Climate Change Report Gives States a Price Tag

While the debate rages on about how to protect Earth, the changing climate may threaten some states' economies.

The National Conference of State Legislatures and the Center for Integrative Environmental Research at the University of Maryland have worked together to develop State Economic and Environmental Costs of Climate Change reports.

The reports summarize the climatic changes affecting a range of states, the potential fiscal impact, and the affect of any future climate changes. The findings for Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and Ohio were released during an Energy Conference at the organization's Legislative Summit in New Orleans. Four additional state reports will be released in August.

"I am especially concerned about the potential adverse impacts that climate change is having on Colorado's water supplies and water quality," said Colorado Rep. Randy Fischer. "Legislators have no more important a responsibility than to plan and prepare wisely to address these impacts."

In Michigan, the levels in the Great Lakes have reportedly been dropping, which could affect the shipping industry by more than $142 million per year, according to the report. Nevada may see shrinking water supplies, which could cost the state billions of dollars due to population and development limits that may be required.

"State-focused information on the economic impacts of climate change is crucial to policymakers. Since many of the responses by policymakers will require resources, we need to be able to prioritize our plans so that the fiscal implications are minimized," said Sen. Tom Kean from New Jersey.

Taking the lead, states nationwide are implementing policies to address climate change and environmental sustainability. Six states enacted mandatory greenhouse gas reduction laws and 13 others set voluntary targets. Additionally, 26 states passed renewable energy portfolio standards and many are focusing on energy-efficiency policies as this is the most cost-effective approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The federal government is likely to enact climate legislation within the next few years. States that create energy policies now may be a step ahead when Congress passes its first greenhouse gas reduction law.

For a copy of the State Economic and Environmental Costs of Climate Change report, click here .

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