On Monday, Environment America launched its 2021 100% Renewable campaign in 13 states. To some, it may seem like an odd time to launch a multi-state campaign for 100 percent renewable energy. Sure, it’s still early in the New Year, and many groups are rolling out their plans and ambitions for 2021. But we’re also in the midst of the first 30 days of a new presidential administration, and the Biden team has been busy with a flurry of climate and energy actions that will impact the energy future of our entire nation. In the midst of all that, you might find yourself wondering why an advocacy group would be emphasizing state energy policy right now.
Let me explain why I’m so excited to be kicking off this campaign at this moment.
For starters, working in the states is essential because we have years of state leadership to thank for the momentum, progress and newfound national ambition we are seeing today. In 2018, California sparked a nationwide trend when it passed Senate Bill 100 (SB100), committing the Golden State to getting 100 percent of its electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2045. To date, seven states and more than 170 cities have similarly committed to achieving 100 percent clean or renewable electricity, and one in three Americans now lives in a community bound to that vision.
And it’s not just commitments that are taking off — the pace of concrete renewable energy growth in the U.S is also on the rise. As Environment America Research & Policy Center’s latest Renewables on the Rise report shows, state policies — from clean energy standards to ambitious solar programs — played an outsized role in increasing the nation’s share of renewable electricity more than 20-fold over the last 20 years. With that kind of track record, it’s no wonder that our federal leaders are looking to take a page from state policy books.
But, as I wrote back in January, it isn’t going to be easy to pass a broad, ambitious federal commitment to go 100 percent. With that in mind, now continues to be a great time to keep doing what we know is already working. State energy leadership is successfully moving us toward the clean and renewable energy future we need, and also fueling a race to the top between states. That’s exactly what we need to lean further into.
Beyond that, a robust campaign for bold state renewable energy targets has the ability to serve as fuel for the Biden Administration’s national push for action. The more states that commit to a clean energy transition, and the more ambitious their plans, the easier it will become for the Biden administration to make the case for — and even pass — a bold plan for the whole country.
Now that you know why states continue to represent some of our best opportunities to advance a clean and renewable energy future, here are some opportunities I’m most excited about:
California: While California was one of the first states to pass a legislative commitment to go 100 percent, Environment California is now calling on the governor and state legislature to accelerate the Golden State’s transition and move its existing 100 percent clean energy target up from 2045 to 2030. As a national environmental leader, California can and should continue setting the pace for the nation.
Minnesota: Environment Minnesota is advocating for Rep. Jamie Long’s 100% Clean Energy Bill, which requires 100 percent carbon free electricity by 2040 and sets an interim target of 55 percent renewable energy by 2035. Those ambitious goals would help Minnesota emerge as a clean energy leader in the Midwest, and could help bring others in the region along with it.
New Jersey: Environment New Jersey is supporting legislation that would commit the Garden State to reaching 100 percent clean, renewable electricity statewide by 2035. The bill comes as part of an effort to implement the state Global Warming Response Act, which requires a 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions statewide by 2050, and would mean tapping into the state’s immense offshore wind energy potential.
Pennsylvania: With the help of PennEnvironment, state legislators are gearing up to reintroduce legislation in both the House and Senate to transition the commonwealth to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. State Rep. Chris Rabb has championed the bill since its initial introduction in 2018 and will sponsor the House version once again. Last session, the bill was co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 100 legislators, demonstrating that a clean energy future really is something everyone can get behind.
Check out all 13 states where we’re pushing for 100 percent renewable energy, and join us by calling on your home state to make the next commitment. Add your name to our One Million for 100% Renewable Energy project today to get started.