States Lead the Way with Renewable Energy Policy

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The U.S. solar industry employed more than 260,000 workers in 2016.

Since January 2017, the United States has reversed several policies supporting renewable energy, controlling greenhouse gas emissions, and investing in cleaner technology.

These changes have led many states to fill the gaps with diverse legislative objectives that include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting natural resources, and creating new jobs.

Clean Energy Momentum

States have the authority to individually support environmentally friendly policies, and many are turning to the power of lawmaking to do just that. In recent months, state congresses have proposed hundreds of bills that relate to clean energy production, greenhouse gas reduction, and state-enforced regulations and incentives for environmental protection. Many are also looking at ways to tax carbon production, encourage solar energy installations, and mandate advances in renewable energy technology.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently created a Clean Energy Momentum State Ranking that examines the movement toward clean energy across the country. Looking at 12 metrics, including clean energy job creation, renewable energy advancement, and power plant pollution reduction, the report identifies the states that are making the most progress toward a sustainable future.

Leading States for Clean Power Production

According to the report, eight states — California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont — are leading the way with legislation to boost clean power production. Massachusetts lawmakers are seeking ways to rely solely on fossil-free energy by 2035, and California is considering similar legislation that would come into effect by 2045. Even Texas earned a spot in the top 10 because of its progress with wind energy. Texas produced more than 20,000 megawatts of energy in 2017, which is enough electricity to power 7 million households.

However, other bills are resisting the transition toward clean energy. Proposals to end net metering for solar panels are gaining traction in Indiana and Missouri, and legislators in Wyoming have considered penalizing utility-scale wind and solar arrays. The rankings also reveal plenty of room for improvement, as many states don’t have laws in place to meet their greenhouse gas reduction goals, and the percentage of energy-efficient vehicles sold nationally has been lower than expected.

Despite these challenges, states are increasingly taking the lead in helping to ensure a cleaner, brighter future.

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