New External Resources
LPDD.org is being continually updated with new, external legal resources. Below is a selection of recently added resources of special interest:
- Washington’s Heat Pump Requirement for New Commercial Buildings: In April, Washington’s Building Code Council voted 11–3 to restrict the use of gas in new office complexes, apartment towers and other large facilities starting in July 2023. Under the revised code, new commercial buildings will have to use heat pumps for space heating. The plan would effectively ban HVAC systems that use fossil fuels like natural gas – including most standard furnaces – or systems that use electric resistance, such as baseboard heaters, wall heaters, radiant heat systems and electric furnaces. For water heating, 50% of water must be warmed by a heat pump system, while the rest can be heated by an additional source like electric resistance or fossil fuels.
- Washington’s Office of Renewable Fuels Legislation: In April, Washington adopted SB 5910, establishing the statewide Office of Renewable Fuels within the Department of Commerce to support renewable fuel and electrolytic hydrogen development. The Office of Renewable Fuels is tasked with developing a plan by December 1, 2023 addressing hydrogen permitting, procurement, and potential pilots. The Office is also tasked with applying for federal funding opportunities, including funding to develop a regional clean hydrogen hub in Washington state. Four such national hubs were authorized in 2021’s federal infrastructure bill. SB5910 also includes provisions authorizing public and municipal utility districts to produce, use, sell, and distribute green electrolytic hydrogen (hydrogen produced through electrolysis, rather than a conversion process from a fossil fuel feedstock); and adding the production of green electrolytic hydrogen to a number of existing tax exemptions.
- Connecticut’s 2040 Carbon-Free Electric Legislation: In April, Connecticut lawmakers voted to officially set a target of 2040 for having a carbon-free electricity supply. The legislation, which codifies an executive order issued in 2019, would make Connecticut the 11th state to set such an objective. At the time of this writing, the bill is pending the Governor’s signature.
- New Hampshire Adopts Time-of-Use Rates for EVs, Lowers Demand Charges: In response to 2018’s SB 575, New Hampshire’s Public Utility Commission issued an April order adopting time of use (TOU) rates for separately metered EV supply equipment, while reducing associated demand charges by 50%. The Commission found that time-varying rates have the potential to limit system-related costs caused by both residential and commercial EV charging by sending price signals to encourage charging during times when system capacity is abundant and energy costs are low. The Commission further found that a 50% demand charge reduction along with the proposed TOU rates strikes an appropriate balance between the objective of removing unnecessary barriers to EV deployment, and the need to limit potential cross subsidization by imposing costs on those customers causing the costs.
- States Advance Appliance Efficiency Standards: In the first months of 2022, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington State have each passed appliance and equipment performance standards, which will require specific products that are not federally regulated to meet minimum energy and water efficiency requirements.
- Guarini Reports on Building Energy Performance Standards: Two recent reports from the Guarini Center on the Environment, Energy, and Land Use highlight options in the design of Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS), an emerging legislative tool to combat emissions from the existing building stock. One report, Building Better Building Performance Standards, offers recommendations regarding the choice of metrics. Its recommendations reflect the findings of a large-scale study on the predicted impacts of New York City’s landmark BEPS, Local Law 97 of 2019 (LL97). NYC’s BEPS sets GHG emissions as the relevant metric, as opposed to energy consumption. The report sounds caution that local governments and building owners have only limited control over emissions associated with electrical consumption as the electric grid decarbonizes. Therefore, standards set in this fashion may have unpredictable outcomes and compliance costs, as compared with simple energy efficiency metrics. The second report, Toward Tradeable Building Performance Standards, offers a qualified defense of emissions trading programs in general, and suggests that tradeable credits in Building Energy Performance Standard programs could help cities effectively reduce GHG emissions. It further suggests that, if carefully designed, trading could affirmatively advance environmental justice goals by increasing the level of investment in environmental justice communities and reducing air pollution in these areas.
- Report on Food Waste in the 2023 Farm Bill: In April, NRDC, ReFED, WWF, and Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic published Opportunities to Reduce Food Waste in the 2023 Farm Bill. This report details how Congress can take action to reduce food waste and offers specific recommendations of provisions to include in the 2023 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill authorizes roughly $500 billion over five years in expenditures across the entire food system, and the upcoming Farm Bill is poised to use a portion of this funding to build upon successful waste reduction pilot programs launched in 2018. This report breaks food waste recommendations into four categories, based on whether they are intended to prevent food waste, increase food recovery, recycle food scraps through composting or anaerobic digestion, or coordinate food waste reduction efforts.
- Maryland Resiliency Hub Legislation: In April, Maryland adopted SB256 to provide grants for microgrid and community solar projects at resiliency hubs serving low-income and moderate-income households during extended grid outages. Per the legislation, the Maryland Energy Administration will award grants to microgrid projects that use a community solar energy generating system, provide more than 30% of the system’s kilowatt output to low-income and moderate-income subscribers, and develop and operate a residency hub for at least five years.
- New York’s Electric School Bus Mandate: New York’s 2022 state budget bill, S08006, requires all new school bus purchases to be zero-emission by 2027, and that all school buses in operation are electric by 2035.
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This update highlights and summarizes recent additions to the Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization (LPDD) website, which houses actual and model laws addressing the causes of climate change in the United States.
The Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization Model Law Project (LPDD-MLP) is a pro bono effort to draft model laws for use by legislators at the federal, state and local levels to support their efforts to achieve deep reductions in fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. The project is based on recommendations from the groundbreaking book Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States (Michael Gerrard and John C. Dernbach, eds., 2019). The work is supported by Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and Widener University Commonwealth Law School’s Environmental Law and Sustainability Center. Dozens of law firms and individual lawyers are contributing to this pro-bono effort as drafters, peer reviewers or in reaching out to policymakers.
Our website, LPDD.org, contains over 50 model laws that are a starting place for discussion and collaboration among elected officials, non-profit groups, and the private sector for enabling the U.S. to address climate change by reducing U.S. GHG emissions to zero by 2050 or earlier. The site includes several Top 10 lists for some of the key categories, like electric vehicles, PUC’s, buildings and other topics as a short-hand introduction. In addition, the site references hundreds of other actions that states and other governmental bodies have taken to move towards decarbonization more rapidly. By providing policymakers the tools to achieve deep decarbonization, the Project will help achieve a restructuring of the energy economy, thus alleviating the worst effects of climate change, which are disproportionately suffered by marginalized communities, while providing such positive benefits as economic security, social equity, and environmental justice (EJ).
Please contact us to talk about getting involved in drafting and peer reviewing legislation, to provide suggestions and feedback on the drafts and to talk about how we can help you support your climate change efforts.