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 3, 2012, Washington State’s Department of Ecology released Preparing for a Changing Climate: Washington State’s Integrated Climate Change Response Strategy. Governor Chris Gregoire and the state legislature directed the Department of Ecology to produce the report and build off the state’s 2009 study – Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment (WACCIA). The integrated response strategy is intended to prepare state and local agencies, businesses, and individuals for the effects of climate change. By taking action now, the report estimates that Washington can limit damage and reduce the costs of climate change, which are estimated to be $10 billion per year by 2020 due to increased health impacts, storm damage, coastal destruction, rising energy costs, increased wildfires, drought, and other factors.
Through its integrated climate change response strategy, Washington strives to influence the short-term and long-term planning decisions of state and local agencies. The report identified seven high-priority strategy areas to:
- Protect people and communities
- Reduce risk of damage to buildings, transportation systems, and other infrastructure
- Reduce risks to oceans and coastlines
- Improve water management
- Reduce forest and agricultural vulnerability
- Safeguard fish, wildlife, habitat, and ecosystems
- Support the efforts of local communities and strengthen capacity to respond and engage public
For each strategy area, the report stresses greater awareness, flexibility, and long-term foresight. Emergency responders should prepare for increased flooding and wildfire, while public health agencies should increase surveillance of health problems related to rising temperatures. To reduce risk to infrastructure, site planners for new development should account for expanding floodplains. To address changes in water patterns, local governments should coordinate now to better manage water and reduce possible future competition. The report also stresses “no regrets” strategies, meaning policies that would alleviate existing problems or promote sustainability, such as restoring natural floodplains, better managing forests and farm land, or reducing hazardous runoff into waterways. Overall, the report cites a need to increase education and outreach with the public and local stakeholders. By building support for reducing climate risks, Washington hopes to address and mitigate the inescapable effects of climate change sooner and with greater efficiency.
Nuclear energy is often touted as a reliable, carbon-free element in our electricity portfolio, but three major challenges must be overcome before it can play a bigger role in our energy mix: cost, reactor safety, and waste disposal. Recent progress on each of these fronts shows that nuclear energy may indeed be a greater component of our clean energy future.
As a zero-carbon energy source that also has the highest capacity factor, new nuclear generation is especially well suited to provide baseload generation, which is an emerging gap in our electricity system. As electricity demand rises, aging coal plants are retired, and we pursue greenhouse gas emission reductions, there is a growing need for new low- and zero-carbon baseload electricity generation. Without technological breakthroughs in electricity storage technology, wind, and solar, energy cannot adequately meet baseload demand due to intermittency. Natural gas is lower emitting than coal, but it still emits greenhouse gases and has historically been vulnerable to price volatility.
On March 19, 2012, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed S.B. 12 into law, giving non-utility electricity consumers the ability to buy power directly from renewable energy generators. S.B. 12 is the product of close collaboration among state government officials, utilities, renewable energy producers, consumer groups, and industrial stakeholders, such as eBay, which initiated the effort to introduce legislation. S.B. 12 is intended to promote the development of the renewable energy market in Utah, a state that derives 94 percent of its electricity from coal. It also makes the state more attractive to companies that have embraced sustainable business practices and are looking for supportive locations to locate investment and jobs.
S.B. 12 provides both opportunity and flexibility for consumers looking to purchase renewable energy. Previously, only utilities were legally able to purchase electricity from renewable generators, but utilities are frequently sensitive to customer rate increases that may accompany renewable purchases. Large consumers were prevented from buying renewable electricity even if they were willing to pay more for it or viewed renewable electricity as a good long-term investment to protect against fossil fuel price increases. S.B. 12 offers a solution where consumers can negotiate directly with renewable generators and purchase electricity according to their willingness to pay, while still allowing Utah’s utilities to play a role in transmitting and distributing electricity. To reach a consensus, eBay, along with its partner stakeholders, created a working group to craft legislation, which helped the resulting bill pass unanimously in both houses of the state legislature. State officials hope the legislation will convince other businesses looking to embrace sustainability to invest in the state and help Utah to meet its goal to generate 20 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2025.
Learn about new EPA power plant rules, an action plan to get more electric vehicles on the road, recommendations from the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Intiative to boost domestic oil production while cutting CO2 emissions from power plants, and more in C2ES's March 2012 newsletter.
March 27, 2012
In a March 27 editorial, Bloomberg editors addressed how the U.S. can learn from China's push for capturing carbon and highlighted the work of the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI), a group of industry, state, environmental and labor leaders convened by C2ES and the Great Plains Institute. In the piece, Bloomberg endorses NEORI’s recommendation that Congress create a production tax credit for power companies that capture CO2 and send it to oil companies for enhanced oil recovery. Below is an excerpt from the editorial.
