No Looking Back: New England Leading the Way on Climate

Greg Cunningham | @GregCLF

A year after the election of Donald Trump, at least one thing is clear: New England is not buying into his nostalgia for an America we left behind a long time ago. Despite the President’s rhetoric, the end of the fossil fuel era has already begun.

With the region’s last two coal plants sitting today on the auction block, the so-called “war on coal” is over here. Indeed, Massachusetts recently rolled out a set of groundbreaking rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And New England states are in the process of investing in new wind, solar, and hydropower sources with the power equivalent of five big coal- or natural gas-fired power plants.

What’s more, collectively, the region has opted out of building new natural gas pipelines. Instead, innovators across the region are working hard to use our energy more efficiently, produce electricity from our backyards and rooftops, and store it effectively so that we can rely less on existing gas-fired power plants. Meanwhile, all of our states have agreed to pursue electric vehicle corridors and charging networks to make it easier for us all to ditch our gas-guzzlers. They are also looking at market-based methods such as carbon pricing to drive dirty fuels out of our transportation sector for good.

New England Has Been Here Before

Trump’s actions to pull us out of the Paris Climate Accord, layer his administration with climate change skeptics, dismantle the Clean Power Plan, and defund climate programs while replacing science with blind ideology won’t keep New England from doing what’s right for our health, our pocketbooks, and our environment.

This is a familiar position for New Englanders. We’ve led the way on climate change before: the region launched the first carbon cap-and-trade program in the country in 2007, a time when another climate compromiser sat in the White House. That program has already led to a 45% drop in climate-damaging emissions, even as the region gained billions of dollars in economic activity.

And so when Trump announced his intent to replace the Clean Power Plan, the New England Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative states didn’t blink. Instead, we worked with our neighboring states to upgrade the program to drive carbon pollution down a further 30% over the next 12 years. With this effort, we have not only demonstrated that meaningful state climate action can counter a federal leadership vacuum, but that it can go hand in hand with economic growth.

New England for Paris Maintains Forward Momentum Here

There’s more work to be done and CLF has a plan of action. As most of our governors have answered the call to join states across the country in upholding the U.S. commitment to the international Paris Climate Accord, CLF has developed our “New England for Paris” campaign to help get us there. We will demand that states back their commitments with actions and that actions produce measurable results.

Even as we forge ahead here in New England, we’re not letting the Trump administration get away with its climate-denying policies in Washington. We’re joining with partners to defend Clean Air Act regulations that limit climate-damaging emissions from our power plants and natural gas system and that promote the electrification of all of our modes of transportation.

New England is helping point the way to a better future for our politically divided nation and our shared planet where economic prosperity, creative innovation, and a healthy climate go hand in hand. There’s no turning our backs on our zero-carbon future now.

Focus Areas

Climate Change

About the CLF Blog

The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of Conservation Law Foundation, our boards, or our supporters.