Environmental Legislation Around Earth Day

Earth Day was Monday April 22, 2019. Earth Day has become an annual celebration of the environment and a push for environmental protection since 1970. The President issued an Earth Day message that mentioned the beautiful scenery of the United States, but then turned to a discussion of economic prosperity and job growth in the nation during his time in office.

Some state governments have focused on passing legislation to help the environment. In Nevada, Governor Sisolak signed Senate Bill 358 into law on Earth Day. The bill commits the state to raise its renewable portfolio standard to 50% by the year 2030. This means that half of the energy in the state will have to come from renewable sources. In Washington State, two pieces of legislation are awaiting the signature of the Governor. Senate Bill 5116 sets the goal of implementing a carbon neutral electricity supply by the year 2030 and carbon free by the year 2045. The bill also requires the elimination of coal usage for power generation by 2025. Failure to comply with requirements under the bill could force utilities to pay administrative penalties. Washington also passed House Bill 1112, which calls for the phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons. The legislation seeks to implement EPA regulations that were previously introduced by the agency, but were halted when an appeals court ruled that the agency lacked authority to require the replacement of hydrofluorocarbons once the replacement of original ozone depleting substances had occurred.

Other states used Earth Day to propose new legislation to protect the planet. In Wisconsin, legislators introduced Assembly Bill 177, which would repeal a statute that does not allow political subdivisions to regulate auxiliary containers, meaning bags, cups, bottles, cans, or other packaging designed to be reusable or single use. Repeal of this legislation would allow for bans or surcharges on the use of single use plastics and Styrofoam containers. In North Carolina, House Bill 767 would establish a state goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.

The City of New York voted on a number of environment related bills ahead of Earth Day this year. Dubbed the Climate Mobilization Act, the legislation looks to achieve many different goals. One bill looks to limit emissions of greenhouse gases based on occupancy groups in buildings. Another would establish a property assessed clean energy program to enable energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to receive long term financing with very little up-front costs. Another would look to investigate the feasibility of replacing gas fired power plants in the city with battery storage systems. Other legislation would require green roof installation on city buildings. Finally, to go along with the state fee that was passed on plastic bags, the city would impose a fee on paper bags.

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