Climate Change

I’ve written a fair amount over the last year or so about the intersection of transportation and the environment in public policy, about Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth, about Climate Change and Transportation and about Green Transportation. Several new reports on related issues have come across my desk in recent weeks. Here’s a rundown.

 

States face a variety of challenges in the energy and environment arena in 2011, many of them long-standing issues that are now reaching a critical stage where action is needed to prevent worsening impacts. Many, however, also present an opportunity for states to stimulate job creation and create clean energy. Since many of the issues interlink, action taken in one area will often affect the others. Legislators will be looking at the electric transmission system, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, energy affordability and stimulating the new energy economy.

Three items to report on briefly today:

· Two weeks from today, CSG will convene its 2010 National Conference in Providence, RI.  During the meeting, the Energy & Environment Policy Task Force will host an open roundtable discussion focusing on the key issues states can be expected to face in 2011.  The roundtable presents an excellent opportunity for participants to share their insights...

With freight demand expected to double over the next 40 years, it's more important than ever to consider the impact of freight transportation on the environment. This policy brief examines the opportunities for state government to enact policies, get behind federal initiatives and support industry efforts to make freight transportation greener.

On Tuesday, Californians voted down Prop. 23, which sought to suspend California’s landmark global warming/clean energy legislation until unemployment dropped to 5.5% for 4 consecutive quarters.

On November 2nd, Californians will vote “yes” or “no” on Proposition 23.  Prop 23 seeks to suspend AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 through, among other things, increased use of renewable energy and pollution controls until state unemployment (currently at 12.4%) is sustained at 5.5% for 4 consecutive quarters.  That has only happened 3 times in the last 34 years.

No sooner was the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010, sponsored by Sens. Bingaman (D- NM) and Brownback (R- KS), introduced in the Senate last week than it was dismissed as being unlikely to proceed by one of its key sponsors.

China is now the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) which contribute to climate change.  But, China has refused to enter into international agreements capping its GHGs - basically because it doesn’t want to be bound by any agreement that potentially limits the expansion of its economy.  However, the nation is taking steps to limit those emissions by shutting down polluting plants and installing cleaner equipment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will regulate greenhouse gas emissions for the first time.  Power plants and other large-scale facilities must use the latest technologies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to meet the EPA’s air quality standards.  States are required to modify their permitting rules or the EPA will step in and issue permits under the new rule.  Meanwhile, Congress prefers legislative action rather than command-and-control regulation.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions solely for the first time on July 1, 2011 under authority of the Clean Air Act.

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