March 28, 2008
CONNECTICUT'S CLIMATE CHANGE INITIATIVES
By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst
You asked for background on Connecticut's climate change initiatives, including previous legislative and executive branch actions and pending legislation on this subject.
The state has adopted a wide variety of legislation specifically addressing climate change since 1991. Among the most noteworthy acts were:
1. PA 04-84, which requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) commissioner to adopt regulations implementing California's emissions standards for cars and other light-duty motor vehicles;
2. PA 04-252, which requires (1) the state to take steps to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of a regional effort to reduce such emissions and (2) the Governor's Steering Committee on Climate Change to develop plans to help achieve the reduction goals;
3. PA 06-161, which requires the DEP commissioner, in consultation with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) commissioner, to (1) establish a GHG labeling program for new motor vehicles sold or leased in Connecticut beginning with the 2009 model year and (2) educate the public about the labeling program and GHGs; and
4. PA 07-242, which requires DEP to adopt regulations to implement the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), an interstate program to reduce emissions of gases that contribute to global warming.
This session, there are two bills that deal specifically with climate change. sHB 5600, favorably reported by the Environment Committee, mandates a wide range of measures to reduce GHG emissions. The bill affects the power generating, transportation and building sectors. sSB 23, favorably reported by the Energy and Technology Committee, requires each agency to adopt and submit energy conservation and climate change action plans to the Office of Policy and Management secretary and the DEP commissioner every two years. It also establishes a “green collar” job training program. In addition, there are a number of bills promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy.
During the same time, the Executive Branch has taken a number of significant actions to address climate change. In 2001, the governors of Connecticut and the other New England states and the eastern Canadian premiers issued a Climate Change Action Plan. Among other things, the plan sets short-, medium-, and long-term goals for reductions in GHG emissions and identifies steps to achieve these goals. Since 2003, DEP and other state agencies have been participating in RGGI, developing a cap-and–trade program to reduce CO2 from power plants. In 2005, a steering committee consisting of five state agency heads submitted its proposed climate change action plan to the legislature in 2005, as required by PA 04-252. The plan identifies specific measures to achieve the goal established by the New England governors and eastern Canadian provincial premiers. The plan includes 55 recommendations in electric generation and four other areas. Further information about the Executive Branch's efforts to respond to climate change can be found at http://www.ctclimatechange.com/.
PA 91-395 requires the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station to evaluate effects of changes in climate caused by greenhouse gases, including effects on agriculture, and requires the state forester to study urban tree planting. It also requires the state Plan of Conservation and Development to include goals for reducing the growth rate in vehicle miles traveled after the year 2000 and for a significant decrease in single occupancy commuter trips.
PA 04-84 requires the DEP commissioner to adopt, by December 31, 2004, regulations implementing California's emissions standards for light-duty motor vehicles (passenger cars and trucks with a maximum loaded weight of 8,500 pounds) and to keep them current with changes California makes. The regulations apply beginning with the 2008 model year. The act explicitly authorizes the commissioner to regulate motor vehicle emissions for other vehicle classes. Under prior law, Connecticut, which participates in the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Low Emission Vehicle Program, could incorporate the California standards by reference.
PA 04-231 exempts from the sales tax, until October 1, 2008, hybrid passenger cars that achieve a U. S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated highway gasoline mileage rating of at least 40 miles per gallon. It also requires that the fleet average for each class of cars or light duty trucks the state buys have the best achievable mileage per pound of CO2 emitted.
PA 04-252 requires (1) the state to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of a regional effort to reduce such emissions and (2) the Governor's Steering Committee on Climate Change to develop plans to help achieve the reduction goals. It requires the environmental protection commissioner to (1) report annually on progress in achieving the goals and (2) work to establish a regional greenhouse gas registry and regional reporting system with other states or a regional consortium. The act requires certain electric generators and commercial and industrial sites annually to report their GHG emissions to the registry. The commissioner must also annually consider requiring (1) additional facilities or sectors to report to the regional greenhouse gas registry and (2) the reporting of additional GHG, and direct and indirect emissions.
The act also required the commissioner:
1. provide for the voluntary reporting of GHG emissions by entities not required to report,
2. evaluate the feasibility of creating and administering a statewide registry if a regional registry is not developed and implemented, and
3. publish a greenhouse gas emissions inventory every three years.
The act requires the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to develop and maintain information about environmentally preferable practices, in addition to environmentally preferable products and services the law already requires, including those practices, products, and services that minimize the impact of global warming. But it limits those practices, products, and services to those DAS procures.
