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

States Take Action on Energy Efficiency Standards for Appliances

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On January 20, 2004, the State of Maryland passed a law requiring stricter energy efficiency standards for nine residential and commercial appliances. The law covers ceiling fans, torchiere lighting fixtures, commercial washers, refrigerators, heaters and air conditioners, traffic signals, illuminated exit signs, and building transformers. Similar bills have been introduced in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Illinois and Florida. California is already developing tougher standards for 15 appliances under a directive from its state legislature. The Maryland law is based on model standards proposed by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. Appliances meeting the new standards are already widely available. Maryland residents and businesses are expected to save over $620 million in energy costs and reduce carbon emissions by approximately 192,000 metric tons by the year 2020, according to Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, Inc.

Read the Model Standards

Governor of West Virginia Proposes Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases

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In his 2004 State of the State Message, West Virginia Governor Bob Wise announced his intention to establish a state requirement for reporting of greenhouse gases. In the address, delivered January 14, 2004, Governor Wise said, "We can no longer bury our head in the sand on the issue of greenhouse gases. To protect the vitality of West Virginia's energy-based economy, we must continue to take a leadership role on climate change issues. We are taking the first step to understand the effects of greenhouse gases by introducing legislation to require facilities to register their emissions of greenhouse gases." The proposed legislation would grant the state's Department of Environmental Protection the authority to develop reporting requirements.

Visit Gov. Wise's website on the State of the State

Midwest Workshop

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On November 4 and 5, 2003, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, under a grant from the Joyce Foundation, held a workshop in Chicago, IL, on State Policy Solutions to Climate Change.  This workshop brought together state officials from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.  State agencies represented included Agriculture, Commerce, Natural Resources, Environmental Protection, Administration, Energy, and Transportation.  The purpose of the workshop was to have state officials share their experiences in implementing programs that reduce greenhouse gases and to reflect on the lessons learned. 

Proceedings from the workshop
List of participants

West Coast Governors Announce Collaboration on Climate Change

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The governors of the three Pacific states announced September 22, 2003, that they would work together to develop policies that address climate change. Governors Ted Kulongoski of Oregon, Gray Davis of California, and Gary Locke of Washington have directed their staffs to cooperate during the next year to arrive at policy recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The recommendations, which are to be presented to the governors no later than September 1, 2004, will address ways that the three states can work together to obtain fuel efficient vehicles, reduce emissions from diesel fuel, encourage renewable energy production, implement uniform efficiency standards, and develop coordinated greenhouse gas emission inventories, protocols for reporting, and accounting methods for greenhouse gas emissions. "Our current federal policies will not lead to a reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gasses associated with climate change," said Governor Locke. "The governors of the West Coast states have concluded that in the absence of meaningful federal action, we must act individually and regionally to address the sources of global warming".

Read the Joint Statement of the Governors

Automakers Drop California Zero Emissions Lawsuit

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General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, and Isuzu announced August 12, 2003, that they had reached a settlement with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) regarding California's 1990 zero emission vehicle legislation. The companies agreed to drop their lawsuit in exchange for modifications made to the rule. The adapted rule gives companies two choices for meeting their ZEV requirements. The first option is to sell a mix of zero emission vehicles, hybrid-electric vehicles, and extremely clean gasoline-powered vehicles, adding up to ten percent of total vehicles sales. Instead of fulfilling the zero-emission portion of that mix, automakers may choose to produce a certain number of fuel cell vehicles, beginning with a sales-weighted market share of 250 fuel cell vehicles in 2008 and rising gradually to reach 50,000 vehicles in 2015.

Go to ARB's Zero Emission Vehicle webpage

Northeast Governors Announce Regional Initiative

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Governors from ten Northeast states announced July 24, 2003, that they would join together in a regional strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. New York's Governor Pataki sent out letters in April to the governors from ten other Northeast states requesting their participation in the development of a regional cap-and-trade program. The governors from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey responded with interest in working with New York. Maryland declined to participate now, but may join discussions later.

Press Release

Connecticut Modifies Its Renewable Portfolio Standard

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On June 26, 2003, Connecticut Governor John Rowland signed legislation amending the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Connecticut's RPS defines two categories of renewable energy, Class I and Class II, and sets separate requirements for both classes. Under the amended law, Class I includes wind, solar PV, fuel cells, methane gas from landfills, ocean thermal power, wave or tidal power, and some hydropower and biomass. Hydropower facilities that began operation before July 1, 2003 or have a capacity of 5 MW or more are no longer eligible for Class I requirements, which are set at 1 percent in 2004, rising to 7 percent by 2010. Class II includes municipal solid waste facilities, along with certain hydropower and biomass facilities that do not qualify under Class I. Class II requirements are set at 3 percent from 2004 through 2010. Under the previous RPS, renewable requirements applied only to competitive electric suppliers; the new RPS extends the requirements to utilities, which serve the majority of Connecticut's customers.

