Climate

New Initiative Will Help States Find Ways To Cut Their Emissions

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States have a new ally in their search to figure out how they’ll reduce emissions under the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change targets.

A new initiative launched Wednesday by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Heising-Simons family will help states come up with plans for emissions reductions that meet the standards of the Clean Power Plan, which was proposed in June and is currently being finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency. States will have flexibility in figuring out how to meet the targets, and the new initiative, dubbed the Clean Energy Initiative, will provide technical help for about 12 or so states that want to develop ambitious plans.

The initiative has $48 million worth of grant funding to spend on stakeholders in the states. As the New York Times notes, the money won’t go directly to the states, but instead will be given to groups — like the Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council — that will help the states develop clean energy plans.

“Pollution from power plants takes a terrible toll on public health, and it’s the biggest contributor to our carbon footprint. But smart investments can reduce it while also strengthening local economies,” Michael Bloomberg, the former governor of New York who started Bloomberg Philanthropies, said in a statement. “These grants will help states meet new federal clean power requirements in ways that save money and lives.”

The initiative also plans on conducting an analysis on ways to make the power grid better, stronger and more efficient.

The proposed Clean Power Plan aims to decrease U.S. emissions by 25 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The final rule is expected to be released this summer. The proposed rule set a target emissions reduction goal for each state, with some states, such as Vermont and Maine, needing little or no reduction in their power sector emissions and others, such as Washington, having steep targets for reductions. Twelve states are suing the EPA in an attempt to block the carbon rule from taking effect, while 14 states and the District of Columbia are backing the agency.

States also differ greatly in their vulnerability to climate change. This year’s National Climate Assessment, which was put together by more than 300 researchers and was overseen by a federal advisory committee, broke up its findings on climate change’s impacts in the U.S. by region. The report found that states in the Northeast could face major flooding in the years to come, while states in the Northwest face wildfires and ocean acidification. States like Florida and Virginia are some of the most vulnerable to sea level rise.

These individualized threats mean that some states are also making efforts separate from the federal government to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Twenty states, plus the District of Columbia, have their own greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets in place. California, for instance, has implemented a range of goals and policies to meet its overall emissions reductions target, including reducing energy use in state buildings.

“State and local leaders are on the front lines of transforming the way we produce and use energy,” Bill Ritter, Jr., Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, said in a statement on the Bloomberg initiative. “This new initiative is helping to capitalize on this shift and adapt to the new environmental realities and the business opportunities they present.”