Climate Action in the States – Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas

In this post of examining climate action across the United States, we are focusing on Kentucky, Missouri, and Kansas. Three states in the middle of the county, each working to address the climate crisis in their own ways. 

In Kentucky the focus is on the economy and creating resilient jobs. While in Missouri much of the work on climate is in academia, lead by professors and students. And with its great wind energy potential, Kansas is leading the country on renewable power generation.

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Climate Action Across the Country – Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico

This month we are looking at three south-central states: Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Each of these states is moving forward with climate action in their own way. 

  • Texas is interesting from a climate perspective because much of its revenue is generated from fossil fuels industries while it also experiences extreme climate-related disasters: hurricanes, wildfires, sea level rise, extreme winter weather, etc. Despite polarizing public views on climate change, there is a lot of climate action by federal agencies, academia, local governments and committed nonprofits.
  • Oklahoma is a state where it is difficult to talk about “climate change” but it is fine to say “sustainability” and to talk about wind power.  The state gets 35% of its energy generation from wind, which also brings jobs and economic growth to the state. A few cities and the state university system are also moving forward with climate action. 
  • New Mexico shows bipartisan support of businesses and community leaders to make a transition away from coal and toward a clean energy economy. And re-election of Governor Grisham in 2022 will allow her climate program, launched by Executive Order in 2019, to continue to develop.

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Climate Action Across the Country – Delaware, Connecticut, and South Carolina

In this post we are focusing on the eastern seaboard – specifically the states of Delaware, Connecticut, and South Carolina. While these three states all share the threat of sea level rise, their actions highlight the diversity of approaches to climate change.

  • Delaware is actively working to address climate change. A Climate Action Plan, completed in November 2021, includes all state agencies’ operations and offers support, training, and improved communication with local communities. As part of this, the state partnered with the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) to provide professional development level certifications in climate competency. This Climate Leadership Academy is available to state and local government leaders, infrastructure executives, and business leaders in 2022.
  • Connecticut’s Governor Lamont and various state agencies are deeply engaged in climate work and have been for many years. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) created a portal that documents all climate laws, executive orders, and initiatives in the state since 2004, demonstrating the state’s long and committed efforts to both mitigate and adapt to climate impacts.
  • At the state level, South Carolina has not done much to address climate change beyond federally-mandated hazard mitigation planning. Despite the lack of state support and limited authority of local governments, there are small moves towards climate action.

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Climate Action in the States – Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi

The theme this month is Mississippi River states. These states are good examples of why each state needs the ability to direct its own climate work. Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi share borders but have very different circumstances that affect how climate issues are seen and addressed by both residents and policy makers.

  • Arkansas is moving forward with building an electric vehicle charging network, fostering a solar power industry, while also requiring the coal fired power plants to be evaluated every three years. There are municipal and university climate programs, and a business association for non-fossil fuel energy. Despite a lack of formal state level support, there are people on the ground working to move climate action forward.
  • Tennessee has a strong cohort of people taking action on mitigation, including developing a statewide electric vehicle charging network, solar propagation, and wind power development. Universities in the state are teaching about sustainability and climate mitigation. Unfortunately, there is not much work yet on climate adaptation.
  • Mississippi focuses on issues of climate resilience like sea level rise, storm impacts on the coast, oil spill recovery, and impacts to inhabitants of coastal areas. Despite no legislative interest in climate action, there is a very strong cohort comprised of MS State University, the MS-AL Sea Grant, Cooperative Extension, and the NOAA Gulf of Mexico Regional Collaboration. There is also growing momentum for solar power and electric vehicle charging across the state.

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Climate Action Across the Country: Nevada, Utah, Colorado

In this update we are focusing on three western states: Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. These three states are all taking action on climate change and working hard to protect their communities. 

  • In one of his first actions as Nevada’s Governor, Steve Sisolak launched a strong climate agenda with a 2019 Executive Order. The state has been busy working to address climate change ever since.
  • Leaders and voters in Utah are supporting climate action, even if it’s not always identified as such in the legislation. Both the University of Utah and Utah State University Cooperative Extension have very strong climate programs. There is also a dedicated network of nonprofits across the state working on climate issues.
  • With strong economic interests in oil, gas, and coal industries, Colorado is an interesting state for climate action. Since 2015 government leaders, universities, nonprofits, and local communities have all worked to move the needle on climate change.

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Climate Action Across the Country – California, Oregon, Washington

This month we are looking at the western states of California, Oregon, and Washington. All are generally progressive states and have embraced climate change both socially and legislatively with policy, funding, and political will. Despite working on climate issues for many years, there is more to do. Fortunately all three are positioned to make real headway.

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Climate Resilience Planning in Lane County, Oregon

Lane County, Oregon is located on the western side of Oregon and stretches from the Three Sisters mountains to the Pacific Ocean. It is home to a diverse population in both rural and urban settings. In mid-2020 Beyond Toxics and NAACP Eugene/Springfield established a Climate Equity and Resilience Task Force. Comprised of community representatives and stakeholders who live and work with diverse and underrepresented communities in Lane County. their role was to ensure that the actions developed by the County in their Climate Action Plan were equitable. 

This effort provides a unique opportunity to see a successful collaboration between local government and community organizations. Both entities were committed to finding a pathway for community input, insights, and expertise in the County’s formal planning process. Beyond Toxics produced a countywide vulnerability assessment as a starting point. Next came developing meaningful strategies that incorporated community input while also reflecting the realities of Lane County staff and resources.

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Climate Action Across the Country – Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois

Our research into climate action in states across the country continues with Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. These 3 neighboring states share similar geography, economy, politics, and culture. Yet they have very different responses to climate change. These differences highlight the need for state-level climate leadership that can adapt and flex to the unique circumstances on the ground.

In Nebraska, the farming community is driving change, fueled by their pain from drought and other extreme weather. In Iowa, there is a growing movement to pressure the legislature to take action and  a strong Green Iowa Americorps with real boots on the ground. Illinois has been struggling with corruption in politics and their energy sector for years, but it looks like Governor Pritzker is breaking new ground with comprehensive clean energy legislation.

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