North Carolina Investigates Reducing Carbon Emissions

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North Carolina's Division of Air Quality (DAQ) within the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has released the first of a series of three reports assessing the impact of North Carolina's Clean Smokestack's Act (CSA) on carbon dioxide emissions. The report is in fulfillment of requirements of the Clean Smokestacks Act, passed and signed by Governor Mike Easley in June of 2002. The Act is focused primarily on putting stringent controls for SO2 and NOx on the state's 14 major coal-fired power plants. However, Sections 12 and 13 of this Act require the DAQ to study the effects of these controls on CO2 and mercury and what the added costs and benefits would be to further reduce these pollutants from additional controls on coal-fired power plants and other stationary sources. The reports are required each September for 2003, 2004 and 2005, for each pollutant. The current report, primarily pulled from existing references and reports, makes substantial observations and conclusions, but no recommendations at this time. The report presents a policy background on the issue, details emissions from North Carolina sources, and lists some options for reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon sequestration.

Read the Report

Greenhouse & Statehouse: The Evolving State Government Role in Climate Change

Download Report

Greenhouse & Statehouse: The Evolving State Government Role in Climate Change

Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
November 2002

Barry G. Rabe, University of Michigan

Press Release

Download Entire Report (pdf)


The current level of state activity surrounding the issue of climate change is striking. Measures that have proven controversial at the federal level, such as renewable portfolio standards and mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, have been implemented at the state level, often with little dissent.

In this report, author Barry Rabe of the University of Michigan describes a diverse array of state initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Based on case studies of nine states - Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin - the report identifies the strengths as well as the limitations of these state-level initiatives, some of which could serve as prototypes for federal programs.

A number of themes emerged from the case studies. Foremost among these is that there are multiple drivers that influence states to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and states derive multiple benefits from doing so. New Jersey, for example, views climate change explicitly and comprehensively, and has integrated all sectors of the economy into programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Conversely, Texas passed an ambitious renewable portfolio standard primarily out of a desire to ensure long-term energy security for its residents, to secure its position as an "energy state," and to take advantage of increasing opportunities in renewable energy.

Indeed, state climate change efforts illustrate that climate change can be a bipartisan issue, an economic development opportunity, and an opportunity for policy entrepreneurship. But state action is not a substitute for a comprehensive national or international approach. A number of factors limit the ability of states to address climate change, including the reluctance of some states to deal with the issue, constitutional limits to their engagement in international relations, limited funding, and potential inefficiencies if states address climate change in different, incompatible ways. Rather, state leadership is getting the United States started down the path of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing learning opportunities for policy-makers. We would do well to be mindful of their successes as we work toward federal and international programs, and actively involve states in their design and implementation.

The Center and the author wish to thank Tom Arrandale, Bill Becker of STAPPA-ALAPCO, John Dernbach of Widener Law School, David Terry of NASEO, Michael Winka, Athena Sarafides, Philip Mundo, Caroline Garber, Eric Mosher, Joanne Morin, Dana Runestad, Alex Belinky, Matthew Weinbaum, and John Shea for their comments on a previous draft of this report.

Executive Summary

Most analysis of policy options to address global climate change has focused on national and international levels of governance. Even within the United States, most scholars and journalists have concentrated on federal government capacity to engage in international negotiations and formulate nation-wide policies. This emphasis has tended to overshadow a remarkably - and increasingly - active process of policy formulation evident in the American states. This report is intended to provide an overview of this aspect of American climate change policy, considering recent trends and highlighting a range of case studies that cut across traditional policy sectors.

States have been formulating climate change policy for more than a decade, although their efforts have expanded and intensified in the past several years. In some cases, states have considered climate change mitigation explicitly while in others it has been an incidental benefit. Reflective of the vast scope of activity that generates greenhouse gases, state policies have been enacted that reduce these emissions in such areas as promotion of renewable energy, air pollution control, agriculture and forestry, waste management, transportation, and energy development, among others. In almost all cases, there have been multiple drivers behind and multiple benefits from these state policies. In Texas, for example, the desire for energy independence, economic development, and air pollution control drove the state to promote renewable energy. Not all states have demonstrated interest in these initiatives and some legislatures have taken steps to prevent state agencies from pursuing any efforts that are designed to reduce greenhouse gases. Nonetheless, there has been a remarkable increase and diversification of state policies since the late 1990s, reflected in their current operation in every region of the country. Collectively, they constitute a diverse set of policy innovations rich with lessons for the next generation of American climate change policy.