The federal government, too, could help push the technology forward, by taking up a smart strategy that has been suggested by a coalition of oil industry executives, environmentalists and state officials called the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative. It has to do with the other side of the carbon- capture equation -- what to do with the CO2 once you’ve taken it out of the power-plant exhaust.
China’s Huaneng plant sells its carbon dioxide to companies that make carbonated drinks and dry ice. Duke envisions turning it into solid carbonate to be used for building materials or road construction. Some innovators are feeding CO2 to microscopic algae to produce either fuel or proteins used in nutrition supplements or animal feed.
But it can also be used to coax more oil out of the earth. Since 1972, oil companies have injected carbon dioxide taken from natural sources to free up crude trapped in rock formations. The industry operates 3,900 miles of pipelines carrying 65 million tons of CO2 per year, and “enhanced oil recovery,” as the technique is known, accounts for 6 percent of U.S. oil production.
With new technology and enough CO2, the industry could use enhanced recovery to increase production by 67 billion to 137 billion barrels, according to a report from the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative. The report envisions using 20 billion to 45 billion metric tons of CO2 from carbon capture -- the total amount expected to be produced by power plants for the next 10 to 20 years.
We endorse the coalition’s recommendation that Congress create a production tax credit for power companies that capture CO2 and send it to oil companies for enhanced recovery. By increasing domestic oil production, such a credit is estimated to be able to pay for itself within a decade.
Click here to read the full editorial
Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
March 27, 2012
We welcome EPA's proposal today to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants and urge the Administration to quickly move forward with rules for existing plants, which account for 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Power companies face huge investment decisions as they meet new pollution standards and retire or upgrade outdated plants. They need to know the full picture - including future greenhouse gas requirements - in order to keep our electricity supply as reliable and affordable as possible.
While highly efficient natural gas-fired power plants would meet the standard proposed today, new coal-fired power plants not already in the pipeline could likely meet the standard only by capturing and permanently sequestering their greenhouse gas emissions. This underscores the urgency of stronger public and private investment in carbon capture and storage technologies. The United States, China and India - the world's three largest greenhouse gas emitters - all have substantial coal reserves. If we can't figure out how to get the energy value out of coal with a minimal carbon footprint, we will not solve the climate problem.
With prospects for substantial public investment in CCS unclear, C2ES is now working with policymakers and stakeholders on ways to expand enhanced oil recovery using captured carbon dioxide - an approach that can boost domestic oil production, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help lay the groundwork for full-scale carbon capture and storage.
Contact: Rebecca Matulka, 703-516-4146
Learn more about EPA's greenhouse gas standard for new power plants.
Bloomberg editors endorse NEORI's production tax credit recommendations
Few policy options can be a win-win for both political parties, as well as industry, environmental advocates, and labor. Similarly, increasing oil production and decreasing carbon emissions are thought of as conflicting goals. Yet, a solution may be on the horizon. On February 28, the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI) released its recommendations for advancing enhanced oil recovery with carbon dioxide (CO2-EOR). NEORI is a broad coalition of industry, state officials, labor, and environmental advocates.
While NEORI participants might not agree on many energy and environmental issues, each participant recognizes the vast potential of CO2-EOR and worked toward producing a set of policy recommendations for its expansion. CO2-EOR already produces 6 percent of U.S. oil, and it could potentially double or triple existing U.S. oil reserves. In comparison to other options, CO2-EOR offers an extraordinarily large potential expansion of domestic oil production, while also advancing an important environmental technology.
Market Mechanisms: Understanding the Options
The most recent study on climate change by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded that, “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for—and in many cases is already affecting—a broad range of human and natural systems. (See Climate Change 101: Science and Impacts.) The combustion of fossil fuels has contributed to the expansion of the global economy since the start of the Industrial Revolution. It has also substantially increased the concentration of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. The cumulative impact of these emissions poses significant economic risks. Policies to reduce emissions are required if we are to avoid the most costly damages of a rapidly changing climate. This brief describes how market-based policies can achieve climate goals more cheaply and efficiently than alternative policy structures—all while driving innovation to develop more cost effective, clean energy solutions that will serve as the foundation for strong economic growth throughout the 21st century.
While Americans bought nearly 18,000 PEVs last year, 2012 is the first full year when plug-in electric vehicles will be available nationwide. The long-term success of PEVs could bring some very real benefits to energy security, air quality, climate change, and economic growth.
Ridesharing: Context, Trends, and Opportunities
by Cynthia J. Burbank and Nick Nigro