In the wake of a Supreme Court decision to temporarily freeze President Obama’s renewable energy plan, a bipartisan group of governors on Tuesday committed their states to expanding clean-energy programs and policy changes.
Titled the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future, the initiative consists of leaders from 17 states promising to “make major strides without Washington” on clean-energy reforms and to create a blueprint for states to transition from coal and other traditional energy sources.
Of the 17 states joining the accord, only Michigan is participating in the lawsuit filed by 27 states over Obama’s plan to drastically curb carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by 2030.
The accord was introduced Tuesday by governors from California, Washington state and Nevada, who said their aim is to spur collaboration between states on clean-energy improvements in solar and wind power without Congress’ leadership.
“I think we’re on board for something very important, very productive and without having to wait for Washington,” California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, said during a press call. “We out here among the states can accomplish something very important.”
The accord comes three days before the National Governors Association gathers in Washington for its winter meeting. The governors joining the accord said they will be looking to discuss clean-energy ideas with other states, including the 27 fighting Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
In addition to California, Washington state and Oregon, other states joining the accord include Nevada, Delaware, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island and Virginia.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, touted his state’s commitment to solar energy, saying the Silver State is second in solar electricity per capita and that it’s committed to receiving at least 25 percent of it its energy from renewable sources. Since 2009, Nevada has attracted $4.3 billion in renewable energy project investments, Sandoval said.
“The accord provides us with a platform to introduce our renewable-energy advancements to states across America,” Sandoval said.
Combined with a booming solar power industry, Sandoval mentioned the construction of Tesla’s battery plant in Reno and his state’s plan to build an electric highway between Reno and Las Vegas. The project would plop electric-vehicle charging stations on the desolate desert highway between the state’s two main cities.
A dedicated supporter of climate-change legislation, Brown told reporters the accord doesn’t mention climate change because there’s still too much disagreement between the governors on the issue. Instead, Brown said he hopes to open discussion about building a regional power grid to harness renewable energy and encourage states to invest in electric government vehicles.
The governors agreed that transitioning from fossil fuels is not only possible, but profitable if approached correctly.
“We know our states can support a more innovative and dynamic 21st century American economic future around these energy developments,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said.
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