States

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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Renewable Energy in the Midwest

Under Trump, it’s been a mixed picture, with progress except in two states. What were Midwestern states doing during the four years Trump was busy promoting fossil fuels? States with Democratic governors are making progress.  Of the three states under unified Republican control, two are trying to prop up coal. Ohio has decreased support for …

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Three of Yesterday’s Stories of Climate Progress

There was Biden’s Executive Order, of course. And two other things. Or maybe three.

Yesterday, I read three encouraging stories about the U.S. and climate change.  One was about action by the federal government, one about action by the states, and one about action by the private sector.  The biggest news was from the federal government, in the form of Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at …

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Climate Politics and the Urban-Rural Split

How do we sell climate policies to huge swathes of Trump country?

The 2020 elections revealed America as bitterly divided as ever. The split between rural and urban voters is intensifying, with rural voters delivering massive support to Trump and down ticket Republicans.  Success in decarbonizing the economy will ultimately require the support of those voters.  Short of a miraculous turnaround in attitudes about climate change, how …

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The Ninth Circuit’s 10 Most Important Environmental Law Decisions of 2020

Climate Change, California v. Trump Cases Lead the List

This is the second of three year-end posts on the most important environmental law decisions in 2020 from the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and California Supreme Court.  (The key U.S. Supreme Court rulings were the focus of yesterday’s post, and tomorrow’s will feature California Supreme Court decisions.) Today, …

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2020: The Year in Review

Trump’s deregulatory reign of terror continued, but there were still some bright spots.

In terms of the environment, the big news was the election.  Biden swept the popular vote and won a solid victor in the Electoral College. At this point, the Republicans have retained control of the Senate, though runoff elections in Georgia could change that. On another front, US carbon emissions were down for the year, …

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Climate Action on the West Coast

Three liberal states with very different climate records.

Although California, Oregon, and Washington are often  considered liberal bastions, they differ widely in how much they’ve been able to do in climate policy.  The scale of their responses has been pretty much proportional to how much of their populations are urban, with conservative rural areas in each state that resist climate action. California.  California …

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Renewable Energy in the Southwest

Despite Trump, the needle has kept moving in the right direction.

The sun is intense in the desert Southwest.  During the Trump years, the federal government has hard worked to promote fossil fuels. Trump also has been no friend of renewable energy. This has not stopped progress toward a cleaner energy mix in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Arizona Arizona’s current power mix is about …

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