Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way: The States Tackle Climate Change with Little Help from Washington
Posted: 26 Jul 2009
Date Written: July 23, 2009
During the Bush II years, there was a decided lack of leadership at the national level on the gathering threat of climate change. Many states, particularly coastal states like California and Florida, but also states in the Northeast and Midwest, stepped forward to fill the void. In the best constitutional tradition of "laboratories for new ideas" the states have pioneered a number of innovative strategies to mitigate and adapt to the consequences of climate change. These include the adoption of climate action plans, renewable portfolio standards for electricity, energy efficiency standards for cars and buildings; the rejection of "dirty" coal plants in favor of lower carbon alternatives and demand-side measures; tightening of land use controls to prevent sprawl and promote more compact development;and the creation of regional carbon markets like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation's first mandatory cap and trade program. Though a comprehensive national program is needed to address the interrelated issues of energy, climate, economy and national security, the steps being taken by the states are buying precious time and showing the way towards the future of a carbon constrained world.
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