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KUNC is among the founding partners of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

States, Utilities Step Up As U.S. Leaves Paris Climate Accord

Despite federal withdrawal from the Paris deal, Nevada is pursuing its own ambitious climate policy, based in part on the state's already robust solar industry.
Despite federal withdrawal from the Paris deal, Nevada is pursuing its own ambitious climate policy, based in part on the state's already robust solar industry.

The U.S. is now officially  out of the Paris climate accord

Climate policy is mixed around the Mountain West, but many states are seeing action and a transition to renewable energy regardless of federal leadership. 

Last week, Nevada voters  approved a renewable energy mandate that requires state utilities to operate on 50% renewables by 2030, affirming one of the most ambitious state-level emissions targets in the country. A statewide initiative launched this year aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Nevada also has one of the country’s most promising solar industries.  

“Regardless of where the U.S. goes with respect to the Paris accord, there [are] economic drivers with respect to climate action that just have a tremendous amount of momentum,” said Kristen Averyt, Nevada’s climate policy coordinator. 

According to a review by several environmental groups, Nevada will need to make significant strides to achieve its lofty goals.

Idaho and Wyoming have no  renewable portfolio standards, but change is still afoot. 

“What is interesting in the case of Idaho is that we still see two of the major utilities have made 100 percent clean power commitments,” said Thomas Ptak, a geography professor with the University of Idaho. He’s talking about  Idaho Power and  Avista

Despite no state-level action, Ptak said that renewable transitions in Idaho are taking place at a regional and local level. The state’s most populous city  is charting its own course on climate.  

Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico are part of the  U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of governors working to advance the goals of the Paris agreement even without federal engagement.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2020 KUNR Public Radio. To see more, visit KUNR Public Radio.