PA 06-161 requires the DEP commissioner, in consultation with the DMV commissioner, to (1) establish a GHG labeling program for new motor vehicles sold or leased in Connecticut beginning with the 2009 model year and (2) educate the public about the labeling program and GHGs. It funds these programs through a $5 fee the DMV must impose on new car registrations, starting January 1, 2007, and bars the sale or lease of a 2009 or later model year motor vehicle without the required GHG label. The act applies to vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less.
It requires the DEP, in consultation with the Governor's Steering Committee on Climate Change, to determine by October 1, 2006, (the date on which this provision takes effect) the amount of motor vehicle GHG emission reductions needed to meet the state's GHG goals. The DEP must submit its findings, together with any recommended legislation, in its 2007 annual climate change report to the Environment Committee.
PA 07-242 requires DEP to adopt regulations to implement RGGI. It requires DEP, in consultation with the Department of Public Utility Control, to auction all of the emission allowances and invest the proceeds in electric conservation and load management and class I renewable energy programs for the benefit of electric ratepayers. In making the investments, the commissioner must consider strategies that maximize cost-effective reductions in emissions.
The regulations can allow part of the proceeds to be used for administrative costs and to fund assessment and planning of measures to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change. No more than 7.5% of the value of the allowances can be used for these purposes. It allows part of the allowances to be set aside for voluntary renewable energy provisions of the RGGI model rule and cogeneration systems. Any allowances allocated to electric companies' conservation programs must be factored into the companies' planning and procurement process established in the act. Further information about RGGI is available at http://www.rggi.org/.
The act makes many changes to the state's energy laws. Among other things, it restores funding for the electric conservation and clean energy funds and establishes new energy efficiency programs and tax incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy. There are separate efficiency measures for electricity, heating fuels, and vehicles.
The act also:
1. broadens and increases the state's “green building” requirements;
2. requires electric companies, with the approval of the Department of Public Utility Control, to engage in “integrated resources planning” in which the need for electricity is first met by conservation;
3. increases the proportion of the power sold in the state that must come from renewable resources;
4. creates a sales tax exemption from January 1, 2008 until July 1, 2010, for vehicles with city or highway fuel efficiencies of at least 40 miles per gallon; and
5. makes various other changes regarding renewable energy.
sHB 5600 An Act Concerning Connecticut Global Warming Solutions (favorably reported by the Environment Committee)
This bill mandates a wide range of measures to reduce GHG emissions. The bill affects the power generating, transportation and building sectors.
Current law sets state GHG emission reduction goals for the years 2010, 2020, and 2050. The bill requires the state to meet its 2020 and 2050 goals and makes a number of other changes designed to reduce GHG emissions. It:
1. requires the DEP commissioner to establish emission limits for the electric industry;
2. expands reporting requirements by requiring owners and operators of certain stationary emission sources to report GHG emissions to the regional greenhouse gas registry;
3. requires the state building inspector and the Codes and Standards Committee to revise the State Building Code to include the most stringent energy standards available;
4. creates more stringent building construction energy standards, and requires the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), after consulting with DEP and the departments of Public Works and Public Safety, to adopt regulations for new construction or major renovation of a state-owned or -leased building;
5. prohibits issuance of a certificate of occupancy for new construction or major renovation unless it meets the more stringent energy standards, and creates a new class of certified energy inspector;
6. requires state-owned or -leased facilities to offset their GHG emissions through investments in land use-based carbon offsets in Connecticut;
7. requires the Transportation Department to investigate possible expanded high speed and light rail passenger service and expanded freight rail service in the northeast;
8. requires OPM secretary to develop a model municipal smart growth code;
9. requires state agencies, when conducting a Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) environmental impact evaluation, to include an analysis of the effect of the proposed action on GHG and other air pollutant emissions and the state's economic and safety needs;
10. allows proceeds from the auction of emission allowances be to used to cover certain DEP administrative costs;
11. authorizes the creation, by regulation, of a low-carbon fuel standard for motor vehicle and home heating fuels;
12. requires DEP to work with other states and Canadian provinces to develop market-based compliance mechanisms to achieve the GHG limits; and
13. makes other changes.
The bill also prohibits load-serving entities from signing a power purchase agreement for, and bars DEP from permitting, a new base-load fossil fuel power plant that begins operating after June 1, 2008 if it exceeds the CO2 emissions rate of 1,100 pounds per megawatt-hour for the total emissions associated with producing electricity.
sSB 23 An Act Concerning Global Climate Change (favorably reported by the Energy and Technology Committee)
Among other things, this bill requires each agency to adopt and submit an energy conservation and climate change action plan to the OPM secretary and the DEP commissioner. They must do so by April 1 of each odd-numbered year. The plan must describe existing and future activities and facilities improvements designed to meet energy savings goals, as established by the governor, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with levels outlined in the state's 2005 climate change action plan. The secretary, in conjunction with the commissioner, must establish guidelines for and review all state agency plans and report their findings to the governor.
