The states and the federal government have energy on the brain. But you might be surprised to hear who is moving toward what.
States both red and blue are making efforts to expand clean energy programs despite a noted federal pivot away from renewables and towards fossil fuels and coal, according to a report by Stateline.
States are rolling out numerous initiatives all aimed at getting in on the fast-growing industry. In 2016, the number of total jobs in solar overtook the total number of jobs in the oil, gas and coal industries, according to Bloomberg, and is continuing to grow at a rapid pace.
This stands in stark contrast to the stated energy policy goals of President Donald Trump, who is seeking to expand domestic production of shale, oil and natural gas, as well as expanding both onshore and offshore oil drilling, and eliminating moratoriums on the leasing of federal land for coal mining purposes.
Multiple types of policy proposals
Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has encouraged the expansion of wind farms in the deep-red state, while 19 states have enacted so called “net-metering” policies, which allow individuals operating solar panels to see a direct return on their investment.
Among the most successful efforts to promote the expansion of renewable energy in the states, however, has been the enactment of renewable portfolio standards (RPS), which mandate that a certain percentage of energy sold in the state comes from renewable means, such as wind or solar.
Data from StateTrack indicates that 29 states have enacted RPS bills to date, while another eight states have set voluntary targets for renewable energy goals.
Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, recognizing the positive impact the industry has had in the state, recently vetoed a bill, HB 554, which sought to extend a freeze on the states renewable portfolio standard through 2018.
Kasich has spoken highly of the industry’s economic benefits in his state, crediting it with helping grow the economy, according to The Plain Dealer.
In February, Maryland legislators overrode Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of 2016’s SB 921, which requires the state obtain 25 percent of its energy needs via renewable sources.
Efforts in Vermont have been particularly successful and have served as a blueprint for many other states in the nation. Burlington in Vermont was recently recognized as the first municipality in the nation to meet 100 percent of its energy needs through renewable resources.
The state also has one of the most ambitious RPS goals, seeking to meet 55 percent of its energy needs through renewable energy by 2017, and 75 percent by 2032.
Only Hawaii, which aims to meet all of its energy needs through renewable means by 2045, has aimed its sights higher.
So far during the 2017 legislative session, 35 bills relating to RPS standards have been filed in 12 states.
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