November 23, 2020
Liberal states have spent the last four years preparing climate plans to counteract President Trump's rollback of environmental regulations. Now Joe Biden's climate agenda may rely on the states following through.
The incoming president has outlined an ambitious climate program, including plans to eliminate carbon dioxide from power plants by 2035 while pumping $2 trillion of green investments into the economy.
But Biden's ability to act faces political constraints. The Senate will be closely divided even if Democrats win a pair of Georgia runoffs in January that would give them a narrow majority. A more conservative Supreme Court could also limit the scope of Biden's regulatory agenda.
State action will be needed against that backdrop to drive near-term emission reductions, according to climate and clean energy analysts.
The last four years have seen an unprecedented flurry of state climate plans. [...] Yet there is considerable work to be done toward meeting state goals. Key details over how to reach climate targets in Colorado and New York have yet to be worked out. A collection of Northeastern states seeking to implement a cap-and-trade program for cars will go to governors and legislatures for approval next year. California regulators need to work out how to implement executive orders to eliminate sales of new gasoline-powered cars after 2035 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.
"I think people understand this is one of the few games in town, and it will be for some time," said Vicki Arroyo, who helps coordinate state policies through the Georgetown Climate Center.