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Several states enacted significant legislation in 2021 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the growth of clean energy.

NCSL Releases Annual Summary of State Legislative Energy Trends

By Aaron Ray | May 10, 2022 | State Legislatures News | Print

State legislatures are at the forefront of a transitioning energy economy—enacting comprehensive policies designed to modernize an aging electric grid, increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Although 2021 was characterized by the continuing global pandemic and its impacts on individuals and the economy, lawmakers across the country continued to address their states’ highest energy-related priorities. Legislatures considered more than 4,600 energy-related measures in 2021, covering a wide range of policies, with approximately 15% of the bills being enacted.

NCSL’s annual review of legislative energy trends provides an overview of the bills that characterized the 2021 sessions:

  • Several states enacted significant legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the growth of clean energy.
  • Lawmakers continued to consider how to address the impacts of the energy transition on disadvantaged communities and those that have relied on fossil fuel production.
  • In the area of transportation electrification, lawmakers enacted incentives to purchase vehicles and build out charging infrastructure and considered ways to address the projected long-term decline in transportation funding generated by fuel taxes.
  • Although the COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect every sector of society in 2021, legislative action related to the pandemic’s effects on the energy sector waned relative to 2020.

Thus far, the energy trends of 2021 have continued into 2022, with lawmakers in some cases reintroducing measures that failed in the last legislative session.

One question legislatures will face is how, if at all, to engage on issues that will be transformed by the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (HR 3684), signed into law on Nov. 15, 2021.

The bill includes a host of provisions that will affect the energy sector: $13 billion to improve the resiliency of the electricity grid; $7.5 billion for EV infrastructure; $6 billion to help maintain the country’s existing nuclear reactors; and a new preemption on state jurisdiction and eminent domain powers as they relate to siting electric transmission projects.

As federal agencies begin to implement these provisions, legislatures will work to ensure their states are well placed to facilitate and prioritize these investments.

Aaron Ray is associate director of NCSL’s Energy, Environment and Transportation Program.

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