Saturday, June 10, 2023

Governors turn to budget to protect against climate change Nation World News

Sacramento, Calif. ( Associated Press) — With their state budgets full of cash, Democratic and Republican governors alike are spending some unexpected money on projects aimed at slowing climate change and guarding against its consequences from floods and wildfires to dirty air want.

Democratic governors such as California’s Gavin Newsom and Washington’s Jay Inslee have been outspoken about their plans to increase spending on climate-related projects, including expanding access to electric vehicles and creating more storage for clean energy like solar. Newsom called climate change one of five “existential threats” facing the country’s most populous state when he presented his proposed state budget last week.

In Republican-led states, governors want to protect communities from natural disasters and droughts, even as many of them would not link such spending to global warming.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey last week committed $1 billion to water infrastructure, as the western US ravaged by drought, dwindling water supplies for cities and farms. Idaho Gov. Brad Little, who acknowledged climate change’s role in worsening wildfires, proposed $150 million for five years of firefighting costs, as well as for new firefighters. In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster called on lawmakers to spend $300 million in federal money, among other things, to protect the state’s coastline against flooding, erosion and storm damage.

“I can’t think of a more prudent use of taxpayer money than to protect these ancient properties for future generations of South Carolinians,” he said while presenting his proposed state budget, which includes post-hurricane and other uses. to include $17 million. natural calamity.

Governors’ proposals are the first step in budget negotiations, and they must work with state lawmakers on the final details. Several governors will release their plans in the coming weeks, with some already telegraphing their priorities. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, used her state address to call for $500 million to be spent on offshore wind projects.

This year’s discussion on how to spend taxpayers’ money is not only seeing massive budget surpluses in many states, but the negative effects of changing weather patterns are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. As drought continued across much of the West, an unseasonal December wildfire raged in the Colorado neighborhood near Boulder. Deadly off-season tornadoes ravaged Kentucky, and several hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast. Late summer temperatures soared to blazing, record-breaking levels in the Pacific Northwest.

“The climate crisis is not an abstraction. It is something that I and every governor of the United States have to deal with, almost on a weekly basis,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said last week.

Meanwhile, Democratic President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion package of social and environmental initiatives is stalled in Congress, leaving the prospect of more federal funding to fight climate change uncertain. The states, mostly led by Democrats, played a large role in advancing climate policies during former Republican President Donald Trump’s time in office.

Most states are short of money because tax collections have exceeded expectations due to strong consumer spending and rising prices, leading to an increase in sales tax revenue. On top of that, states are taking in billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief and preparing for a major boost in federal infrastructure money after Congress passed a $1 trillion public works bill in November. Beyond rising climate spending, states are looking unexpectedly to reduce their reserves, cut taxes, boost funding for education, and increase affordable housing.

California is home to the most ambitious climate spending, with Newsom calling for $22 billion for various projects spread over the next five years. The bulk of this will go to transportation projects such as electrifying school buses and expanding vehicle charging stations in disadvantaged communities. He proposed another $2 billion for clean energy development and storage.

California-based companies that work to address climate change and develop green technologies may be eligible for tax credits. Through programs to build more housing in the Downtown Corridor and make communities more walkable, Newsom threaded its efforts to combat climate change into her budget proposal.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and legislative leaders promised increased wildfire-related investments, such as adding fire response equipment and training for firefighters, after the Boulder County wildfires last month. The Democratic governor has requested about $75 million for such efforts, and the Democratic-led Legislature has indicated it wants more.

Police is looking to spend $425 million on electrification of bus and truck fleets, aerial and ground monitoring of oil and gas emissions, and more.

“From extreme flooding to megafires, to never-ending ozone alerts, the long-term health of our state is on the line. … we have to do everything in our power to make sure this is not the new normal,” said Colorado Senate Majority Leader Steve Feinberg.

The New Mexico government, Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has asked the state legislature to fund the creation of a “climate change bureau,” with a 15-member staff and an initial budget of $2.5 million.

It will impose pollution standards for vehicles and push the state’s economy to a point where the same amount of carbon is being removed from the atmosphere as is being emitted. His administration has offered limited details on the proposal.

Even as they prioritize climate initiatives, many governors are balancing those plans with the need to support their state’s current economy as it moves away from its reliance on fossil fuels. In New Mexico, oil and natural gas production has reached an all-time high under the administration of Lujan Grisham. At least a quarter of the state’s general fund budget can be traced to income from the oil and natural gas industries – underwriting public education, health care and other services.

In some states, it is lawmakers who are driving climate spending. Democrats who control Maryland’s legislature are pushing for a climate change measure that would reduce methane emissions, modernize the electric grid and invest in green technology.

The package, subject to negotiation, would accelerate the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The current plan is to cut emissions to 40% of 2006 levels by 2030. Democrats’ new plan is to increase that emissions reduction to 60%.

They also want to set a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045, which means at least as much carbon as is being emitted is being removed from the atmosphere. Funding for climate programs could come from state budget surpluses of $4.6 billion and federal infrastructure funding.

Maryland Democrats have enough members to override any veto by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, although they have previously supported efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

State Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Democrat, said there are political merits to pursuing climate policy, especially in a state that is home to the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary. All lawmakers in the state of Maryland are up for re-election this year, as are nearly two-thirds of governors across the US.

“I think legislators want to be able to run on something, and people should be held accountable,” Pinsky said. “Do they support the environment and such bold action or not?”


Associated Press writer Jim Anderson in Denver; Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix; Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Washington; Michelle Liu in Columbia, South Carolina; Keith Riddler in Boise, Idaho; and Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland, contributed to this report.


Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
Latest news
Related news


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here