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Climate Change Legislation Continues to Flood Statehouses

April 30, 2024 (4 min read)

Even as states are falling behind on their greenhouse gas emissions goals, that topic remains a top priority in legislatures across the country.

Numerous bills have been introduced this year that would establish new renewable energy targets and mitigate carbon emissions.

Here’s a look at the legislative climate in statehouses nationwide.

States Look to Revise Climate Goals and How to Reach Them

Perhaps most significantly, some states are revisiting their emissions targets.

New Jersey SB 237, for example, would make it the Garden State’s goal to have a 100% renewable energy portfolio by 2045.

Meanwhile, Vermont HB 289 would raise the state's renewable energy goal from 75% by 2023 to 100% by 2030.

Other states are considering stepping up emission disclosures.

Washington SB 6092 would require large businesses operating in the Evergreen State to begin reporting direct and indirect greenhouse emissions in October 2026 and emissions from assets they don't own but affect their value chain beginning in October 2027.

In New York, three different proposals, AB 4123, SB 897 and SB 7705, would all require corporate emissions disclosures.

Still other states are exploring new forms of renewable energy. In Colorado, New Jersey, and Virginia, legislators are considering bills aimed at increasing the use of nuclear power.

Colorado SB 39, for example, would define nuclear power as a clean energy resource.

In New Jersey, SB 220 calls for the state to study the potential of nuclear energy, while SB 364 would designate nuclear fusion as a “Class I renewable energy.”

Virginia HB 1074 would make nuclear power plants eligible to be included in the state’s renewable energy portfolio.

Also in Virginia, SB 557 and SB 508 would add hydrogen and nuclear power and geothermal heating and cooling systems to the state’s renewable portfolio, respectively.

Climate Change Bills Considered in Nearly Half of States 

Lawmakers in at least 22 states have considered legislation this year aimed at helping meet their respective states’ climate goals, including measures that would establish new renewable energy targets or mitigate carbon emissions. Such bills have been passed in four of those states.

Many States Show Interest in Carbon Capture

Bills pushing for carbon capture or sequestration initiatives have been among the most popular climate change legislation this year. At least 22 states have considered and four have enacted such proposals so far.

Maryland HB 155 would create a program to help businesses with carbon capture.

Two bills in Oklahoma, SB 1568 and SB 1569, would change oversight over wells used for geologic sequestration.

In Wyoming, HB 32 would amend the state’s permitting for sequestration projects.

Those proposals all remain pending. But three sequestration proposals in Florida, where climate change is unpopular politically, have already died.

Companion measures in the Sunshine State, HB 1187 and SB 1258 would have established a Carbon Sequestration Task Force. SB 1630 would have created a Carbon Sequestration Advisory Council.

Still, the federal government is increasingly granting states authority to approve carbon capture projects. In late 2023, the Biden administration gave Louisiana regulators the power to issue permits for wells that store carbon dioxide. The Bayou State joined North Dakota and Wyoming as the third in the country to have been given that authority.

“This is a huge victory for Louisiana,” Mike Moncla, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA), said in a statement after the federal Environmental Protection Agency approved the state’s application for primacy over Class VI injection wells.

The statement went on to say: “The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and the Louisiana Office of Conservation worked tirelessly over the last 2+ years with the EPA to ensure that Louisiana’s permitting process met or exceeded EPA’s standards” and “Louisiana now stands at the forefront of CCUS,” or Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage.

Last week California moved to the forefront of CCUS with the announcement of an ambitious plan to use nature-based solutions to transform over half of the state’s 100 million acres into landscapes that absorb more carbon than they release by 2045.

“We’re setting aggressive and ambitious new targets to use California’s lands to fight the climate crisis,” Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said in a statement. “This scale of action is unprecedented, and yet another example of California punching above its weight. From restoring and conserving lands to greening our urban spaces and treating more acres to prevent wildfires, we’re protecting nature and allowing it to work for our communities.”

Other state officials called the plan “among the most comprehensive in the world” and said they believed it could serve as a model for other states and regions.

—By SNCJ Correspondent BRIAN JOSEPH

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