Monday, November 10, 2008

US Green Legislation

All across America Green legislation is on the rise at all governmental levels. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was signed into law on December 19, 2007. Green legislation is on the rise at the local and State level. According to the USGBC, 13 federal agencies, 27 states, 72 cities, 22 counties and 16 towns have passed various types of green legislation in the US. According to Statenet.com, in 2007, 363 bills pertaining to Green were introduced in state legislatures.

The enacted measures cover a wide variety of topics including study, tax rebates, regulating electric power generating facilities; GHG inventory programs, cap and trade, interstate pacts and emission reduction targets, and global warming index labels on motor vehicles.

The public and their elected officials are not the only ones seeking Green legislation. US institutional investors and corporate businesses have called for Green legislation. As reported in the Boston Globe last spring, 65 investor groups and financial companies, managing a combined $4 trillion in assets signed a statement that urged Congress to pass strict laws to curb GHG. The agreement, calls for federal legislation that would reduce carbon dioxide by 60 to 90 percent by 2050, compared with 1990 levels.

"What businesses need to move forward is a mandatory policy that finally will address the global financial risk of climate change," Mindy Lubber, the president of Ceres, a nonprofit network of investors and environmental groups, said, "It's very hard for businesses to act without certainty. To fully develop the alternative energy industry and spur investment in technologies that reduce pollution from fossil fuels," Lubber said, "Congress needs to mandate limits on carbon dioxide emissions and establish penalties for any company that exceeds those limits. "That's when the new innovators and the new technologies are going to come out."

In January 2008, several large corporations - including DuPont, Alcoa and General Electric - said they favored strict limits on emissions. In a news conference the list of those joining that call included Merrill Lynch, Calvert, Allianz, BP America and the California Public Employees' Retirement System. Others included the state treasurers of Vermont, Connecticut and Maine; the utilities National Grid and Green Mountain Power; the investors Boston Common Asset Management, Walden Asset Management and Trillium Asset Management; and Green Mountain Coffee.

Joachim Faber, a member of Allianz's governing board, said his company believed "it is essential to put a price tag on carbon, thereby enabling market mechanisms to drive emissions reductions and climate protection."The Vermont treasurer, Jeb Spaulding, said he signed onto the initiative to "look out for the financial interests and future" of his state. "The issue of climate change has a substantial impact on the future economy of Vermont," he said, "whether it be in the recreational or agricultural industries. If you look into the future, global warming poses a substantial risk."

Early in October the Senate pushed through major renewable energy legislation in its bailout package, with tax credits that will stimulate economic growth and buoy the stock market. The package includes a one-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind installations. An 8-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar (and) Removal of the prior $2,000 cap for residential solar installation

However, rather than making renewable energy incentives the top priority, the house changed the bill and now clean tax credits are the now lumped with less deserving projects in a massive new taxation section in the restructured rescue plan.

Renewables are an important part of an essential energy mix that will provide green jobs and keep billions of dollars in the US.

The New York Times reports that "Green policies have created 1.5 million jobs over 30 years in California, while eliminating only 25,000." A recent study, "found that while the state’s policies lowered employee compensation in the electric power industry by an estimated $1.6 billion over that period, it improved compensation in the state over all by $44.6 billion."

Green legislation is desirable because it is not only good for the earth, it is also good for investors and the economy. The recent election of President Obama suggests that the federal government will soon be joining State and local authorities in championing green legislation.

Next: European Green Legislation / Chinese Green Legislation

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