States Can Take Key Steps to Influence Federal Climate Change Policy

Sep 07, 2007, 01:00 ET from World Resources Institute

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A World Resources
 Institute analysis has identified certain state actions that historically
 have had strong influence in shaping federal policies, and recommends how
 states can affect impending federal decisions about climate change.
     With Congress poised to begin deliberating national climate change
 legislation this fall, states across the country are anxious to see how the
 federal government will look at state climate change efforts. Mindful of
 the role state "laboratories" have traditionally played in federal policy
 development, WRI undertook an historical analysis to determine the factors
 of state policies that have most strongly influenced previous federal
 policy efforts such as gun control, welfare reform, vehicle emissions and
 nitrogen oxide trading, among others.
     "Climate change is an international crisis, and the U.S. is far behind
 other countries in drafting a national strategy," said Dr. Jonathan
 Pershing, co-author of Climate Policy in the State Laboratory and director
 of the Climate, Energy and Pollution Program at WRI. "Fortunately, climate
 change policy experiments have been taking place in the state laboratory
 for the past five years. The lessons states are learning can support
 federal policy that mitigates climate change, creates jobs and opportunity
 in the US and helps diversify our energy sources."
     WRI's analysis and recommendations are detailed in Climate Policy in
 the State Laboratory: How States Influence Federal Regulation and the
 Implications for Climate Change Policy in the United States, a white paper
 released today for public officials, business representatives, and
 non-government experts.
     WRI's recommendations, based on the analysis, to states that wish to
 influence federal legislation on climate change policy include:
     -- State should support investment in communication programs to allow
        state experts to speak in public forums and provide testimony on state
        policy goals.
     -- States should not delay their own policy design and implementation.
        State policy action taken today is more likely to inform and shape
        federal outcomes.
     -- States should disseminate analyses, modeling, forecasts, and program
        data to better inform the federal policy debate.
     -- Collective, coordinated action at the state level can lead to
        reductions and infrastructure investments that help smooth the
        transition to a clean, low-carbon economy.
     -- State climate policy stakeholder processes that engage, and educate the
        business community as well as leverage business experiences may help
        ensure business support and speed policy adoption.
     Two current state-level policy experiments appear to be poised to have
 a profound effect on U.S. federal climate change policy, according to WRI's
 analysis: the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and California's
 greenhouse gas vehicle standards, also known as the 2002 "Pavley bill."
 These initiatives possess factors that WRI identified as most influential,
 such as a push by state champions, and their potential to serve as examples
 from which other states can easily learn.
     These, and other environmental cases WRI examined, suggest that a
 future federal policy may employ some form of partial federal preemption
 that would establish minimum guidelines for states to follow in reducing
 greenhouse gas emissions. This, in turn, suggests that the states could
 play a leading role in greenhouse gas regulation and innovation for decades
 to come.
     "The state laboratory phenomenon is a fundamental part of our federal
 form of governance," said Dr. Paul Posner, an expert on federalism at
 George Mason University and a co-author of the WRI analysis. "It is no
 mistake that the Founding Fathers created a system by which the more
 politically maneuverable state governments could experiment with policy
 issues too politically charged or legislatively complex for the federal
 government to act on."
     Copies of the paper can be downloaded at:
     The World Resources Institute ( is an independent, non-
 partisan and nonprofit organization with a staff of more than 100
 scientists, economists, policy experts, business analysts, statistical
 analysts, mapmakers, and communicators developing and promoting policies
 that will help protect the Earth and improve people's lives.

SOURCE World Resources Institute