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State Legislatures: Climate Change Threatens State Economies « The Washington Independent

My previous post reports on a UC Berkeley study showing how California’s environmental policies have boosted that state’s economy.

The National Conference of State Legislatures, in conjunction with the University of Maryland and the Center for Integrative Environmental Research, is releasing reports that also show that economic and environmental interests are aligning in other states.

The studies lay out the rising economic costs of global warming on states’ agriculture, water resources, public health, tourism, transportation, forestry and infrastructure. In some states, cutting greenhouse gas emissions has reduced these costs and fostered economic growth.

The conference recommends that all states pursue tougher environmental regulations because a state’s economy is invariably linked to the economies of its neighbors.

Among the states featured in the new reports are North Carolina, Tennessee, North Dakota and Pennsylvania (pdf here). (Cost-analysis reports for Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Ohio were released in July at the conference’s Legislative Summit in New Orleans.)

As in California, energy-efficiency policies are the most cost-effective options for states seeking to reduce greenhouse gases, according to the reports. Minnesota, for instance, saw a return of $3 in economic gains for every dollar spent on its energy-efficiency programs. Other states are considering legislation that would require new buildings to meet certain efficiency standards, while renovations of existing ones would have to meet green standards. You can read the cost reports for 12 states here.

The policy recommendations of the National Conference of State Legislatures will probably encounter some resistance from industry forces. But if California’s example shows anything, it’s that industry can benefit from tougher environmental protections.

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