2021 Brings New State Programs to Curb Carbon Emissions

Photo: ©hicagoenergy, Creative Commons/Flickr

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer

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:

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.

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