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

Delaware Enacts Legislation on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

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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.

Press Release
SB 263

Georgia Court Rejects Proposed Coal-Fired Plant Over GHG Emissions Concerns

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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  The ruling in Georgia marks the first instance in which a permit has been revoked in court due to concerns over CO2 emissions.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

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

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