The following policy recommendations, which are applicable to every state in America, come from this new report ("Mitigating Natural Gas Use in the Electricity Sector: Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, and the Role of States in Implementing the Clean Power Plan").
By acting decisively to implement ambitious renewable energy and energy-efficiency programs, states can help ensure that the United States does not overcommit to natural gas and that it continues on a path toward decarbonization of the economy. States do not need to wait for the EPA to finalize the Clean Power Plan to get started. The Center for American Progress offers the following recommendations to state policymakers:
States should strengthen existing—or enact new—renewable energy standards to deploy additional renewable energy generating capacity as quickly and as aggressively as possible.
States should enact the strongest possible Energy Efficiency Resource Standards to set clear energy-savings targets for electric utilities. States also should adopt and implement stringent building efficiency codes and other product and equipment efficiency standards to cut customer demand for electricity.
States should enact policies to cut methane pollution from the oil and gas sector. This will achieve important reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and maximize the climate benefit of generating electricity from natural gas rather than coal.
States should consider innovative financing approaches, such as green banks, to attract private investment in new, low-carbon clean energy projects.
Without question, switching from coal to natural gas for power generation can reduce carbon pollution from the power sector. But fuel switching does not go far enough to achieve the deep reductions necessary to avert catastrophic climate change. States should make renewable energy and energy efficiency a cornerstone of their Clean Power Plan implementation and climate mitigation strategies.
Clearly, this is the way states should be going on energy policy. Of course, fossil fuel companies and the politicians who do their bidding will continue to work at blocking any move away from polluting energy and towards clean energy in the states. Fortunately, as we pointed out the other day, no matter how much money fossil fuel interests spend to attack clean energy, it’s difficult for them to win those battles due to wind and solar’s strong, bipartisan support across America. In turn, that support stems from clean energy's plummeting costs, as well as the fact that it's creating jobs and generating revenues for states across the country. In the end, those forces will almost certainly prove too strong even for the entrenched fossil fuel industry to defeat.