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In the new year, many states have passed new laws and introduced programs to reduce their carbon footprints and help the U.S. meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Some of the most promising:
Massachusetts’ sweeping new climate legislation that overhauls climate programs, drives down greenhouse gas emissions with a requirement for net zero emissions by 2050, creates clean energy jobs, and protects frontline communities;
New Mexico broke ground on massive new wind farms to add 1000 megawatts of power as well as a new transmission line to distribute it.
Why this Matters: After President Trump systematically dismantled much of the United States’ federal climate protections, states have stepped up. Even after President-elect Biden’s administration begins to restore climate regulations at the federal level, these state programs will still prove vital.
Cap and Trade Scaling Up
The “regional” carbon trading program will generate about $3 billion from commitments by large gas and oil companies to purchase pollution offsets. Participating states are expected to use that money to invest in more just, less polluting transportation options. This program is a major one for the east coast, encompassing Massachusetts, Connecticut, D.C., and Rhode Island. Additionally, eight states — Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia— signed a Memorandum of Understanding that said they will enact a similar initiative.
Massachusetts Bans Sale of New Gas-Powered Vehicles by 2035. Last week the state announced a mandate that no new gas-powered cars can be sold after 2035 in an effort to curb emissions. Massachusetts has become only the second state to enact such a policy, after California. The state also introduced a wide-ranging climate bill, which set a 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions limit and increased the requirements for offshore wind energy procurement bringing the statewide total to 5,600 megawatts.
New Mexico has introduced a proposal to decrease venting and flaring in the state’s energy sector. In this proposal, gas and oil operators would have to reduce their waste by a fixed amount every year to achieve an ultimate gas capture rate of 98% by December 2026. The state is also moving forward with the largest single-phase construction of renewable power in U.S. history, with a series of new wind farms and a transmission line.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on this issue in BP Plc v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, which could determine whether or not oil companies are held accountable for climate change damages to cities and states.
Why This Matters: If SCOTUS rules in favor of BP, future climate litigation will likely be fought in federal courts, which experts say are “less responsive to expansive legal theories,” and thus less likely to rule in favor of these innovative new climate cases based on state law. Whoever wins this case will have a leg up in future climate litigation.
This week we sat down with Dr. Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University to talk about his new book The New Climate War in which he examined a century of history to break down science misinformation tactics deployed by industries like tobacco and oil and gas that were used to […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer After being forced to make major cuts to California’s environmental programs just eight months ago, last week, Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a $227 billion budget deal that would bolster a set of environmental initiatives. The proposal designates $4.1 billion to fight forest fires, reduce smog, and increase the […]
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