While it is clear that energy and the environment did not play a decisive role in the election, 2017 will nevertheless bring a new set of challenges for energy policy, and elevate the conversation to a higher level. At the federal level, the fight to stop climate change looks bleak. State Environmental Commitments and clear, deliberate leadership at the state and local levels will become essential to advance clean energy goals.
Fortunately, New York’s history of advancing favorable environmental policies has resulted in valuable lessons that can be adapted and implemented in other states to increase economic development, create jobs, decrease pollution, and improve quality of life. In the last three years, New York has made efforts to advance a wide array of policies to improve the environment under the banner of Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), an initiative to change how electric utilities and consumers interact to accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies and services in the state. As a result, environmental outcomes are now a key consideration when utilities make investments; private companies will have access to information needed to develop innovative products and services; and customers will have new tools to better manage their energy, lower their bills, and have a positive impact on the environment.
Maintaining New York’s and other regional efforts will be essential to address the effects of climate change in years to come. Nationally, forward-thinking clean energy policies may be on the verge of stalling, but states will continue to fight for a clean energy future. In this, New York is not alone. California passed a series of bills imposing caps on greenhouse gas emissions to reduce pollution, and Illinois passed the Future Energy Jobs Bill that will add well-paying local jobs, while expanding the state’s already successful energy efficiency programs. Ohio vetoed a freeze on clean energy standards because it would hurt the local economy, and Maryland is exploring clean energy options. These states have reaffirmed their commitments to an economy and environment that benefit from clean energy, and more state environmental commitments are needed throughout the country to continue this trend.