The States vs. the Fed – who’s making the climate change rules

Fed up with the White House, all but 17 states are moving forward with their own emissions schemes

By Victoria Schlesinger

Courtesy the Pew Center on Global Climate Change (

In the West
States as far east as New Mexico and far north as the Canadian province British Columbia are partaking in the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), which aims to reduce its regional greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. A total of six states and two Canadian provinces are participating.

In February 2007, the governors of Arizona, New Mexico, California, Oregon, and Washington launched the new alliance and saw Utah, Montana, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba join since. Observers include Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Wyoming, Canadian provinces Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, and Mexican state Sonora.

Still early in its planning process, WCI has yet to determine how wide a net to cast when choosing which emitters to include. They will go beyond just power plants, and aim for an economy-wide approach. “What we’re doing is designing the Federal system” says WCI chair Janice Adair. “We will be done before any action is taken at the Federal level, and what we want is to present our design as something for them to consider.”

The WCI plans to have a framework for their market by this summer.

The Midwest
In the same month that the western states announced their alliance, Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle became chairman of the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) and made climate change a priority.

“He realized, like many other Midwest governors, the Midwest is an excellent region to produce new alternative energies and at the same time sequester carbon,” says Jesse Heier, director of Midwest Governor’s Association.

In November, under the direction of the MGA, six states and one Canadian province established the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, agreeing to design a cap-and-trade system that will eventually lower emissions 60-80 percent below current levels. Because they are such coal-dependent states, they’ve agreed the system will encompass other industries as well, although could offer no specifics on which.

With their first advisory group meeting next month, Heier says, “We’re still in the formative process of getting everybody on board and moving forward.”

Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Canadian Province of Manitoba signed the agreement, while Indiana, Ohio, and South Dakota are observers.

They intend to be up and trading by May 2010.

The South
With the exception of Florida and its new climate-savvy governor Charlie Crist, the south and southeastern states have not set goals for reducing their emissions, one of the first steps to organizing a regional greenhouse gas trading agreement.

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