The bill also requires that a green collar jobs program be offered through the regional vocational-technical school system. The program may include, but not be limited to, training for energy efficient building, construction and building retrofit trades and industries; residential, commercial or industrial energy efficiency assessment; renewable energy technologies; and sustainable climate change and environmental compliance strategies. Funding for the green collar jobs program must come from fuel oil and natural gas conservation accounts described above and the Energy Conservation and Load Management Fund, which is funded by electric company ratepayers. Funding for this program for FY 09 is capped at $125,000.
EXECUTIVE BRANCH ACTIONS
2001 Climate Change Action Plan
In August 2001, the governors of Connecticut and the other New England states and the eastern Canadian premiers issued a Climate Change Action Plan. The plan sets three goals for the region as a whole. These are:
1. a short-term goal of reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2010;
2. a mid-term goal of reducing GHG emissions by at least 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, putting in place a process to adjust those goals if necessary; and
3. a long-term goal of reducing regional GHG emissions to eliminate any danger to the climate. (The plan estimates that it would require reductions of 75% to 85% below current levels to achieve this last goal.)
The plan identifies the following steps to achieve its goals:
1. establishing a regional standardized GHG emissions inventory to help identify specific measures to reduce emissions;
2. creating plans in each state or province to reduce GHG emissions and conserve energy;
3. promoting public awareness to build support for the plans;
4. reducing GHG emissions in the public sector;
5. reducing GHG emissions generated by electricity production;
6. encouraging energy conservation programs;
7. establishing a climate change monitoring network ca[pable of adapting to inevitable changes in climate;
8. reducing the rate of growth in GHG emissions in the transportation sector; and
9. creating a regional emissions registry as a basis for emissions banking and trading, and exploring a trading mechanism.
The plan is available online at http://www.ctclimatechange.com/.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
In April 2003, New York Governor George E. Pataki sent letters to the 11 governors from Maine to Maryland, inviting their states to participate in discussions to develop a regional cap-and-trade program covering CO2 emissions from power plants within two years. By July 2003, the governor had received positive responses from eight governors, including Connecticut's. The governors agreed to have their representatives participate in the discussions. After discussions got underway, representatives from the Eastern Canadian Provinces Secretariat and the Province of New Brunswick began observing the process. Maryland and Pennsylvania also send representatives to observe the process.
In August 2003, staff representatives were assembled from the nine participating states' environmental agencies (including the Connecticut DEP), as well as many of the state energy regulatory agencies. This group, called the “RGGI Staff Working Group,” drafted an action plan that lays out the process to develop a regional cap-and-trade program covering CO2 emissions from power plants. On September 29, 2003, the environmental commissioners and many of the energy regulatory agency chief executives endorsed the action plan.
The participating states agreed to develop a multi-state cap-and-trade program covering GHG emissions. The program is aimed at developing a program to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants in the participating states, while maintaining energy affordability and reliability. The program seeks, to the extent feasible, to accommodate the diversity in policies and programs in individual states. After the cap-and-trade program for power plants is implemented, the states may consider expanding the program to other kinds of sources.
The action plan also establishes principles for the design of the program including: emphasizing uniformity across the participating states; building on existing successful cap-and-trade programs; ensuring that the program is expandable and flexible, allowing other states or jurisdictions to join in the initiative; starting the program simply by focusing on a core cap-and-trade program for power plants; and focusing on reliable offset protocols (i.e., credits for reductions outside of the power sector) in a subsequent design phase.
2005 Connecticut Climate Change Plan
As required by PA 04-252, a steering committee consisting of five state agency heads submitted its proposed climate change action plan to the legislature in 2005. The plan identifies specific measures to achieve the goal established by the New England governors and eastern Canadian provincial premiers.
The plan includes 55 recommendations in electric generation and four other areas. The electric generation recommendations include: (1) increasing the amount of renewable energy supplied to the electric grid, (2) implementing a program for electric customers to choose a “green” option, (3) increasing the state government's purchase of clean energy, and (4) a package of energy efficiency and cogeneration measures. Other recommendations include establishing oil and natural gas conservation programs and encouraging development of landfill gas-to-energy projects.
The plan describes each of the recommendations in detail and the amount they would contribute to reducing GHG emissions in 2010 and 2020. The plan estimates the costs and benefits of most but not all recommendations. For some recommendations, the plan estimates the cost or net benefit per ton of emissions reduced. The committee and the governor have designated 38 of the 55 recommendations for immediate implementation. The plan estimates the costs and benefits of several individual recommendations as a package, e.g., those dealing with electricity conservation.