We just celebrated a momentous Earth Day but, before I tell you why, I have to ask: Why do we have an entire Fashion Week, but only one day dedicated to our beautiful blue planet? Seriously, even sharks get their own week every summer. Shouldn’t it really be Earth Week? Earth Month? Or Earth Year?
I’m holding out for the Earth Decade, because that’s close to how much time we have to make the changes that will keep us on track for a best-case climate change scenario. And this particular week of Earth Decade was a good one. Two very different states adopted laws that set ambitious goals for replacing fossil fuels with clean energy sources.
In Nevada, Governor Steve Sisolak signed S.B. 358 into law on Earth Day. The bill — which passed the state legislature unanimously — yes, unanimously — will increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030 with a goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. That’s a big deal for a state that, despite having more solar energy potential than any other in the country, depended heavily on coal just a decade ago. Today only one coal plant still operates in Nevada, and its days are numbered.
Also on Earth Day (take that, Fashion Week), the Washington state Senate gave the final vote of approval to S.B. 5116, which will eliminate coal power by 2025 and transition the state to 100% clean energy by 2045. Governor Jay Inslee has stated he looks forward to signing the bill in short order. I don’t have space to list all the many reasons why this is both one of the smartest and most ambitious clean energy bills passed by any state, but you can get those details in this excellent piece by Vox’s David Roberts. Suffice to say, the authors of this bill thought long and hard about how to craft a policy that, as Roberts put it, would be “a model of cutting-edge climate policy.”
Nevada and Washington now join California, New Mexico, and Hawaii on the growing list of states that have committed to 100% clean energy. Add in Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and 120 cities and towns (including Chicago; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Denver; Kansas City, Missouri; Minneapolis; Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City; San Diego; San Jose; San Francisco; and St. Louis). Sum up all of this progress, and we’re talking about almost 70 million people who live in places that have committed to 100 percent clean energy. Put another way, that’s almost 20% of the U.S. population. And more states (and cities) are sure to follow soon.
If you’re one of the roughly four out of five people living somewhere that hasn’t yet committed to 100% clean energy, what are you waiting for? Join our movement! Is there a better way to kick off Earth Decade? After all, sharks and fashionistas need a stable climate too.