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 9, 2006 the Alaska Legislature passed HCR 30. With unanimous votes in both the House and in the Senate, the bill creates an Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Commission. The Commission is charged with assessing the impacts and costs of climate change to Alaska, as well as developing recommendations for preventative measures that can be implemented by Alaskan communities and governments. The Commission will consist of eleven members, including four public officials and seven appointed members who are knowledgeable about the impacts of climate change on Alaska. The Commission, required to meet eight times, will present preliminary findings to the legislature on March 1, 2007, followed by its final report on January 10, 2008. Because of its nature as strictly a legislative action, funded with legislative monies, the bill does not need the Governor’s approval.
On May 2, 2006, ten states led by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed a lawsuit against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to address greenhouse gas emissions in its new fuel economy standards for S.U.V. and light trucks. The states, California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont, were joined by the District of Columbia and New York City. The new rules, which will be in effect from 2008 through 2011, are considerably less stringent than California and nine other states’ limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The lawsuit also states that the new standards will have negative implication for air quality and the climate, because the weight-based standards will create incentives to build larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles.
On April 27, 2006, ten states, including New York, California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its decision not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions as a contributor to global warming. The states, led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and joined by the cities of Washington, D.C. and New York and by environmental groups, urged the federal government to require tighter controls on GHG emissions from new power plants. EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Wood said the agency will review all options and make an informed decision on how to proceed.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced the members of its Climate Change Advisory Council on April 26, 2006. Last December, Governor Brian Schweitzer directed the head of the Montana DEQ to form the group. The Advisory Group will recommend strategies to reduce and sequester greenhouse gas emissions, and to promote economic growth, for example, through energy efficiency and renewable energy investments. The members of the group include representatives of the energy industry, environmental groups, and government. The council will hold its first meeting in July 2006 and is expected to develop a Climate Change Action Plan by July 2007.
On April 12, 2006, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved new regulations that strengthen the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). This BPU decision requires utilities to increase the percentage of electricity that they produce from renewable energy sources from 4% in 2008 up to 20% by 2020. In general the RPS can be met through a variety of renewables, but solar photovoltaic systems are specifically required to increase to 2 percent by 2020. The RPS allows the trading of Renewable Energy Certificates for compliance. The new regulations are expected to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 7.65 million tons and of nitrogen oxides by over 14 thousand tons.
On April 11, 2006, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed an executive order requiring all state government buildings to conform to “green building” standards. The order, which applies to both existing buildings and future construction, directs the WI Department of Administration to establish standards based on the U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification. LEED emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. Over the next few years, the state will determine how best to meet these standards in all of the state government buildings. Through the implementation of these standards, the state expects to reduce its energy bill up to 30 percent. This executive order also requires that overall energy usage in state government buildings be reduced by 10 percent by 2008 and 20 percent by 2010.
Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signed into law the Healthy Air Act on April 6, 2006. The bill requires the Governor to include the state in the northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by June 30, 2007. The state will also study the reliability and cost implications of joining RGGI. Maryland is the eighth state to join the program, which establishes a carbon dioxide emissions cap and trade program for power plants in the region. These emissions are capped at current levels in 2009, and then reduced 10% by 2019. The Healthy Air Act also mandates reductions in nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and mercury emissions from coal-fired electric power plants.
Our RGGI information
On April 3, 2006, the California Climate Action Team released its recommendations to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California legislature. The Climate Action Team identified nine key recommendations to meet the Governor's emission reduction targets, including a multi-sector, market-based system that includes trading, mandatory reporting of GHG emissions reporting, an aggressive alternative fuels program and a coordinated investment strategy for the development of emission reduction technologies. The report contains 46 specific emission reduction strategies that also include energy efficiency programs, new automotive emission reduction measures, the development of alternative fuels, and forest conservation measures. The report was completed at the request of Governor Schwarzenegger, who signed an executive order on June 1, 2005 directing state officials to develop plans that would reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions by 11% below current levels by 2010, 25% by 2020, and 80% by 2050. According to the report, these emission reduction goals are achievable and beneficial to California's economy.
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle substantially increased the state’s Renewable Portfolio standard by signing Senate Bill 459, the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act, on March 21, 2006. The revised RPS requires utilities to produce 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2015. The Act increases funding to local governments for energy efficiency projects and requires Wisconsin utilities to directly support energy efficiency programs (ensuring that $85 million a year is spent to promote energy efficiency). It also requires the state to support the research and development of agricultural digesters and to launch a pilot residential heating program using leftover corn plants. Finally, the legislation requires the state to purchase 20 percent of the energy for the six largest state agencies from renewable sources by 2011, to include higher energy efficiency standards in building codes, and to create specific energy standards for state building projects.
Concerned about the potential impacts of climate change in the region, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson signed an agreement to create the Southwest Climate Change Initiative on February 28, 2006. The two states will collaborate through their respective Climate Change Advisory Groups, to identify options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting climate change mitigation, energy efficient technologies and clean energy sources. The Governors expect that these actions to address climate change will also spur economic growth. Under the Southwest Climate Change Initiative, Arizona and New Mexico will also advocate for regional and national climate policies.