Much of this report is devoted to an examination of leading examples of innovation in various sectors, from renewable energy efforts in Texas to a cross-cutting approach in New Jersey. Nine case studies are presented in particular depth, followed by supplemental cases where appropriate. These cases tend to vary markedly from one another in detail and yet are linked by common design characteristics. First, they tend to have been supported through broad, bipartisan coalitions that received significant support from diverse stakeholders. State climate change policies have been signed into law by Governors who are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Second, they regularly have viewed climate change mitigation as an economic development opportunity. State policies have been crafted to foster long-term economic well-being, which has contributed to their broad base of support. Third, they reflect abundant state-level opportunities for innovation and policy entrepreneurship, often involving state officials who build coalitions around a particular idea for new policy. Many of the most effective entrepreneurs are not particularly well known outside their respective states but have helped redefine climate change policy with their efforts.

When viewed as a collection of efforts, these initiatives outline possible elements of a long-term climate change strategy for the United States. Diffusion of innovation from one state to others is already occurring and clusters of contiguous states are beginning to consider cooperative efforts. Some of these policies may also serve as models that warrant emulation by the federal government in developing a more comprehensive strategy for the nation. This is entirely consistent with the long-standing tradition in American governance whereby states serve as laboratories for subsequent federal policy. In turn, the vigorous and creative nature of state innovation in this area suggests that any future federal policy initiatives on global climate change consider carefully the significant roles that state governments may be able to play in achieving long-term reduction of greenhouse gases.


Press Release: Climate Change Threatens Health of America's Lakes, Streams, Rivers and Wetlands

For Immediate Release:  
January 29, 2002

Contact: Katie Mandes

Climate Change Threatens Health of America's Lakes, Streams, Rivers and Wetlands

Washington, DC - Global climate change poses a serious threat to lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands throughout the United States, according to a new report from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The temperature increases and variations in weather patterns projected for the next 100 years will result in changes in the geographic distribution of freshwater fish, interfere with the reproduction of many aquatic species, reduce water quality, and impose added stresses on wetlands and other sensitive aquatic ecosystems.

"The United States' freshwater and wetland ecosystems face multiple threats to their health and stability, including changes in land use, environmental pollution, and the diversion of water for drinking, irrigation, and other uses," said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. "To these threats we must now add the very real and very serious effects of global climate change and its potential to transform the essential character of our lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands."

The Pew Center report, Aquatic Ecosystems and Climate Change: Potential Impacts on Inland Freshwater and Coastal Wetland Ecosystems in the United States, draws on a variety of sources to summarize researchers' current understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on U.S. aquatic ecosystems. Among the report's key conclusions:

  • Increases in water temperatures as a result of climate change will alter the geographic distribution of aquatic plant and animal species. The severity of these impacts may be limited if species can migrate to new areas as climate changes. However, the ability of species to migrate may be compromised by human activities that block migration corridors, potentially causing reductions in biodiversity.
  • Changes in precipitation will alter river and streamflows affecting ecosystem productivity and reducing water quality. Populations of aquatic organisms are sensitive to the effects of floods, droughts and other extreme weather events, which are likely to increase as a result of climate change.
  • Climate change is likely to further stress sensitive freshwater and coastal wetlands. Wetlands throughout the United States already are adversely affected by a variety of human impacts. Climate change will add to the existing stresses on these fragile ecosystems in a variety of ways-most notably by causing global sea levels to rise and inundate coastal wetlands. Rising global temperatures also will cause the wetland areas of Alaska and Canada to release additional carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  • Aquatic ecosystems have a limited ability to adapt to climate change. Governments, communities, businesses, and individual citizens can take a number of steps to reduce the likelihood of significant impacts to these systems while improving their ability to adapt to climate change. These include: maintaining riparian forests; reducing pollution from a variety of sources; restoring damaged ecosystems; minimizing groundwater withdrawal; and strategically placing new reservoirs to minimize their ecological impacts.

"Our rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands support economically important fisheries and provide Americans with clean drinking water, water for irrigation, recreational opportunities, and more," said Claussen. "This report shows that climate change puts all of these services at risk, but it also shows there are things we can do to reduce that risk."

Part of "Environmental Impacts" Series

Aquatic Ecosystems and Global Climate Change was prepared for the Pew Center by N. LeRoy Poff, Mark M Brinson, and John W. Day, Jr. It is the seventh in a series of Pew Center reports examining the potential impacts of climate change on the U.S. environment. Other Pew Center series focus on domestic and international policy issues, climate change solutions, and the economics of climate change. A complete copy of this report -- and previous Pew Center reports -- is available on the Pew Center's web site, 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 conducting studies, launching public education efforts and working with businesses to develop market-oriented solutions to reduce greenhouse gases. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. The Pew Center includes the Business Environmental Leadership Council, which is composed of 36 major, largely Fortune 500 corporations all working with the Pew Center to address issues related to climate change. The companies do not contribute financially to the Pew Center - it is solely supported by contributions from charitable foundations.

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