States of repair: governors, state legislatures find climate solutions

Environmental actions partially offset rollbacks and inaction at federal level
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON -- As the first half of 2019 comes to a close, it’s clear that the 2018 elections have had positive consequences at the state level when it comes to addressing climate change.

Six months ago, as new governors and state legislators took office, Environment America Research & Policy Center released a report, Climate Solutions from Day One: 12 Ways Governors Can Lead on Climate Now, detailing a set of 12 actions governors could take immediately to significantly reduce planet-warming carbon pollution and ensure a more stable climate for their states and the nation.

In the intervening months, Republican and Democratic governors from coast to coast have listened to their constituents’ bipartisan concerns about climate change and have taken action. At last count, 14 states took at least one of the actions laid out in the report. Colorado (8), Maine (6) and New Mexico (5) took action in the most categories.

Additionally, Maine, New Mexico and Washington passed bills committing to 100 percent clean electricity, following the examples of Hawaii (in 2015) and California (in 2018). New York, with “100 percent” legislation just awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s expected signature, is poised to join them. 

Here is a list of how a wide variety of states have accomplished some of the goals we established in January.

COLORADO (goals achieved in 8 different categories)

Direct state agencies to adopt and encourage electric vehicles. 

January 17: Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order, “Supporting a Transition to Zero Emission Vehicles,” which establishes a transportation electrification working group and reallocates remaining Volkswagen settlement funds toward supporting transportation electrification. The money cannot be used for diesel and propane buses.

Limit new fossil-fuel infrastructure.

April 16: Gov. Polis signed a bill into law that strengthens oversight of oil and gas drilling to prevent groundwater contamination.

Incentivize electric vehicles and adopt Cleaner Cars standards.

May 10: The AQCC unanimously voted to begin rule-making to adopt the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standards.

Set a strong statewide emission reduction goal. 

May 30: Gov. Polis signed a bill that sets statewide emissions reduction targets and designates the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to make a plan to hit them.

Set strong clean energy and energy reduction goals.

May 30: Gov. Polis signed an appliance standards bill that would prevent 178,000 thousand metric tons of carbon emissions annually by 2025 -- equivalent to taking approximately 39,000 cars off the road each year.

Set a waste reduction goal. 

May 30: Gov. Polis signed a bill that imposes a fee on waste haulers which goes to a grant program that will be used to increase waste diversion.

Set strong energy building codes.

May 30: Gov. Polis signed a bill that requires cities and counties, when updating building codes, to choose one of the three most recent versions of the international energy conservation code, at a minimum.

Shift transportation spending and policies to support low-carbon modes. 

May 31: Gov. Polis signed a bill directing the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to study how to reduce climate pollution in the transportation sector.

Incentivize electric vehicles and adopt Cleaner Cars standards.

May 31: Gov. Polis signed a bill that requires public utilities to develop electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure plans, which will increase investments in EV charging across the state -- and a bill to extend EV tax credits for a few more years.

 

FLORIDA (1)

Limit new fossil-fuel infrastructure. 

January 10: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order focused on a wide variety of initiatives, including calling for the Department of Environmental Protection to “adamantly oppose” offshore drilling and fracking in Florida.

 

MAINE (6)

Direct state agencies to deploy clean energy.

February 14: The governor signed an executive order ending the moratorium on wind turbine permits.

Collaborate in regional climate initiatives.

February 28: Gov. Mills makes Maine the 22nd state to join the US Climate Alliance. 

Set a waste reduction goal.

May 1: Gov. Mills signed a bill making Maine the first state to pass a ban on polystyrene (plastic foam) containers.

Incentivize electric vehicles and adopt Cleaner Cars standards.

June 10: Gov. Mills signed An Act To Increase Electric Vehicles in Maine, which establishes an electric vehicle rebate fund.

Limit new fossil-fuel infrastructure. 

June 13: Gov. Mills signed a bill banning oil and gas drilling in state waters.

Set a waste reduction goal. (Bill #2)

June 17: Gov. Mills signed a single-use plastic bag ban.

Direct state agencies to deploy clean energy. (Bill #2)

June 19: Gov. Mills signed a bill directing the Public Utilities Commission to approve a contract to test floating wind turbines.

Set strong clean energy and energy reduction goals.

June 26: Gov. Janet Mills signed three bills (LD 1679, LD 1711 and LD 1494) that, together, put Maine on the path to lowering its greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels and to shifting the state’s electricity to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. 

 

MARYLAND (3)

Direct state agencies to adopt and encourage electric vehicles.

May 13: Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill into law establishing a grant program to help school districts purchase electric school buses and build charging infrastructure. 

Set a waste reduction goal.

May 24: Maryland’s ban on plastic foam containers becomes law. The state becomes the second in the country to ban polystyrene (plastic foam).

Set strong clean energy and energy reduction goals  

May 24: Maryland’s clean energy bill becomes law. It requires the state to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and to evaluate what’s necessary to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2040.

 

MICHIGAN (1)

Collaborate in regional climate initiatives.

February 4: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined the U.S. Climate Alliance.

