As New Year and Administration Change Looms, What Role Will States and Local Governments Play in Securing our Energy Future?

This has been a busy and evolving year in the energy and environmental sector, including continued efforts on both a federal and state level to modernize the grid, the entry into force of a global agreement to reduce carbon emissions, major Supreme Court decisions regarding the federal/state jurisdictional divide, and ongoing litigation over national environmental rules that affect the power sector.  Soon after the start of the New Year, a new administration will begin—an administration that has announced energy and carbon policies markedly different from the status quo.  The Clean Power Plan is now unlikely to be implemented at the federal level and the fate of America’s involvement in the Paris Agreement is uncertain.  Because a great deal of energy policy is made at the state and local levels, industry watchers expect state and local government-level policies and developments to drive the course of our nation’s energy future.

We close out the year with two recent resources that address this issue:

  • Growth, Carbon, and Trump: State Progress and Drift on Economic Growth and Emissions ‘Decoupling’ is a Brookings Institute report that analyzes state-level progress in decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions. Based on a review of data between 2000 and 2014 on gross domestic product (GDP) growth and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions for the 50 states and Washington D.C., the report finds that more than 30 states have followed the national trend in delinking their economic growth and carbon emissions (in other words, they have decreased their carbon emissions while increasing economic growth).  The report attributes its findings to a variety of factors including state policies, changing generation resource mixes on both state and regional levels, reliance on nuclear energy, fuel shifts from coal to natural gas, and changes in state industrial structures.  The report concludes that “the trends depicted … suggest that while federal policy reversals could be traumatic, progress on decarbonizing the nation’s economy will likely continue … driven by technology advances, market dynamics, and state policy,” but that “[p]olicy choices at the state level are going to matter even more than in the past.”
  • The Advanced Energy Economy and the Center for the New Energy Economy’s Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker is a national database of state-level advanced energy legislation that has been introduced since 2013. The tracker covers all 50 states and Washington D.C. in the following ten policy categories:  Electricity Generation, Energy Efficiency, Financing, Regulatory, Natural Gas, Emissions, Transportation, Infrastructure, Economic Development, and Other Energy.  Users may search through current and past legislative actions, access bill sponsor information, and review policy trend analyses.

Best wishes to all our readers for a very Happy New Year.

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