McMahan, Cox, Smith: Western States Proceed with Climate Legislation Regardless of Trump’s “ACE” Rule


Energy and environmental attorneys Tim McMahan, Rachel Cox and Allison Smith authored an article for Renewable Energy World titled “Western States Proceed with Climate Legislation Regardless of Trump’s “ACE” Rule,” published September 4, 2018. The article discusses actions being taken in several Western states to address their energy needs while also addressing climate change — driven by California’s existing efforts in those areas and in response to the Trump administration’s decision to abandon commitments the U.S. made in the Paris Climate Agreement and to replace the Clean Power Plan.

Legislators in Oregon and Washington proposed a different form of a carbon reduction program in each state in 2018, neither of which passed during the states’ legislative sessions. Nevertheless, the states are laying the groundwork for future enactment of greenhouse gas (GHG) legislation, in Oregon through “cap and invest” legislation on track to be proposed in the next session , and in Washington through a citizen ballot initiative aimed at enacting a carbon tax program.

California passed laws more than a decade ago to reduce GHG levels and institute a cap and trade program, the former of which was strengthened and the latter extended in 2016 and 2017. The state has expanded and reauthorized other parallel GHG reduction programs, such as the renewable portfolio standard, which in 2016 was increased to require 50 percent of electricity used in the state to be from renewable energy by 2030. On Monday, Sept. 10, Governor Brown signed a bill into law to transition California’s energy grid to 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2045.

The authors conclude, “As each of the western seaboard states pursues individual legislative and regulatory programs to advance state-specific goals, California, Oregon, and Washington have renewed their dialogue and collaboration on climate change, including through the Pacific Coast Collaborative.”

“We expect California, Oregon, and Washington to continue to pursue climate change policies to decrease emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change, with some fits and starts along the way as new schemes are implemented, opposition ebbs and flows, and impacts – good and bad – come to the fore.”

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