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Memos & Research

The Biggest Opportunities for State Climate Progress in 2023

Jan 30, 2023

To: Interested Parties
From: Bill Holland, Vice President, State Policy and Advocacy, LCV
Date: January 30, 2023
Re: Leading Opportunities for State Climate Progress in 2023

Following the “big green wave in state elections last November, LCV (League of Conservation Voters) and our state affiliates nationwide are building on this historic momentum by launching ambitious advocacy campaigns to secure 100% clean energy, electrify transportation and buildings, and implement investments from the Inflation Reduction Act. Already this month, governors in states like Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, and New York have used their State-of-the-States, budget addresses, and inaugural speeches to announce ambitious climate and clean energy goals. 

Since launching in 2018, LCV and our state partners’ joint Clean Energy For All program has secured 100% clean energy commitments from more than 1,300 successful local, state and federal candidates. State leaders have translated those commitments into policy progress in 29 states, including statewide 100% clean energy commitments in 15 states. 

We know we are in a now-or-never moment. Recently passed national policies have made an enormous difference. Now state and local leaders face the historic opportunity to invest in local solutions that create clean energy jobs, cut planet-warming pollution, and invest in just solutions that will build a better future for us all. 

Here are the biggest opportunities for climate and clean energy progress we see across the country in 2023:

California: EnviroVoters California is seeking to pass legislation that would accelerate near-term climate reduction targets of 55% below 1990 levels by 2030, use California’s market power to ensure global corporations are reducing their emissions, and create a regional clean energy grid with other states. EnviroVoters will also defend and try to expand the $54 billion in climate investments they helped secure via their ClimateCourage Budget campaign.

Colorado: Conservation Colorado is helping drive legislation that would update statewide land use policies to reduce carbon pollution, ensure stable and affordable housing for all, and make communities more equitable and just. They are also working to address ozone pollution, especially from oil and gas sources, which for the last decade has been Colorado’s worst air quality problem. They are also working on a variety of regulatory campaigns, including securing Colorado’s adoption of the Advanced Clean Trucks and Advanced Clean Cars II rules, reducing emissions from major industrial sector polluters, and improving the state’s inadequate ozone implementation plan.

Illinois: Illinois Environmental Council secured a major victory in January’s lame-duck session when the state passed HB4412, legislation preventing the outright ban of wind and solar projects in local communities which included an innovative approach to protecting and preserving native habitats and species. In addition, IEC continues to urge Governor Pritzker to sign onto California’s Advanced Clean Trucks Rule and the Advanced Clean Cars II rule.

Massachusetts: The Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) continues to prioritize efforts to advance ambitious climate policy under new Gov. Maura Healey and implement the Climate Roadmap the state passed in 2021. As part of that work, ELM leads a regional Conservation Voter Movement effort to secure regional collaboration and commitments to power that ensure 1/3rd of the electricity on the New England regional grid will be supplied by offshore wind by 2030 through facilitating the New England for Offshore Wind coalition. The coalition’s primary objectives for 2023 are to get the first utility-scale offshore wind project over the finish line and to secure a regional solicitation for offshore wind transmission with strong language for environmental and economic justice.

Maine:In coordination with Maine for Offshore Wind partners, Maine Conservation Voters (MCV) is drafting an offshore wind procurement bill that likely includes 2.8GW of offshore wind procurements. In addition, MCV is focused on strategies to decarbonize Maine’s transportation sector, including Maine’s adoption of the Advanced Clean Trucks rule and leveraging federal investments to expand electric school bus adoption.

Maryland: Maryland LCV is developing campaign strategies to commit the state to 8GW of offshore wind by 2030 and making its community solar program permanent–putting it on a path towards 100% clean energy. Through extensive candidate education – including two MDLCV-organized gubernatorial forums – new Maryland Governor Wes Moore ran on a commitment to 100% clean energy by 2035. The offshore wind target, solar advancements, and energy efficiency initiatives would set a path forward for the state to reach that goal. MDLCV will also work to secure support for Advanced Clean Cars II, the California Advanced Clean Truck rule and the use of zero-emission vehicles by state agencies and school districts.

