Sustainability Climate Change

A look at state efforts to combat climate change in 2022, so far

Dismal headlines about the state of the planet may permeate news feeds, but actions taken by states thus far in 2022 illustrate widespread efforts to tackle climate change head one, albeit on smaller geographical scales.
wind farm
The Associated Press/Charlie Riedel

Story at a glance


  • Party politics have long hindered comprehensive federal action on climate change.

  • As the summer of 2022 kicks off with soaring temperatures across the country, the League of Conservation Voters looks back at legislative victories achieved by individual states this year.

  • In the following states, new bills, rules, and budgets have subtly incorporated climate action into agendas, marking incremental steps forward in the fight against climate change.

Amid extreme heat waves engulfing the nation and striking footage of floods deluging a national park, it’s difficult to ignore the palpable effects of climate change already altering everyday life. 

And although the failure of President Biden’s Build Back Better bill in the Senate may have signaled a roadblock for those calling for tougher federal action on climate change, a series of actions at the state level implemented or introduced in 2022 offer some hope, at least on the local front.

Here are what states have achieved thus far in 2022 after taking matters into their own hands, according to a compilation from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). 

Maryland

In Maryland, the state’s legislature passed the Climate Solutions Now Act which includes the nation’s strongest carbon pollution reduction goal by committing the state to net-zero emissions by 2045. By 2031, the state will need to cut emissions by 60 percent, marking the boldest near-term goal in the United States. 

The act also includes provisions allocating resources for low-income residents to prevent further climate-related harm to vulnerable communities and allows for school bus fleets to transition to electric buses. Maryland’s governor, Republican Larry Hogan, has said the act will go into effect without his signature. 

Connecticut

SB10, passed in April, made Connecticut the 14th state to commit to 100 percent clean energy via legislative action, while an additional bill, SB4 committed the state to California’s Advanced Trucks Rule. Together, the two bills include provisions that will commit the state to all electric school buses by 2035 with particular emphasis on driving adoption in low-income communities and communities of color. The state plans to transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2040. 

Colorado

New financial requirements for oil and gas companies were unanimously approved by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The requirements center on reducing risks of orphaned oil wells and will significantly increase bond amounts oil and gas producers must provide to cover cleanup costs. In addition, new fees will help raise money to fund plugging of abandoned wells. 

The state also passed Air Toxics Rules (HB22-1244) to monitor toxic air pollution with particular focus on the state’s vulnerable communities. Under these rules the state is required to establish health-based standards for certain pollutants. 

HB22-1193 was passed to provide funds supporting the “just transition” from coal to clean energy. 

New Mexico

In 2022, New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board adopted new ozone rules aimed at preventing methane emission leaks at oil and gas production facilities which account for the majority of the industry’s methane problem. The state also adopted a Clean Car Rule which will reduce emissions and smog-causing pollutants from new passenger cars and trucks beginning in 2026 by increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road. By 2050, the rule is estimated to eliminate approximately 130,000 tons of greenhouse gasses in the state. 

Maine 

Within Maine’s Climate Action Plan, the state now requires integrated grid planning which will serve as a foundation for a clean power sector. It will also be among the first in the nation to mandate assessment of grid plans’ environmental, equity and environmental justice impacts. LD 1959 says public input from experts and those outside utility companies should be incorporated into the plan.

New Jersey

A5160 updated appliance efficiency standards in the state and was passed with bipartisan support in the state’s legislature in January. The state’s plastic bag ban also recently went into effect, barring single-use plastic or paper bags in grocery stores and banning all styrofoam containers like those used for take-out food. 

New York

The New York state budget passed this year included funding to require all new school bus purchases to be zero-emission beginning in 2027. By 2035, all school buses will be zero-emission, while $500 million was also allotted for electric school buses and charging infrastructure specifically aimed at serving disadvantaged communities. 

Come November, the $4.2 billion New York Environmental Bond Act will be on voters’ ballots and seeks to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into offshore wind supply chains and clean water infrastructure. 

Washington

A $17 billion transportation package passed by the Washington state legislature will invest billions into new public transit and alternative transportation. The money will be invested over the next 16 years and allow all public transit riders under the age of 18 to ride for free. An ultra high-speed rail, hybrid-electric ferries and more investments in walking and biking infrastructure in underinvested communities are all included in the package. 


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Michigan 

Michigan passed a $4.7 billion budget bill aimed at cleaning up and protecting the state’s water and removing lead pipes used for drinking water. The investment will also support funding state and local parks in addition to repairing roads and bridges.

The state’s governor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, this year released a comprehensive climate plan with the aim of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. The plan seeks to retire all coal plants by 2030 and transition to 60 percent clean energy in the next decade and allocate 40 percent of the state’s budget to fund climate and water infrastructure initiatives targeting the state’s underserved communities. On the conservation front, the plan aims to protect 30 percent of the state’s land and water by 2030 and ramp up electric vehicle charging stations to support 2 million electric vehicles. 

California

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced a $9.5 billion addition to his climate budget as his state faces one of its largest budget surpluses in state history. Advocates are also pushing for the Clean Cars and Clean Air Act to appear on the state’s ballot in November. This would invest around $100 billion in new revenue over the next two decades to expand electric vehicle and zero-emission vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure. It would also help fight and prevent wildfires and be funded via a 1.75 percent increase on personal income taxes among residents making more than $2 million.

Virginia

The Virginia League of Conservation Voters worked to remove Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist and head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump, from consideration for the state’s highest environmental position, Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources. 

The group also worked to defend the Virginia Clean Economy Act  and its participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The initiative comprises 11 states working to cap and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector and is the first such regional group to do so in the United States. 

Florida 

Advocates in Florida pressured Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto HB 741 which would have ended net-metering, whereby utilities are required to pay customers who produce excess power from their rooftop solar panels, which is then re-distributed to non-solar customers. The defeat means solar will remain affordable in the Sunshine State, allowing more customers to install the panels on their roofs. 

Illinois

A coalition led by the Illinois Environmental Council successfully halted SB1104 which would have effectively undercut the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act by creating a task force of mostly fossil fuel industry representatives charged with offering recommendations on renewable energy reliability. The bill also would have duplicated reporting requirements and protocols put in place to ensure clean energy reliability. 

Wisconsin 

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers introduced his Clean Energy Plan marking “the strongest roadmap to climate justice and clean energy in Wisconsin history,”  according to memo authors. Under the plan, by 2050 all electricity consumed in the state would be 100 percent carbon free. It would also create an estimated 40,000 new jobs by 2030 by investing in clean energy and prioritizes the state’s Tribal Nations in the planning process. 

North Carolina 

In an executive order, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper detailed how the state plans to reach a 50 percent reduction in carbon emission by 2030 compared with 2005 levels and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest. In addition, under the plan, 50 percent of all new vehicle sales in the state must be zero-emission vehicles by 2030. Gov. Cooper also directed cabinet agencies to identify an environmental justice leader and consider environmental justice when implementing new actions on climate change.