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 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.
The Arizona Corporation Commission introduced new Renewable Energy Standards (formerly known as the Environmental Portfolio Standard) on February 27, 2006. The new rules require regulated electric utilities to generate 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2025. The Commission’s Renewable Energy Standards specify what technologies qualify and allow for the addition of new technologies as they become feasible. Customers will face a slight higher Environmental Portfolio Surcharge to offset the cost of compliance; this surcharge will be capped at $1.05 per month for residential customers. If a utility does not meet the standard, however, the Commission may assess a penalty for non-compliance. The new rules also require a growing percentage of the total resource portfolio to come from distributed generation.
On February 16, 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously decided to establish a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. The cap will initially cover electricity retailers, and will include natural gas utilities over the longer term. The CPUC’s decision follows Governor Schwarzenegger’s announcement of GHG reduction targets last June and is consistent with the recommendations included in the California Climate Action Team’s recent draft report. The CPUC plans to define the implementation phase through a public process, and preference will be given to flexible compliance options such as offsets, trading, banking, and borrowing. All power purchase agreements signed by the utilities will require the supplier to register its emissions with the California Climate Action Registry and sales of excess allowances outside the state will be allowed. Costs and benefits of the framework that emerges in the implementation phase will be evaluated by CPUC.
February 8, 2006
Contact: Katie Mandes, (703) 516-0606
PEW CENTER ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE RELEASES FIRST COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO CLIMATE CHANGE
All Sectors Must Share in Solution
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Pew Center on Global Climate Change released the first comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The Agenda for Climate Action identifies both broad and specific policies, combining recommendations on economy-wide mandatory emissions cuts, technology development, scientific research, energy supply, and adaptation with critical steps that can be taken in key sectors. The report is the culmination of a two-year effort that articulates a pragmatic course of action across all areas of the economy.
The report calls for a combination of technology and policy and urges action in six key areas: (1) science and technology, (2) market-based programs, (3) sectoral emissions, (4) energy production and use, (5) adaptation, and (6) international engagement. Within these six areas, the Agenda outlines fifteen specific recommendations that should be started now, including U.S. domestic reductions and engagement in the international negotiation process. All the recommendations are capable of implementation in the near-term.
The report concludes that there is no single technology fix, no single policy instrument, and no single sector that can solve this problem on its own. Rather, a combination of technology investment and market development will provide for the most cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gases, and will create a thriving market for GHG-reducing technologies. To address climate change without placing the burden on any one group, the report urges actions throughout the economy.
“Some believe the answer to addressing climate change lies in technology incentives. Others say limiting emissions is the only answer. We need both,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center.
Emissions in the United States continue to rise at an alarming rate. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have grown by more than 18% since 1990, and the Department of Energy now projects that they will increase by another 37% by 2030.
Joining the Pew Center at the announcement were representatives from the energy and manufacturing sectors. Speaking at the release were: David Hone, Group Climate Change Adviser, Shell International Limited; Melissa Lavinson, Director, Federal Environmental Affairs and Corporate Responsibility, PG&E Corporation; Bill Gerwing, Western Hemisphere Health, Safety, Security, and Environment Director, BP; John Stowell, Vice President, Environmental Strategy, Federal Affairs and Sustainability, Cinergy Corp., Ruksana Mirza, Vice President, Environmental Affairs, Holcim (US) Inc.; and Tom Catania, Vice President, Government Relations, Whirlpool Corporation.
While actions are needed across all sectors, some steps will have a more significant, far-reaching impact on emissions than others and must be undertaken as soon as possible.
- A program to cap emissions from large sources and allow for emissions trading will send a signal to curb releases of greenhouse gases while promoting a market for new technologies.
- Transportation is responsible for roughly one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions, and this report addresses this sector through tradable emissions standards for vehicles.
- Because energy is at the core of the climate change problem, the report makes several recommendations in this area: calling for increased efficiency in buildings and products, as well as in electricity generation and distribution. Incentives and a nationwide platform to track and trade renewable energy credits are recommended to support increased renewable power. In recognition of the key role that coal plays in U.S. energy supply, the report calls for the capture and sequestration of carbon that results from burning coal. Nuclear power currently provides a substantial amount of non-emitting electricity, and is therefore important to keep in the generation mix. The report recommends support for advanced generation of nuclear power, while noting that issues such as safety and waste disposal must also be addressed.
- While most of the recommendations focus on mitigation efforts, the report acknowledges that some impacts are inevitable and are already being seen. As a result, it proposes development of a national adaptation strategy to plan for a climate-changing world.
- Finally, despite the importance of efforts by individual countries on this issue, climate change cannot be addressed without engagement of the broader international community. The report recommends that the U.S. participate in international negotiations aimed at curbing global greenhouse gas emissions by all major emitting countries.
Other recommendations include: long-term stable research funding, incentives for low-carbon fuels and consumer products, funding for biological sequestration, expanding the natural gas supply and distribution network, and a mandatory greenhouse gas reporting program that can provide a stepping stone to economy-wide emissions trading.
The full text of this and other Pew Center reports is available at http://www.c2es.org.
The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States’ largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment. The Pew Center is an independent, nonprofit, and non-partisan 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.
On February 7, 2006, a bipartisan group of state legislators throughout the Midwest announced their commitment to address climate and clean energy in their states. These legislators from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, have introduced various pieces of legislation to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, vehicle emissions, and greenhouse gas registries. The legislators are also working to encourage coal gasification and carbon sequestration, a key issue for Midwestern states that rely heavily on coal-fired generation. The legislators are working with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators to coordinate their actions. NCEL is a non-partisan organization of legislators committed to protecting the environment.