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VIDEO: What’s holding up state-level climate goals?

August 10, 2023

The Week in Sustainability – August 7–11

A permitting predicament

States like California and New York, heralded for their ambitious climate policies, might not meet their 2030 climate targets. Why? It’s not a lack of planning or policies but rather the tortuous pace of state permitting. 

Ambitious goals, bureaucratic hurdles

Both states have set ambitious targets, including plans to ban new natural gas lines and end the sale of combustion engine cars by 2030. But one question begs to be asked: How can states with such robust environmental intentions fall short in streamlining bureaucratic processes?

But the fact remains: Permitting is essential. It serves as a protective measure, ensuring that projects undergo environmental impact assessments, adhere to existing regulations, and factor in community concerns. In permitting, you can’t differentiate renewable energy projects from conventional fossil fuel-based ones. The challenge is balancing swift renewable energy development without compromising environmental standards.

A path forward?

Addressing the bottleneck of permit approval without neglecting environmental diligence is indeed challenging. Could specialized permitting teams be trained in renewable energy projects to ensure speed and compliance? Maybe. On the state level, there are initiatives aiming to reform this process. Governor Newsom’s proposed bill seeks to reduce litigation delays, streamline review processes, and make considerations for projects in areas with endangered species.

Striking the right balance

What about environmental justice and equity? It’s crucial that permitting reforms don’t disproportionately impact vulnerable communities. History has shown us the detrimental impacts of situating power plants and waste processing factories in low-income areas, so it’s critical to ensure that localities not only bear the burden but also reap the benefits of these projects.

The under appreciated aspect of the energy transition

While technology and R&D often get the majority of the limelight when it comes to the energy transition, practical implementation is just as important. Permitting might not be the most exciting topic, but it’s critical to achieving our decarbonization goals.

In a world racing against time to mitigate climate change impacts, these types of discussions shed light on the intricacies of the journey. As we strive for a more sustainable future, these tedious details could make all the difference.

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1. Inside Climate News, “California and New York Could Miss Their 2030 Climate Targets. Could Permitting Reform Help?,” Accessed August 10, 2023

2. JD Supra, “‘It just so happens that [Governor Newsom’s Sweeping New Plan to Accelerate Infrastructure Projects] is only mostly dead.’ – Miracle Max from The Princess Bride,” Accessed August 10, 2023

Editorial statement
At Sustain.Life, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information to help readers make informed decisions. Written by practitioners and experts, articles are grounded in research and experience-based practices. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by our team of sustainability professionals to ensure content is accurate and aligns with current industry standards. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.
Alyssa Rade
Alyssa Rade is the chief sustainability officer at Sustain.Life. She has over ten years of corporate sustainability experience and guides Sustain.Life’s platform features.
Sustain.Life Team
Sustain.Life’s teams of sustainability practitioners and experts often collaborate on articles, videos, and other content.
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