate Change Policy Coordinator for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In that role, Franz served as New York’s principal representative to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  He is currently engaged in advising the Western Climate Initiative and is also active in ongoing state and regional climate action in the U.S. Midwest.



Related Material:

Innovative Approaches to Climate Change: A State and Federal Workshop
February 2008


Franz T. Litz

Ohio Appropriates $150 Million for Alternative Energy and Coal Research

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On June 12, 2008, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland signed HB 554, a $1.57 billion economic stimulus package.  Included among the appropriations are $84 million over three years devoted to low-carbon energy sources including wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and solid waste energy sources.  It also includes funding for distributed electricity generation, combined-heat-and-power, nuclear power and fuel cells.  In addition, the bill appropriates $66 million to research and develop technologies to reduce coal emissions.

Press Release
HB 554

Analysis of HB 554

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