Western Governors Agree to Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski has announced that the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington will address climate change with a new western regional initiative that commits the states to set clear reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions and a market-based strategy to achieve those reductions.
The agreement, the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative, commits the states to identify within the next six months specific greenhouse emission reductions levels and, within the next 18 months, a market-based approach, such as a cap-and-trade system, for implementing those targets.
Governors from the four partner states commemorated the announcement in a Washington, DC, signing ceremony that took place at the same time as Governor Kulongoski’s remarks. The Oregon governor had been scheduled to join them at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, but was unable due to weather-related travel delays.
The new initiative builds on existing greenhouse gas reduction efforts in the individual states as well as two existing regional efforts.
Seven Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states are members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program initially covering carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the region.
Initiated in 2003 by then New York Governor George Pataki, seven states–Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont–are participating in the RGGI effort.
Legislation was signed in April 2006 that requires Maryland to become a full participant in the process by June 30, 2007.
Eight Midwestern states are working with the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium (LADCO) to develop a framework for a voluntary Midwest registry of greenhouse gas emissions. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin are participating.
The registry will provide the mechanism for greenhouse gas-emitting companies to track their emissions and reductions and will provide a validated list of greenhouse gas emission reduction credits available for possible trading.
Arizona and New Mexico launched the Southwest Climate Change Initiative in 2006.
Environmentalists support the Western governors’ effort. Some believe a strong effort on the part of the states is what it will take to get the federal government to set national limits for carbon dioxide emissions.