The Dernogalizer

December 8, 2009

The Power of State Actions

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 5:08 pm
Tags: ,

As someone who worked really hard to pass global warming legislation in Maryland to make us a leader, it’s great to see the cumulative effect of all these states taking the lead, as seen in this Yale e360 article.  David Sassoon and Michael Northrop do a great job of connecting the actions to the states to the broader national and international picture.  Here’s a few excerpts..

“Taken together the actions initiated by the states, coupled with the clean energy policies and programs implemented thus far by the Obama administration, rival the scope and ambition of the actions taken to address global warming anywhere in the world,” says a report released last week by Environment America, a coalition of state environmental advocacy organizations.

Since more than half of the U.S.’s 50 states are actively on the path to reducing emissions on their own, state climate action is no small thing on a global scale. California, America’s bellwether environmental state, has the world’s eighth-largest economy, just behind that of Italy. California’s energy use is among the most efficient in the nation; its leadership on improving automobile fuel efficiency forced Detroit to significantly boost gasoline mileage of U.S. vehicles; and its comprehensive climate law – AB32 – is as aggressive as any in the world.”

“Environment America’s report, America on the Move, analyzed state climate action and found that, taken as a whole, it will reduce CO2 emissions by 536 million metric tons per year by 2020. That’s equivalent to about 7 percent of total U.S. emissions in 2007 — almost half the distance to the 2020 reduction of 17 percent below 2005 levels Congress is contemplating.

In other words, the states have already moved the ball nearly halfway downfield while the federal government has largely remained a spectator until this year. Perhaps this will help spur Congress to support the more ambitious goals that the rest of world is demanding from the planet’s leading historical polluter.”

“The rest of the reductions will come from renewable energy standards already adopted by 29 states, energy efficiency mandates adopted in 22 states, state and federal standards for appliances and cleaner cars, updated building energy efficiency codes, as well as other measures that are part of two dozen comprehensive state climate plans adopted since 2003.”

“Meanwhile, state action continues to accelerate. Maryland is working to develop seven gigawatts of offshore wind power. Sparsely-populated Maine is working to develop five gigawatts, with plans to use the surplus wind-generated power to run electric vehicles. A newly energized U.S. Department of Energy is backing a plan to develop 50 gigawatts of offshore wind power in 10 states.”

“Yet the U.S. states, disunited, can only do so much. A national policy that places a price on carbon and also capitalizes on — rather than ignores or preempts — years of state work is still needed. President Obama has an opportunity in Copenhagen to point out to the rest of the world something that has been overlooked: that the states, at least, have not been standing still for the last decade, but have been quietly showing leadership. He can also take the opportunity to goad Congress to do more by building on the strong track record of state climate action. ”

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