Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), preventing the Obama administration from taking steps to carry out one of its central environmental initiatives, shocking both opponents and proponents.
Recently, the Climate and Energy Economics Project at Brookings hosted two former governors along with environmental policy experts to discuss the Clean Power Plan, its importance, the challenges it faces, and how the United States can be a role model for decarbonization. Former Governors Bill Ritter (D-CO) and Christie Todd Whitman (R-NJ) discussed the drastic impact of the environment on national security, how states can continue work on implementation plans despite the uncertainty created by the Supreme Court, and the U.S.’s commitments to the international community. The conversation was moderated by Economic Studies Senior Fellow Adele Morris.
Governor Whitman framed clean energy as a health issue for the country. She noted that 93,000 people died from dirty air in the United States in 2013 and lamented that this problem does not get enough attention from the American public or politicians. Watch:
In his opening remarks, Governor Ritter discussed individual state actions to decarbonize and explained what the current Supreme Court decision means for the movement. Watch:
Governor Whitman, while lauding the international community’s actions to preserve the environment, explained how positive actions taken by the U.S. are undermined by its failure to live up to commitments it has made to the international community. She argued that the U.S.’s failure to sign the Kyoto Protocol or meet its decarbonization promises is equivalent to “flipping the bird” to countries that care about energy emissions. Watch:
Governor Ritter expressed disappointment in Congress’s lack of decisive action on decarbonization and other climate measures. He praised the Clean Power Plan as the “crown jewel of Obama’s Climate Action Plan” and commended the recent and coming actions on energy policy made by the international community. Watch:
This event also included a panel discussion with experts on environmental policy and politics who discussed data issues, political sustainability, and the role of state and local governments in energy policy and the implementation of the Clean Power Plan. This panel included Greg R. White, executive director of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners; Jonas Monast, director of the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University; Josh Linn of Resources for the Future, and Brookings Fellow Philip A. Wallach.
Get the full event video here.
Brennan Hoban contributed to this piece
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[On the politics of climate impacts in the U.S.] The political alignment around climate impacts is almost the exact opposite of the political alignment around emissions control.
[On the geographic distribution of climate impacts in the U.S.] The damages to the Republican-electing congressional districts is almost double what it is for the Democratic-voting districts.