Energy and Climate Change

America's response to the dual challenge of meeting its growing energy needs and responding to the threat of global climate change will define its ability to compete globally in the 21st century. America must holistically examine our existing electrical power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure, much of which still relies on antiqued 20th century technology.

We must today start the process of creating a national framework that ensures the stability of our future energy supply, the adequate generation of electrical power to meet demand, a robust infrastructure to deliver electricity, and the capacity to lead in fighting global climate change. A major part of this will be engaging the private sector corporations that play a dominant role in the U.S. energy sector. These companies provide 75 percent of net power generation and own almost 80 percent of transmission lines. By actively engaging both private and public sectors, we can systematically and comprehensively plan for the long-term health and efficiency of these critical systems.

Draft Recommendations:

  1. Issue a presidential executive order that would require a climate action plan from every federal agency and encourage similar plans at local levels of government. Set a carbon performance standard for every federally financed activity, whether at the federal, state or local level.
  2. Send stable market signals by putting a price on carbon - whether by a cap-and-trade program or a carbon tax. The federal government should also extend the federal tax credit on renewable energy to encourage private investment in renewable technologies.
  3. Fast-track and expand the federal government's research program in the Smart Grid to allow more sophisticated monitoring of the grid, distributed generation, and greater redundancy against grid failures.
  4. Invest in research and development of clean coal technologies that have private sector backing and participation.

For more information of America 2050's Energy and Climate Change program, contact:

Petra Todorovich:

Recent Entries

What if there were a zero-cost technology that enabled continued and even increased U.S. coal utilization with a 90% reduction of associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? How would the U.S. economy change if implementation of this technology could offset billions of dollars in foreign oil purchases through domestic coal use and create thousands of jobs over the next 5 years? How would commodity markets change if this technology
produced sustainable bio-crude for use in existing petroleum refineries at less than $50/barrel and high quality vegetable protein and micronutrients for human, livestock, and aquaculture consumption for less than $500/ton?

A new America 2050 policy brief by Dan Fuller explores these questions and offers a road map toward commercializing profitable emissions mitigation technologies.
Download the policy brief.

In the past weeks the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have released drafts of the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act, proposing about $825 billion of federal spending on energy infrastructure and efficiency, science research and broadband, transportation infrastructure, education and school repair, health care and Medicaid, unemployment benefits, and tax cuts.

The draft bills propose many worthwhile infrastructure investments, particularly in the areas of energy transmission, efficiency, and building retrofits, but the amounts proposed for transportation infrastructure fall considerably short of what we had hoped for when President-elect Obama promised the "largest investment in infrastructure since the National Highway System."

EarlBluemauer_1.jpgJuly 15: Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a bill recently that addresses rising energy and transportation costs, and offers potential solutions to relieve the pressure off of the American public.  Titled, "H.R. 6495: Transportation and Housing Choices for Gas Price Relief Act of 2008", the proposed bipartisan legislation was referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform, Ways and Means, Financial Services and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.  By offering housing and transportation choices, Blumenauer and co-sponsors Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) aim to relieve the added burden of energy costs and gas prices that have tripled over the last decade. 

Specifically, the bill provides the following alternatives: 1) Increasing commuter choices by making public transit more accessible, encouraging transit-oriented development, and incentivizing car and van-pooling, bicycling and using public transit; 2) Helping transit agencies by providing fare subsidies, and funds for service improvements; 3) Assisting communities by increasing funding for Safe Routes to School programs which encourage walking and biking to and from schools and expand program to high schools; 4) Providing housing assistance to homeowners who chose to live near public transit, and provide increased funding for states to build more affordable housing near transit; and 5) Increasing federal role in local transportation management that encourages more efficient use of transportation assets, and increasing transportation fringe benefits to all federal employees.  

Click here to read the text of H.R. 6495


Residents of metropolitan regions emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions per person than people who live in non-metro areas, according to a report written by the Brookings Institution and co-released today by Regional Plan Association and America 2050.

The academic researchers also found that regions with a more-compact geographic footprint and rail transit offer a more energy and carbon efficient lifestyle than more sprawling, automobile-dependent areas. 

The 100 largest metros emit only 56 percent of the U.S. transportation and residential carbon emissions while housing 65 percent of the nation's population and producing 76 percent of the nation's economic output.

The New York metropolitan region, including New York City, Northern New Jersey, and Long Island, has the smallest per capita transportation emissions in the country but ranks higher in carbon emissions from its residential buildings. The report underscores the tremendous benefit to the environment of the New York region's extensive public transit network and the need to continue to invest in these systems as the region faces the projected growth of 3 million additional residents by the year 2030.

