While the Republican leadership in Congress continues to block any real federal action on a new energy future -- refusing yet again to allow renewable energy tax credits to be extended -- the states continue to move. Wisconsin is the latest huge success story. Late last week, a 29-member task force appointed by Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle to make recommendations for slashing greenhouse-gas emissions overwhelmingly adopted a final package. Voting "yes" were the state's electrical utilities, IBEW, United Steelworkers, SC Johnson, Johnson Controls, legislators from both parties, the dairy industry, the Sierra Club, and other environmentalists.
General Motors, the paper industry, and small-engine manufacturers voted "no" -- but were totally isolated.
Highlights of the package are reducing electricity use by 2 percent a year and natural gas by 1 percent through high-performance efficiency investments and incentives; new building codes and lighting standards; 25 percent renewable electricity by 2025; California's clean car standards; and a 75 percent reduction in the state's CO2 emissions by 2050.
Florida, meanwhile, concerned about its heavy dependence on tourism, announced that it was going to demand a solution to the global-warming problem posed by airplanes. Governor Crist declared that the state will work with the Alliance for Sustainable Air Transportation to develop "green aviation" standards and practices. Utah, one of the most conservative states, came out and pledged to bring its total CO2 emissions down to 2005 levels by 2020 -- modest, not good enough -- but, hey, it's Utah.
And the California Air Resources Board came out with a stunningly good proposal to implement the state's greenhouse gas legislation, AB 32. "Today's draft has the potential to be the premier greenhouse gas reduction effort in the country, with a 33 percent clean-energy standard to drive innovation, energy efficiency measures to keep dollars at home, and clean-vehicle requirements to reduce toxic air pollution," was how Sierra Club California's Bill Magavern summed it up.
And Hawaii's governor signed into law a bill requiring developers to install water heaters that use the islands' plentiful sun rather than expensive and imported oil.