 

MONTANA (1)

Collaborate in regional climate initiatives.

July 1: Gov. Steve Bullock joined the U.S. Climate Alliance.

 

NEVADA (2)

Set strong clean energy and energy reduction goals.

April 23: Gov. Steve Sisolak signed SB 358 after the legislature passed it unanimously. It  requires Nevada energy providers to obtain at least 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030, with a goal of 100 percent carbon-free by 2050.

May 28: Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed AB54 into law, pushing back against the Trump administration’s plans to roll back energy-saving light bulb standards by adopting federal standards into state law

 

NEW JERSEY (2)

Direct state agencies to adopt and encourage electric vehicles. 

June 3: Gov. Phil Murphy signed the New Jersey Partnership to Plug-In, furthering electric vehicle infrastructure expansion in the state, and announcing the use of Volkswagen settlement money to fund electric heavy-duty vehicles such as garbage trucks.

Direct state agencies to deploy clean energy.

June 21: Spurred by an executive order from Gov. Murphy, New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities announced that it was awarding the largest offshore wind contract in American history -- for 1,100 MW, to Orsted, to power close to 500,000 homes.

NEW MEXICO (5)

Direct state agencies to reduce waste from state operations. 

January 29: New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order establishing an interagency Climate Change Task Force and mandating production of a New Mexico Climate Strategy document by September 15, 2019.

Collaborate in regional climate initiatives.

January 29: Gov. Lujan Grisham joined the U.S. Climate Alliance.

Direct state agencies to adopt and encourage electric vehicles. 

March 18: Gov. Lujan Grisham signed legislation to encourage the building of electric vehicle charging stations

Set strong clean energy and energy reduction goals.

March 22: Gov. Lujan Grisham signed the Energy Transition Act, which passed with bipartisan support. New Mexico utilities must get 50 percent  of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2030, 80 percent by 2040 and 100 percent by 2045.

Set a strong statewide emission reduction goal. 

April 3: Gov. Lujan Grisham signed the Efficient Use of Energy Act, which amends the 2005 law of the same name and provides incentives to utilities to pursue energy efficiency rather than simply selling energy

 

NEW YORK (4)

Direct state agencies to deploy clean energy.

April 12: Gov. Cuomo signed bill authorizing the New York Power Authority to:

  • Finance and build transmission facilities to aid the development and distribution of offshore renewable energy. 

  • Finance the development of renewable energy projects 

  • Facilitate the purchase of renewable energy by customers, public entities and Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs.

Direct state agencies to adopt and encourage electric vehicles. 

April 12: Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature authorized the New York Power Authority to build, finance and maintain electric vehicle charging stations.

Set a waste reduction goal.

April 22: Gov. Cuomo signed into law the nation’s second plastic bag ban. It is accompanied by a tax on paper bags. The proceeds will go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.

Limit new fossil-fuel infrastructure. 

April 29: Gov. Cuomo signed a law which prohibits the State of New York from leasing, and extending or renewing leases, for any offshore oil or gas development on state land.

 

RHODE ISLAND (1)

Set a waste reduction goal. 

March 28: Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order extending the mission of a task force on plastic pollution that was created last year. 

VERMONT (3)

Shift transportation spending and policies to support low-carbon modes.

June 14th: Vermont passed House Bill 529, which establishes changes to transportation laws and funding, including: 

  • A requirement that 50 percent of all purchased or leased vehicles for the State Vehicle Fleet be fully-electric or hybrid. This quota will be raised to 75 percent on July 1st, 2021. 

  • Offering financial incentives to income-eligible households buying a plug-in electric vehicle. 

  • Establishing the Transportation Alternatives Grant Program, which in 2020 will begin to emphasize projects that “[involve] as a primary feature a bicycle or pedestrian facility.”

  • Increasing public transit funding by 17 percent, and earmarking funding for the purchase of electric buses. 

Set a waste reduction goal. 

June 17: Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill that includes a single-use plastic bag ban, a ban on expanded polystyrene containers and a “straws on request” clause.

Set strong energy building codes

June 17: Gov. Scott signed a bill which implements a series of initiatives designed to increase energy efficiency, including: 

  • Establishing funds for weatherization and efficiency upgrades on residential homes. 

  • Creating a commission to investigate the creation of new energy efficiency programs and/or the expansion of current programs. 

  • Founding a Carbon Emissions Reduction Committee out of members of the General Assembly.

 

WASHINGTON (2)

Set strong clean energy and energy reduction goals.

May 7: Gov. Jay Inslee signed the 100% Clean Electricity Bill requiring utilities to be 80 percent carbon-free by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free by 2045.

May 7th: Gov. Inslee signed a bill making Washington the second state to adopt new energy saving standards for 17 common appliances and products

May 7th: Gov. Inslee signed a bill establishing building energy performance standards for new buildings.

Set a strong statewide emission reduction goal.

May 7: The 100% Clean Electricity Bill also phases out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (a powerful type of greenhouse gas) in Washington State.

 

WISCONSIN (1)

Collaborate in regional climate initiatives.

February 12: Gov. Tony Evers joined the U.S. Climate Alliance.