Read the Brookings report.

Read the carbon profiles for the top 100 metropolitan regions in the United States.

Read the press release.
NE_Planning_Retreat.jpg Baltimore - Planning directors and staff from northeast states gathered for a two-day retreat in Baltimore on February 27-28, 2008 for the 10th Annual Northeast State Planning Leadership Retreat.  Organized by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Regional Plan Association, the event featured a series of state best practices: 1) County and Municipal Coordination; 2) Urban Revitalization and Transit-Oriented Development; and 3) Open Space and Environmental Preservation.  Participants also considered the potential for regional partnerships to tackle issues at a larger scale.

To view presentations from the event, click below:

Reid Ewing, "Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change"

Harriet Tregoning, "Making the Land Use-Transportation-Clmiate Change Connection"

Gerrit Knaap and John Frece, "Maryland's Smart Growth Initiative"

Richard Hall, "Open Space and Environmental Preservation in Maryland"

David Kooris, "Response to Urban Revitalization & TOD Panel"

Rendell.JPGBaltimore - Regional Plan Association and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy convened more than one hundred civic and business leaders in "Charm City" on February 29th to develop an action agenda to address the economic, transportation, environmental and housing challenges facing the Northeast and the nation at the 2nd Northeast Climate and Competitiveness Summit.  The Greater Baltimore Committee, Select Greater Philadelphia, The Chesapeake Crescent Initiative, National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at University of Maryland and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability were co-sponsors of the event.  

The Summit featured keynotes from Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania (above) and Congressman Earl Blumenauer from Oregan (below).  Blumenauer spoke about the need for federal leadership in addressing national infrastructure challenges with 21st century solutions and discussed a specific proposal for creating a national infrastructure investment plan that would shape the federal role in transportation, water and energy infrastructure.  Rendell delivered the luncheon keynote and discussed the lack of transportation dollars and its  impact of our  failing infrastructure.  Rendell (right) is leading a parallel national infrastructure initiative with Gov. Schwarzenegger and Mayor Bloomberg called, "Build America's Future."  Other public officials who spoke included Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Maryland's Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and former Governor Parris Glendening.


The Summit's four roundtables - Northeast Corridor Mobility, Regional Landscapes and Climate Change, Local Government Forum on Climate Change, and Subprime Mortgage Crisis and Affordable Housing - were chaired by Jack Lettiere, Jack Lettiere Consulting, LLC and Former Commissioner of NJ DOT, Rob Pirani, Director of Environmental Programs at RPA, Armando Carbonell, Chairman, Department of Planning and Urban Form, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and Merilyn Rovira, Director of Housing and Community Development, Fannie Mae, respectively.

Nine Midwestern governors and the premier of Manitoba, Canada met November 16 to sign a regional greenhouse gas reduction accord, which will create a multi-sector cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases. This multi-state agreement joins similar efforts, such as the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the Northeast and the 5-state Western Climate Initiative Partnership that includes California, New Mexico, Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

In the absence of national leadership, these large regions (in the Northeast and Midwest they correspond with the geography of the megaregions) have set their own goals for greenhouse gas emissions and are in the process of developing cap-and-trade programs. Does the multi-state or megaregion framework lend itself to climate change leadership? The governors may be motivated by the positive peer pressure of their neighboring states and a similar set of energy and climate conditions born by their proximity that allow for setting comparable targets. In any case, we are encouraged by the leadership and collaboration of these groups of governors and hope it will set a precedent for collaboration on other pressing issues.

Some of these governors also produced a commercial sponsored by Environmental Defense urging congress to take action on the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill. View the commercial on YouTube above.

As part of PlaNYC 2030, the New York City Office of Emergency Management is sponsoring a design competition for post-disaster provisional housing in the case of a hurricane other large-scale disaster in New York. The competition is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and Architecture for Humanity-New York.

Registration opens on October 15 and submissions are due on December 14, 2007. From the website:

"What if New York City..." is a call for innovation and an opportunity for designers and policy-makers to collaborate on one of the biggest challenges facing densely settled urban areas after a disaster: how do we keep people safely and comfortably housed while reconstruction proceeds?

A jury of experts in the fields of architecture, design, urbanism, and government will choose ten entrants who will be awarded $10,000 each and technical support to develop their proposals into workable solutions. These solutions will provide support for New York's most vulnerable communities and be a precedent for dense urban areas all over the world.

For information about the competition, click here.