State Perspectives on Climate Change

From the Archive—In case you missed's a look back at the June 2014 issue of EM, which included a discussion of state perspectives on climate change, highlighting their actions on a variety of issues.

by Miriam Lev-On

While U.S. federal climate change policy is still evolving, states have taken the lead in developing climate policies and initiatives by setting targets for reducing emissions, increasing the efficiency of energy systems, and encouraging investment in renewable energy. The State of California, in particular, has always provided a “laboratory” for many innovative legislative and regulatory approaches to managing air quality and climate change. Therefore, to coincide with A&WMA's 2014 Annual Conference & Exhibition, which will be held later this month in Long Beach, CA, this issue of EM focuses on state perspectives on climate change, highlighting their actions on a variety of issues.

States enacting climate change policies are concerned with the impact that climate change is projected to have on their economies and on their residents' well-being. Some states may be looking at policies that address climate change as economic opportunities, such as the production and sale of alternative fuels, the development of advanced technologies, and the sale of carbon emission reduction credits; it's not surprising that some states are better positioned than others to take advantage of such opportunities. Many other states, meanwhile, are concerned about the economic impacts of climate policy. In addition, state and local jurisdictions' drivers to address climate change include the potential co-benefits of improving local and regional air quality.

State environment and energy officials are considering options for regional collaborations to comply with forthcoming carbon emission restrictions
and are weighing different policy measures to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including expanding existing cap-and-trade programs, introducing low-carbon development mandates, and requiring offsets for new projects.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposals for New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) that limit GHG emissions at new and existing power plants are a hotly debated topic across the country. State collaborations are considered as a likely option under EPA's NSPS for existing power plants to ensure that the NSPS does not harm grid reliability or raise electricity prices.

These and other themes are elaborated throughout this issue of EM, which includes six articles on the topic.