Michigan:  Michigan LCV’s (MLCV) top legislative priority is to pass legislation enacting key provisions of Gov. Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan, including a commitment to reach 100% clean energy and invest 40% of clean energy investments in communities most-impacted by carbon pollution. MLCV is also pushing a campaign to establish a single program tasked with funding whole-home retrofits in low- and middle-income neighborhoods. This proposal is part of a larger $1.65 billion proposal from the Resilient Homes MI Coalition.

Minnesota: Conservation Minnesota (CM) is working to pass legislation committing the state to 100% clean energy by 2040, with a bill passing the state House this week. In addition, significant state and federal resources for climate and clean energy are likely in play in 2023. Minnesota Republicans failed to make compromises to invest federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Investment and Infrastructure Jobs Act (IIJA) funds in 2022. The pro-conservation legislature taking charge in 2023 will be able to work with the Walz Administration to tap that funding, along with Inflation Reduction Act funds.

New Jersey: New Jersey LCV seeks to enact statewide 100% clean energy legislation. The legislation, expected to be introduced in early 2023, contains provisions for workforce development hubs, a fund for displaced workers, energy efficiency and building electrification programs, benchmarks for offshore wind and a clean electricity standard, and Equitable Access funding. New Jersey LCV is campaigning for 100% clean energy by 2035.

New Mexico: Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) launched their Climate Action Now NM campaign to pass legislation achieving statewide zero carbon emissions economy-wide. The legislation seeks to codify aggressive targets that address economy-wide emissions as soon as 2030, and through 2050. 

New York: New York LCV (NYLCV) is working to secure a suite of 4 building decarbonization actions including accelerating state building decarbonization and providing funding to achieve building decarbonization goals within the 2023-24 State Budget with union and local job requirements; passing the Energy Affordability and Gas Transition Act, and passing legislation that mandates new building decarbonization in accordance with NY Climate Action Council recommendations.

Oregon: Oregon LCV is focused on securing and enacting strong building decarbonization recommendations. In 2022, the Oregon Legislature created the Resilient Efficient Buildings Task Force (ReBuilding Task Force) which will develop policy recommendations for both new and existing buildings.

Pennsylvania: Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania (CVPA) will be pushing for Pennsylvania to actively participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and secure RGGI proceeds for local investment. Since joining RGGI in April 2022, Pennsylvania has lost out on nearly $1 billion in RGGI auction proceeds while polluters have sought to delay the state’s participation in the program. CVPA will push for those proceeds to be invested in clean energy and coal community economic transitions efforts that center racial and environmental justice.  

South Carolina: Conservation Voters of South Carolina (CVSC) seeks to advance a comprehensive bill to drive a clean energy transition in South Carolina and reduce power sector emissions by 70-80% or more. CVSC will also advance electric transportation policies that expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure and EV purchase incentives that increase access for low-wealth individuals.

Virginia: Virginia LCV seeks to defend against attacks to ambitious climate legislation passed in recent years including Virginia’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (and the millions of dollars of flooding resilience and low-income energy efficiency funding it provides), the state’s 100% clean energy standard, the Virginia Clean Economy Act, the Environmental Justice Act, and Virginia’s Clean Cars standards. VALCV successfully defended against polluter-supported attacks from the Youngkin Administration in 2022. 

Washington: Washington Conservation Action’s (WCA) focus remains ensuring that newly-passed climate laws reach their full potential, with an emphasis on investing in overburdened communities and tribal nation priorities. Washington’s Climate Commitment Act–its landmark Cap and Invest program–and Clean Fuel Standard took effect at the beginning of 2023 and the legislature will allocate at least $1B in revenue from the Climate Commitment Act for climate action this year.