Memo: States set climate agenda Biden can follow

Contact: Nick Abraham, nabraham@lcv.org, 206-833-7021

9 states to watch

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: Bill Holland, Senior Director, State Policy and Advocacy, LCV 

President Biden has wasted no time putting climate at the top of his agenda. From reentering Paris to stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline, President Biden actions ushered in a new era of ambitious federal climate leadership.  

Biden’s early success follows four years of bold state and local actions. Through LCV’s Clean Energy for All campaign, over 1300 state and local, state, and federal elected officials have committed to achieve 100% clean energy. As a result of states’ leadership, 1 in 3 Americans now live in a place committed to 100% clean electricity. 

Now with partners in the White House and Congress, state officials across the country continue increasing their ambition to tackle the climate crisis.  In places like Illinois, Oregon, and New Mexico working people, communities of color, tribal nations, and environmental advocates have joined together to ensure we build an equitable clean energy economy. These powerful coalitions give states the chance to pass policies that invest in frontline communities hardest hit by pollution and build family sustaining clean energy jobs at the same time. States have proven the power of these coalitions and the policies we can build together. Now we must ensure these principles are embedded in every national climate policy.

In the first weeks of 2021, governors and state legislatures have announced bold steps to protect our environment, tackle climate change, and create thousands of good jobs. Right now states are laying out a bold clean energy blueprint the nation can follow. 

Here are 9 states to watch –    

Illinois

Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) – The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition has worked to pass bold legislation calling for 100% renewables by 2050 with a policy design that emerged from over 120 community-led meetings from around the state. This inclusive process has secured key provisions like a carveout of Illinois’ renewable procurement goals for BIPOC businesses and expansive workforce training through the creation of Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs. 

  • CEJA was first introduced in February 2019, and calls for Illinois to move to 100% renewable energy by 2050, cut carbon pollution completely from the state’s power sector by 2030, and create steps to electrify the transportation sector.   
  • In his State of the State address Governor J.B. Pritzker listed “clean energy legislation that reduces carbon pollution, promotes renewable energy and accelerates electrification of our transportation sector” among his administration’s priorities for 2021.

Massachusetts

Vetoed climate bill comes right back to Governor’s desk – After Governor Charlie Baker vetoed Next-Generation Roadmap for Climate Action (S.2995), the landmark climate and clean energy package passed by the legislature earlier this year, lawmakers almost immediately refiled the bill and put it back on the Governor’s desk. Mass Power Forward, a coalition of over 200 business, faith, public health, social justice, and environmental advocates has held elected officials accountable and is fighting to ensure the bill is not weakened in negotiations

  • Current bill – 
    • Implements the strictest emission limits in the country of at least 50% reductions by 2030 and at least 75% by 2040
    • Ensure the state defines “environmental justice community” into state law for the first time.

New York

Making 100% clean energy a reality – New York has the most ambitious clean electricity law in the country requiring the state to transition to 70% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% clean energy by 2040 and requiring at least 35% of all clean energy investments go to low-income communities and communities of color. 

  • At his State of the State address, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced dozens of clean energy projects coming online to meet this ambitious goal. He also announced the opening of several new transit hubs across the state, as well as 100 new electric buses making progress on the state’s goal of 100% clean transit by 2040. 
  • New York LCV is also leading a coalition pushing for a Clean Fuels Standard to lower emissions from transportation fuels.

Nebraska

Public power path to carbon free energy – Last November, the Lincoln Electric System voted to set a goal of net zero carbon by 2040. That replicated a similar commitment from the Omaha Public Power District made in December 2019. There is now just one more utility vote needed for statewide 100% carbon free electricity. 

  • The only public power state – Nebraska is the only state in the country with completely publicly owned power, controlled largely by three public power boards. In the last three election cycles, Nebraska Conservation Voters has won key victories and built clean energy majorities on these public power boards, leading to these carbon free commitments. 
  • Clean energy works in red state – NCV and in-state allies are now pushing for a similar 100% carbon free commitment from NPPD. That would be the final vote to ensure nearly every Nebraskan lives in a place committed to 100% clean energy, making Nebraska the first state that voted for Trump to do so.

New Mexico

Equitable 100% clean electricity – Conservation Voters New Mexico, as part of the Power4NM coalition, is working to pass the Climate Solutions Act (HB 9) which would secure Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s 2019 climate executive order by setting a target of “net-zero” GHG emissions statewide by 2050, while also putting frontline rural and POC communities at the center of discussions over using the energy transition to build an equitable and diverse economy. 

