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Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change
BALANCING FEDERAL WITH STATE AND LOCAL ACTION
Congress faces complex questions about how to harness the current interest and efforts of state and local authorities while striking an appropriate balance between national policy and state/local regulatory autonomy. This section analyzes how to approach these issues and provides key examples of policy areas that are likely to raise significant questions about overlaps between federal and state policies.
Many states and localities have enacted far-reaching climate policies over the past several years. Researchers estimate that over 50 percent of Americans live in a jurisdiction that has enacted a GHG emissions cap (Lutsey and Sperling, 2008). Figure 7.1 shows the states that have adopted emissions caps and targets, many of which are more aggressive than those being proposed in recent national legislation (i.e., H.R. 2454). In addition, 29 states that contain more than half of the U.S. population have enacted renewable portfolio standards (http://www.pewclimate.org/). Fifteen states, representing 30 percent of the country, have indicated their intent to follow California GHG emissions standards for automobiles.2 The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is already up and running among many northeastern states. California has adopted an ambitious plan to implement its economy-wide emissions cap, passed legislation requiring its localities to incorporate GHG emissions targets into land-use planning, and prohibited importation into the state of electricity that is more GHG-intensive than efficient natural gas facilities. Several states have adopted performance emissions standards for large GHG emitters.
The scope and magnitude of these state programs is potentially enormous, although significant questions remain about whether many of the state programs are more aspirational than real. Nevertheless, if states with emissions caps are successful in achieving their most ambitious targets (and assuming no emissions leakage), the cumulative emissions reductions would approach the 2020 national emissions-reduction targets proposed in H.R. 2454.
Significant growth has also occurred in the scope of climate change response actions occurring at the local/urban level. More than 1,000 mayors have joined the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement, vowing to reduce GHG emissions in their cities below 1990 levels (Figure 7.2). We cannot assess the progress these cities are making in meeting their proposed goals, but there is clearly a great interest and capacity for municipal-scale action to influence many activities and planning deci-
The announcement by the Obama Administration that the federal government will adopt fuel economy and GHG emissions standards as tough as California’s means the entire country will now be covered by a uniform national standard.