Equitable Adaptation Legal & Policy Toolkit

Statewide Plans and Programs

State governments and agencies may have access to resources that local governments, non-profits, local businesses, and individuals may not, including funding and financing availability, more staffing and employees available, and pre-existing relationships with federal agencies and/or nationwide organizations. State agencies can connect local experts and stakeholders with data on climate-related impacts, as statewide studies on climate-related impacts and disasters are often done by state agencies to comply with federal regulations.See footnote 1 Existing partnerships between state agencies and the federal government can be leveraged to provide additional funding for green infrastructure and clean energy projects.See footnote 2 State-level employee experts with knowledge of best practices can help to create resources for policymakers in localities that do not have this type of access or knowledge.

Additionally, state agencies can create sector-specific statewide plans that require or recommend the adoption of practices that promote economic resilience at a local or community level. 

“Statewide planning goals pass along safety and resilience requirements and/or suggestions to each municipality on a range of topics, including requiring inventories of hazard risk areas in comprehensive plans; adopting land use plans that reduce vulnerabilities to hazards; updating building codes with requirements related to earthquake, wind, wildfire, and flood hazards; requiring new critical facilities to undergo hazard-specific site analysis; and encouraging overlay zoning and transfer of development rights to restrict unsafe development.”See footnote 3 

These programs or plans can be as comprehensive as an energy plan that lays out a state’s intention to transition to clean energy (which often include smaller programs like workforce development, youth engagement, and the other tools discussed above); or, they can be as granular and specific as a workforce development and training program available to in state-residents.

The incorporation of statewide plans or strategies into a local community resilience plan or program can help to create economic resilience from a top-down perspective. By leveraging state resources and implementing statewide resilience plans, individuals, business, and communities will be (1) better able to recover quickly from a shock; (2) better able to withstand a shock; and (3) in some instances, better able to avoid a shock altogether.

Considerations of Statewide Plans and Programs for Economic Resilience 


  • Funding for specific programs — such as workforce development and training programs — can come from existing state clean energy funds, or states can pass new legislation to create clean energy funds.
  • Green Energy Funds are often made up of a variety of sources, including grants, proceeds from regional cap and trade programs (RGGI, Inc., California’s Cap and Trade program), donations from philanthropies and foundations, etc.
  • While transitioning to clean energy may have more upfront costs, customers and utilities will actually save money in the long run by converting to renewables.See footnote 4 


  • Energy transition plans created by economic development or environmental agencies can include strategies about how the state intends to transition to clean, renewable energy resources cross-sector.
  • Specific statewide programs, such as workforce training or youth engagement programs, can focus on clean energy training and career advancement.


  • Most often, fossil fuel plants are located in frontline communities.
  • Creating plans that equitably transition from fossil fuel to clean energy requires ensuring that these communities are among the first to benefit from the creation of jobs, green infrastructure investment, etc.
  • More specific programs, such as workforce development and training programs, can give preference to applicants from frontline communities.


  • State policymakers will almost certainly have to work across agencies to develop and implement binding, statewide legislation that addresses a state’s transition to clean energy.
  • In order to develop sector-specific programs, such as green infrastructure development, workforce training, or youth engagement programs, state agencies and state-level policymakers must work with local stakeholders.


  • State agencies can either promulgate legislation that requires that local cities and municipalities adopt specific practices or programs that enhance economic resilience, or publish recommendations and resources for local policymakers.

Lessons Learned

  • Policymakers that involve stakeholders from frontline communities as early as possible in the development of a statewide plan or program are more likely to achieve outcomes that are aligned with the community's needs. This will help to ensure transparency and can help to reassure stakeholders on the ground in local communities that their needs and concerns will be addressed.
  • State policymakers should also seek to educate utility ratepayers on the savings that residents that will result from a transition to cleaner energy. In New Mexico alone, the Energy Transition Act is expected to reduce monthly utility bills upwards of $7 by 2022.See footnote 5 
  • States governments and agencies have the power to promulgate the rules and regulations by which localities are required to operate. By explicitly requiring that cities and municipalities take the resilience of frontline communities into account, state policymakers can help to ensure that economic resilience within these communities is enhanced.
  • To encourage participation in statewide programs, such as workforce development programs, state agencies can offer to help finance employee salaries. In New York, NYSERDA pays 50% of the salary of employees who participate in the Clean Energy Workforce Development Program for a certain period of time.See footnote 6 
  • Nonprofits and individuals at a local level hoping to implement tools such as workforce development or training programs should research whether their state has a comprehensive or sector-specific energy transition plan. In creating a program to help facilitate the achievement of this program, designers may be able to leverage state funding.



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