  • In Governor Lujan Grisham’s State of the State address she highlighted the need for serious climate action, strong implementation of the Energy Transition Act (NM’s 100% clean electricity law), diversifying the state economy, and adopting tougher methane rules.
  • Clean Fuel Standard – Governor Lujan Grisham has also made a clean fuel standard one of her official 2021 priority bills.

Washington

Bringing down transportation emissions – Washington Conservation Voters and partners in the Climate Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy have persistently fought for a statewide clean fuels mandate, introduced for the 4th year in a row. 

  • Path to pass – Negotiations in Washington’s legislature have centered on funding for the state’s transportation package and dozens of lawmakers have vowed not to vote on the package until clean fuels is passed. Democrats hold wide majorities in both chambers but have been blocked by funding issues and major lobbying from oil companies. 
    • Washington would be the last state on the West Coast to pass a clean fuels policy. The 2021 bill has already made it out of key committees.
    • HEAL ACT – Washington’s legislature is again considering the Healthy Environment for All Act which would define and commit state agencies to adopting a mission of environmental justice and require agencies to use environmental health disparity data to inform decisions about enforcement, investments and policy.
  • Governor’s environment legacy – After winning a historic 3rd term and running for President on a nearly exclusive climate-focused platform, Governor Jay Inslee comes into 2021 with a new mandate for bold climate action. In 2018 he led the charge to pass a package of climate bills including a 100% clean electricity. Now Governor Inslee looks to tackle transportation and building emissions, where the state produces the majority of its pollution.

Oregon

Standing up for bold climate action – The Renew Oregon coalition made up of dozens of health, labor, environmental, business, and community of color advocates continue to fight for a bold climate package in 2021. 

  • Stopping the walkouts – Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of Oregon’s legislature but Republicans have stopped major climate legislation year after year by walking out of the capitol and blocking the quorum needed to hold a vote. This is a clear violation of the will of the voters, and it’s unclear if they will continue to walk out this year.
  • Comprehensive climate legislation – led by Verde and other environmental justice partners, Oregon League of Conservation Voters is fighting to pass this major package of bills
    • 100% Clean Energy for All (HB 2995) -Would transition Oregon to 100% clean electricity, invest in living-wage jobs and support workforce equity.
    • Healthy Homes (HB 2842) – Incentives and funding for energy efficiency and weatherization, especially for low-income households, which would lower energy bills.
    • Energy Affordability Act (HB 2475) – Protection from rate increases, especially for low-income households. 

Michigan

Clean Water Plan – In Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address, she rolled out details for her MI Clean Water Plan (first announced in October), a $500 million investment in water infrastructure to ensure Michiganders have safe, affordable water and create jobs rebuilding critical infrastructure. The announcement is the latest initiative from Gov. Whitmer to fix Michigan’s infrastructure and improve health.

  • Line 5 Shutdown – At the end of 2020, Governor Whitmer ordered the shutdown of the 67-year-old Line 5 Pipeline. This Canadian run pipeline poses the single greatest threat to the Great Lakes and endangers the drinking water for millions of people.

MI Healthy Climate Plan – Governor Whitmer also laid out more details for MI Healthy Climate Plan (announced in September), the boldest action on climate change in state history, which will move Michigan towards 100% carbon neutrality by 2050. The initiative includes the creation of a climate council made up of experts to implement the plan, which will move Michigan’s economy toward clean, renewable energy while tackling the climate crisis. 

California

No new gas cars by 2035 – In his state budget proposal, Governor Gavin Newsom proposed spending $1.5 billion over multiple years to accelerate the transition to zero emission cars and trucks. This follows his 2020 executive order that requires all new passenger vehicles sold in California to be zero-emission by 2035 and all new medium and heavy-duty trucks sold to be zero-emission by 2045. His budget proposal would commit $500 million to improve access to new and used zero emission vehicles and trucks including funding for low-income Californians to purchase zero-emission vehicles, and targets funds to cut air pollution from polluting diesel trucks. The proposal also includes securitizing $1 billion over multiple years for zero-emission vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure to support the transition to zero emission cars and trucks. 

  • California LCV is sponsoring SB 260 by Senator Scott Wiener, the Climate Corporate Accountability Act, which will require private and public US based corporations which do business in California and make over $1 billion annually to publicly disclose their full carbon emission footprint and publicly commit science based to emission reduction targets in order to avoid global temperature increases over 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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