State-Level Decarbonization Lags Behind

With Donald Trump in office, the struggle against climate change may be up to the states. But are even the greenest states doing enough, especially as they continue shuttering nuclear plants?

1 minute read

February 3, 2017, 6:00 AM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station

Anthony Hall / Shutterstock

While state governments, California's in particular, offer up fighting words to the Trump administration on climate, Eduardo Porter says they aren't doing enough. "California is far from providing the leadership needed in the battle against climate change. Distracted by the competing objective of shuttering nuclear plants that still produce over a fifth of its zero-carbon power, the state risks failing the main environmental challenge of our time."

Citing a Brookings study ranking U.S. states by their decarbonization progress, Porter writes, "Despite its aggressive deployment of wind turbines and solar panels, the carbon intensity of California's economy — measured by the CO2 emissions per unit of economic product — declined by only 26.6 percent between 2000 and 2014. That put it in 28th place." Per person, California's carbon emissions were the third lowest in 2014, behind only Washington D.C. and New York.

Efforts to decarbonize have thus far tackled the lowest-hanging fruit: coal. "Most of the gains in the United States have come relatively easily, not from the deployment of renewables but from the wholesale switch from coal to cheaper and cleaner natural gas. Much of that transition has played itself out, however." In light of sluggish decarbonization efforts, Porter questions recent state-level decisions to close nuclear generating stations.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 in The New York Times

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

California Governor Gavin Newsom announcing funding for tiny home shelter project in front of quick-build tiny home shelter unit.

California’s Tiny Home Pledge Still on Paper, One Year Later

A promise to fund 1,200 tiny homes for unhoused residents in four cities as a way to rapidly and cost-effectively provide shelter has yet to yield tangible results, but projects are moving ahead in some cities.

May 24 - CALmatters

Residential neighborhood in Colorado with fall foliage and snowy mountains in background.

Colorado Ends Non-Family Occupancy Limits

Local jurisdictions will no longer be able to limit how many unrelated adults can live in a household, a move that supporters say will help lower housing costs and help older adults supplement their incomes and stay in their homes.

May 24 - Strong Towns

A white crosswalk painted by Crosswalk Collective LA in Los Angeles, California.

Guerilla Urbanism Spurs Action From Cities

Rather than take a hostile approach to DIY urbanism, some cities are using guerilla efforts as an opportunity to understand critical infrastructure gaps.

May 24 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.