This two-part post was originally published as a single post on Legal Planet. Reprinted with permission. This second part covers state climate action from New Jersey to Washington State, as well as multi-state efforts. Click to read Part I.
The Board of Public Utilities approved a framework for utilities to submit building electrification plans to implement the state’s energy efficiency programs. Utilities must offer financial incentives to accelerate heat pump adoption and help meet the goal of electrifying at least 400,000 homes and 20,000 commercial properties by 2030.
The governor announced the adoption of “Buy Clean Concrete” rules for the concrete used in state-funded building and transportation projects. The guidelines set emissions limits on carbon emissions from concrete production and transport used by the state. State projects must use concrete mixes that have an environmental impact below the limits set by the state.
The governor also announced a $20 million State Energy Financing Fund to provide direct capital support and credit enhancements for decarbonization projects in disadvantaged communities.
The governor signed a $90 million package that focuses on community resiliency, climate adaptation, and reducing emissions in the buildings sector. The two bills, HB 3630 and HB 3409, combine 20 individual policies and seek to leverage billions of dollars of federal funding. The package includes: (a) a goal of 500,000 electric heat pumps by 2030, with new programs to support heat pump deployment, energy efficiency, and weatherization; (b) a building performance standard for large commercial buildings; (c) a directive to cut annual building energy consumption by 60 percent by 2030 compared to earlier building codes; and (d) a directive to the Department of Energy to develop a comprehensive state energy strategy.
The governor of Rhode Island signed legislation to accelerate the state’s shift to renewable energy. Prior law required annual 1.5 percent increases in the amount of electricity required to be generated from renewable sources through 2035. The legislation signed by the governor accelerates those increases to achieve 100 percent renewable energy in 2033.
Although abortion was the central issue in the November elections in Virginia, climate change was also involved, with an ad campaign opposing Virginia’s use of California’s clean car standards. Democratic control of the legislature will impede the Republican governor’s efforts to roll back environmental standards and withdraw the state from a regional carbon trading system. One area where the Democrats now hold complete control is the State Corporation Commission, the regulatory body that oversees utilities. There are two vacancies on the Commission, and appointments are made by the legislature rather than the governor.
Washington State’s new cap-and-trade system has produced strikingly high prices for carbon in initial carbon allowance auctions. The state announced that it wants to link its new carbon market to one run jointly by California and Quebec, kick-starting regulatory reviews with potentially wide-ranging repercussions. When California started its emissions system, it had hoped to link with other Western states, but politics got in the way. The process may finally be restarting.
Also, the state’s Commerce Department issued guidance on a new law that requires local governments to consider climate change in their 20-year comprehensive plans beginning in 2025. The guidance focuses on two new sections that must be included in long-range plans: lowering greenhouse gas emissions and raising defenses against climate-related threats.
A bipartisan coalition of 25 governors organized as the U.S. Climate Alliance committed to increase heat pump installations across their states to 20 million by the end of the decade. The Alliance represents approximately 60 percent of the U.S. economy and 55 percent of the U.S. population.