States

Oregon Takes a Big Step Forward

New climate legislation sets a high bar for other states.

On Wednesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a package of four clean energy bills. These bills move Oregon to the forefront of climate action.  These laws ban new fossil fuel plants and set aggressive targets for the state’s two major utilities, requiring emission cuts of 80% by 2030, 90% by 2035 and 100% by 2040.  …

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Public Opinion and the Limits of Climate Policy

There’s a simple reason why it’s so hard to take bold climate actions nationally.

Gallup has studied environmental attitudes in America for several decades.  Their historical compilation is very revealing about our present political situation. It sheds light on why it’s been so hard to develop momentum for real change at the national level, and also about why there’s so much more of a push for change within the …

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Guest Contributor Jetta Cook: Greater Than the Sum: Sub-national Renewable Energy Policy during the Trump Administration

Solar panel array in CA desert

Even Red-States Supported and Increased Renewable Energy during the Trump Administration

Below the federal level, it’s difficult to discern the impact that the Trump Administration had on energy policy. To take a closer look, I conducted a fifty-state survey to discern how state, local, and public utility actions affecting energy policy came together as a whole over the past four years. Across the nation, I found, …

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Washington State Ups Its Climate Game

After much travail, the state has finally put a price on carbon.

The Washington state legislature passed a historic climate change bill on April 24.  The bill requires a 95% cut in carbon emissions by 2050. After much travail, the state has finally managed to put a price on carbon by adopting a cap-and-trade system. With the decision of additional states to join the east coast RGGI …

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Appeals Court Nixes NYC Climate Lawsuit

With a clever if contrived argument, the Second Circuit tries to eliminate climate change litigation.

On Friday, the Second Circuit issued an important decision in a lawsuit against the oil industry.  New York City had sued the oil companies for harms relating to climate change. The appeals court ordered the case dismissed, on the ground that any harm relating to fossil fuel is exclusively regulated by the Clean Air Act.  …

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If Liberals Were the Ones Who Favored Fossil Fuels. . .

Here’s what the conservative response might look like.

Conservatives often come to the defense of fossil fuels and disdain renewable energy. Is that really consistent with their principles? Let’s imagine what conservatives might say if the table were turned,  Suppose liberals proposed government support for fossil fuels.  The conservative response might look something like this: Another Liberal Boondoggle Now they want to prop …

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Where “Old King Coal” Still Holds Court

Use of coal is dwindling across the country, but very unevenly.  We need to give it a good shove.

The NY Times ran a story last week about a coal area in Wyoming that is embracing renewable energy as its economic future.  Residents of Carbon County, WY,  aren’t necessarily happy about it but they recognize that the times are changing. As one county commissioner said,  “You can stand at the tracks when the train …

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Institutional Capacity Building for the Energy Transition

State agencies will need help to deal with a fast-changing energy system.

The COVID pandemic has provided a vivid picture of what happens when ill-prepared governments are suddenly hit with huge responsibilities.  Underfunded state and local public health agencies were overwhelmed, while governors and local officials found themselves struggling to obtain and distribute vital supplies, from respirators to vaccines. Efforts to accelerate the transition away from carbon, …

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The Big Chill

What went wrong in Texas and what can we learn from it?

The rolling blackouts in Texas were national news. Texas calls itself the energy capital of the United States, yet it couldn’t keep the lights on. Conservatives were quick to blame reliance on wind power, just as they did last summer when California faced power interruptions due to a heat wave.  What really happened? It’s true …

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Peer Production of Climate Action

Wikipedia and climate actions by cities and states have more in common than you might think.

Wikipedia is celebrating its twentieth birthday. When it was launched, this effort to create an encyclopedia seemed like a joke compared with Microsoft’s big-money effort, which was called Encarta.  Encarta is long gone but Wikipedia has thrived beyond anyone’s expectations.  Today, Wikipedia has fifty-five million entries, with 270,000 active editors a month.  While imperfect, the …

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