Despite the partisan rancor over climate change at the national level, state energy officials say they recognize the need to be proactive in not only developing, but also implementing, plans to address it.
“It’s clear to everyone … that we have to deal with the impacts,” said Andrew McAllister, commissioner of the California Energy Commission at the National Association of State Energy Officials policy conference Feb. 4-7 in Washington, D.C. “The solutions by and large are not going to happen at the national level.”
States have been uneven in their approaches, however. Some, such as Oregon and California, have a long list of public policies and plans to reduce carbon emissions and increase resiliency. Other states delayed plans or aren’t moving fast enough to keep up with changes.
In Florida, almost all action related to climate change stalled under former Gov. Rick Scott (R), said Kelly Smith Burk, director of the state’s Office of Energy, Dept. of Agriculture. But with the election of Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, in 2018, things are back on track.
On Feb. 4, the state submitted its first $633-million disaster mitigation plan to HUD’s new Community Development Block Grant program in response to 2016 and 2017 hurricanes. HUD has 60 days to review the proposal.
The governor also hired chief resilience and science officers. Burk said Florida residents are seeing the effects of climate change firsthand and are clamoring for action. “I think we have a long way to go, but I’m glad we are back at the starting line,” she said.
Michelle Gransee, director of Minnesota’s office of energy, said the state is slated to derive up to 45% of its power from renewable sources by 2030, but it is not on track to meet emissions targets set by state legislation in 2007.
As a result, leaders of both parties have supported additional efforts to help the state meet greenhouse gas emissions goals and to become carbon neutral. “It’s not about what side of the aisle you are on, it’s looking at economics, climate, the environment, and how can we all work together,” she said.