States Take Charge on Clean Energy

Christie Johnson is the summer Customer Engagement Intern at Clean Currents. She is a rising junior in the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service with a concentration in Environment & Energy studies.

I was skeptical. Entering the briefing “State Clean Energy Initiatives and the Value of Federal-State Partnerships”, I had no preexisting knowledge of state sustainability efforts. As excited as I was to attend, I was prepared to be wholly underwhelmed. My expectations were completely surpassed.

Representatives from across the U.S.- literally from Alaska to Massachusetts- spoke about clean energy ventures in their states. From impressive solar statistics in California, Massachusetts and Connecticut to the prospect of offshore wind in Maryland and a long-time-coming hydroelectric dam in Alaska, it became clear to me that states are pursuing far more clean energy initiatives than I was aware.

The most striking insights for me, however, came at the culmination of the briefing in the closing remarks of Lewis Milford, Clean Energy States Alliance founder and President of the Clean Energy Group.

Milford argued that recent developments indicate that what was originally considered the “fad” of going green is becoming an economic development, state by state. Upwards of 20 states are investing serious money in green technology not merely because it is popular, but because it has become an economic staple. Entire industries have sprung up around sustainability, resulting in a serious boon for business and newly created jobs.

Milford continued by delineating that states are leading the drive for sustainable innovation. Milford utilized the example of Hurricane Sandy: As a result of the drastic damage caused by the storm, the politics surrounding green standards in the Northeast notably changed. Along with discussion of climate change, the irreparable damage caused by the storm was an undeniable loss.

President Milford’s statements really spoke to me in a manner I was not expecting. All too often at the national level, overwhelming political arguments take control regarding sustainability. States, however, engage on a more personal level to drive the clean energy charge. And with these interests in mind, they will continue to champion the green revolution.