Skip to Content

What the Fed Can Learn from California’s Energy Policy

The chair of the Air Resources Board has some advice for the new administration.
February 24, 2009

In 2006, the state of California passed landmark legislation aimed at limiting green-house gas emissions. Under the Bush administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected the state’s request to regulate vehicular emissions. Earlier this month, the Obama administration announced it would reconsider this ruling–most likely in order to reverse it.

Mary D. Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, will be responsible for implementing the state’s climate change legislation. In a speech at the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative annual Energy Symposium yesterday, Nichols had some advice for a new presidential administration with the will to act on climate change: follow California’s lead on energy efficiency because it’s been an economic boon for the state. Nichols mentioned a report by Next 10 that claims cutting energy usage over the past 30 years has created 1.5 million jobs in California. (Still, in a state characterized by suburban sprawl, carbon dioxide emissions are quite high, at 11 tons per capita per year.)

Nichols said the federal government has three things to learn from California’s success in curbing emissions and increasing efficiency. First, emissions policies must support a mixed bag of technologies and programs, from funding for public transportation to implementing cap and trade of carbon dioxide.

Second, Nichols strongly advocated that the fed let the states do much of the work. California and other states have been doing well, and the government should keep encouraging this while providing incentives to get other states going on clean-energy initiatives. “The states want to retain the authority to step in if the federal program doesn’t work,” she said.

Third, an important role for the federal government, Nichols says, will be to provide a central repository for emissions data. She points to the Clean Air Act as a successful state-federal partnership. “It’s not perfect, but it has worked effectively in a way that engages local and state governments.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

A view of clouds illuminated by sunlight
A view of clouds illuminated by sunlight

We can’t afford to stop solar geoengineering research

It is the wrong time to take this strategy for combating climate change off the table.

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

new GPT3 is a good student
new GPT3 is a good student

The new version of GPT-3 is much better behaved (and should be less toxic)

OpenAI has trained its flagship language model to follow instructions, making it spit out less unwanted text—but there's still a way to go.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.