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Home CNN Red and blue states are competing for Biden’s climate funds. Here’s what they’re planning

Red and blue states are competing for Biden’s climate funds. Here’s what they’re planning

by Chanel Rowe
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Originally Published: 11 MAR 24 12:06 ET

Updated: 12 MAR 24 12:20 ET

By Ella Nilsen, CNN

(CNN) — Dozens of states are rolling out new climate plans to tackle planet-warming pollution in preparation to compete for billions of dollars of funding in President Joe Biden’s signature climate bill.

Forty-seven states and territories, including deeply red states like Alaska, Missouri, Montana, Utah and Alabama, are planning to install solar panels, replace aging oil-powered boilers with energy-efficient electric ones, install more electric vehicle charging stations, plant trees and implement farming practices to store carbon pollution in the soil.

States are hoping to pay for these upgrades using $4.6 billion in money from the Inflation Reduction Act, which the Environmental Protection Agency will roll out in the coming months.

Even as the Biden administration has moved aggressively to try to curb climate pollution, the approach from states has been piece-meal with just 33 states so far having their own climate action plans. That more than 10 are joining – and others are updating their plans for the first time in a decade – is significant, said Jennifer Macedonia, a deputy assistant administrator at the EPA.

“This is quite remarkable and new to have this breadth of coverage,” Macedonia told CNN. “This is quite unprecedented in terms of comprehensive climate action plans across states, and we also have metropolitan areas covering the country as well.”

Five states declined to compete for the federal climate funds: Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, South Dakota and Wyoming.

But those states have cities and metropolitan areas that raised their hands for the funding, including Jacksonville, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa in Florida; Cedar Rapids and Des Moines in Iowa; Louisville and Lexington in Kentucky; Rapid City in South Dakota; and Cheyenne in Wyoming.

Over 96% of the US population will be covered by a climate action plan, Macedonia said, which will both help states track their emissions and submit projects for funding.

There are a wide variety of projects states and cities want funding for.

Fargo, North Dakota, plans to upgrade most of its inefficient streetlights to LED bulbs, which would save money and cut pollution. The Utah Transit Authority is hoping to use the money to buy 15 electric buses for public transit in Salt Lake County, and to create a new voluntary electric school bus program for schools. And the state of Alabama wants to put more solar panels in rural areas to help power farm irrigation systems.

“We’re seeing electricity sector proposals to update the grid and deploy renewable energy, including in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Arizona,” Macedonia said. “For states that have significant agricultural sectors, we’re seeing proposals about sustainable soil management.”

But tension around the clean energy transition is still evident in some states’ plans.

West Virginia, a state that still relies almost entirely on coal for electricity, has sued the EPA several times to halt regulations that would target coal-fired power plants and heavy industry. The state did not commit to phasing out coal in its plan, but said it would invest in cleaner energy sources like nuclear and hydropower. It also said it intends to focus on preventing leaks of methane, a super-polluting greenhouse gas, from its abandoned coal mines.

Many of the states go into remarkable detail on their climate pollution and ways to cut it.

In the coming years, states that receive IRA money will be required to demonstrate how they’re using the funds to achieve the climate and energy goals they laid out in their plans.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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Solar farm

**This image is for use with this specific article only** A solar farm sits in Mona, Utah, on August 9, 2022.

Rick Bowmer/AP via CNN Newsource

11 Mar 24

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