Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act

Summary: The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act requires the state to reduce statewide emission by 40 percent from 2006 levels by 2030 and empowers state agencies to create a plan that accomplishes the goal.

[Bill drafting note: This model is based on Maryland SB 323, enacted in 2016.]

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE

This Act shall be called the “Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act.”

SECTION 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(A) FINDINGS—the legislature finds that:

1) The earth's atmosphere is now warming at the fastest rate in recorded history, a trend that is projected to cause extensive damage to forests, marine ecosystems, and agriculture. Human communities are also threatened by climate change as seas rise, storms become more intense, and episodes of drought and flooding increase. The scientific evidence is now compelling that recent climate change is caused at least in part by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels, which has driven atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to their highest levels in four hundred twenty thousand years.

2) Climate change poses a serious threat to the economic well-being, public health, natural resources, and the environment of the state. The potential adverse effects of global warming include a rise in sea levels, damage to marine ecosystems and the natural environment, extended drought and loss of soil moisture, an increase in the spread of infectious diseases, and an increase in the severity of storms and extreme weather events.

3) On February 2, 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body established by the United Nations, released its fourth assessment of the predicted impacts of global climate change. The panel predicted temperature rises of up to eleven and a half degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 and a sea level rise of up to twenty-three inches, with an additional 7.8 inches possible if current melting of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica continues.

4) It is essential for the State must be a leader in environmental stewardship. By reducing emissions in our state, this framework of action will serve as an example to other states, the federal government, and other countries to protect our fragile global environment.

(B) PURPOSE—This law is enacted to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents by helping curtail global climate change.

SECTION 3. GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION

After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

(A) DEFINITIONS—In this section:

“Department” means the Department of [Natural Resources].

(B) GOAL TO REDUCED GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

1) The Department shall, on or before December 31, 2019, adopt final plans that reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2006 levels by 2030.

2) The plans shall be developed in recognition of the finding by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that developed countries will need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 80% and 95% from 1990 levels by 2050.

3) The final plans shall include:

a) Adopted regulations that implement all plan measures for which state agencies have existing statutory authority; and

b) A summary of any new legislative authority needed to fully implement the plans and a timeline for seeking legislative authority.

(C) PLAN TO ACCOMPLISH REDUCTION IN GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS—In developing and implementing the plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Department shall:

1) Analyze the feasibility of measures to comply with the greenhouse gas emissions reductions required by this subtitle;

2) Consider the impact on rural communities of any transportation related measures proposed in the plans;

3) Provide that a greenhouse gas emissions source that voluntarily reduces its greenhouse gas emissions before the implementation of this subtitle shall receive appropriate credit for its early voluntary actions;

4) Provide for the use of offset credits generated by alternative compliance mechanisms executed within the State, including carbon sequestration projects, to achieve compliance with greenhouse gas emissions reductions required by this subtitle;

5) Ensure that the plans do not decrease the likelihood of reliable and affordable electrical service and statewide fuel supplies;

6) Consider whether the measures would result in an increase in electricity costs to consumers in the State;

7) Consider the impact of the plans on the ability of the State to attract, expand, and retain commercial aviation services, and to conserve, protect, and retain agriculture;

8) Ensure that the greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures implemented in accordance with the plans:

a) Are implemented in an efficient and cost–effective manner;

b) Do not disproportionately impact rural or low–income, low– to moderate–income, or minority communities or any other particular class of electricity ratepayers;

c) Minimize leakage;

d) Are quantifiable, verifiable, and enforceable;

e) Directly cause no loss of existing jobs in the manufacturing sector;

f) Produce a net economic benefit to the State’s economy and a net increase in jobs in the State; and

g) Encourage new employment opportunities in the State related to energy conservation, alternative energy supply, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction technologies.

9) Consult with state and local agencies as appropriate; and

10) Convene a series of public workshops to provide interested parties with an opportunity to comment on proposed plans.

(D) REPORTS—The Department shall monitor implementation of the plans required under this subtitle and shall submit a report, on or before October 1, 2022, and every 5 years thereafter, to the Governor and legislature that describes the State’s progress toward achieving:

1) The reductions in greenhouse gas emissions required under this subtitle; and

2) The greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed by 2050 in order to avoid dangerous anthropogenic changes to the Earth’s climate system, based on the predominant view of the scientific community at the time of the latest report.

SECTION 4. SEVERABILITY

The provisions of this Act shall be severable, and if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision is declared to be invalid or is preempted by federal law or regulation, the validity of the remainder of this Act shall not be affected.

SECTION 5. EFFECTIVE DATE

This Act shall take effect on XXXX 1, 2016


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