Coalition of state lawmakers aims to cut carbon emissions

Source: Arianna Skibell, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, February 1, 2018

Lawmakers from nine state legislatures are coming together in an effort to cut carbon emissions.

The Carbon Costs Coalition will focus on reducing CO2 emissions though equitable policy decisions, market-based solutions and regional economics, according to a press announcement. Each state will devise a separate plan that addresses the specifics of its region.

The coalition includes members from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) and Meridian Institute are coordinating the effort.

“State legislators across the country know that they can’t wait for the federal government to act on climate change,” said Jeff Mauk, executive director of the NCEL. “Carbon pricing is a market-based strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that is being praised by economists and leaders from across the political spectrum.”

The legislators have been informally meeting for the last two years. They collectively decided to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach and develop state proposals that will meet local needs. The lawmakers said they are hoping to build momentum by advancing carbon-pricing bills and other policies in their states. The function of the coalition will be to create a space to share best practices and generate national interest.

Washington state Sen. Kevin Ranker (D) criticized the Trump administration for “systematically” removing climate policies and willfully ignoring the impacts of carbon emissions on global warming.

“What we’ve realized is with the current federal administration, it’s up to states to coordinate and take action,” he said on a conference call with reporters.

Massachusetts Rep. Jennifer Benson (D) noted that her state has been a leader on climate and clean energy, adding, “We see no reason to stop now.

“Carbon pricing, I believe, is essential to hitting this goal,” she said. “This will benefit our economy, our public health and, most importantly, our planet. … There is no time like the present to really double down our efforts.”

Christine Blackburn, policy director for the American Sustainable Business Council, said the coalition has been engaging the business community that recognizes the threat.

“Business leaders understand that climate change is a growing risk to their bottom lines,” she said. “That’s why many support a carbon price as the most efficient and effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The effort comes as states are taking more climate action in the absence of federal initiatives. Washington state’s governor is leading an effort to legislate on carbon pricing, more than 100 organizations are calling for action in New York, and Republicans off the Hill are also angling for a carbon tax (Greenwire, Jan 31).