While U.S. energy policy is still looking for a meaningful direction from Washington, individual states have stepped into the void to take the lead on this key policy issue. They had no other choice. The current leadership out in Washington seems to lack the will and the vision to come up with a set of directives that would guide our energy future. It's in dire need of bold initiatives and lasting solutions that the nation is waiting for.
Environment America, a federation of state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations, recently released a report that commended officials in several states for their policy initiatives to improve renewable energy programs, save energy and require increased efficiency in cars. Sierra Club and the National Audubon Society joined it in praising the governors' and state legislators' forward-looking efforts. At least politicians on the state level understand the responsibility to act on behalf of their own residents and ultimately the entire country.
Environment America's report looks at five different areas critical to clean energy policy; renewable electricity standards, utility energy efficiency programs, the Clean Cars Program, energy efficiency standards for appliances and building energy codes. Using these criteria it then gives states a rating based on their plans and achievements.
Nevada earned a "rising star" ranking, a third-tier placement, for its regulations that meet three of the policy requirements, namely renewable electricity sources, utility programs and appliance standards. To make it to the higher levels entails passing more biting energy efficiency laws on cars and building codes.
The top tier is called "gold star" and the states earning that designation were California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington. The "silver star" went to Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Pennsylvania and Vermont.