Five western governors sign agreement to reduce greenhouse gases News
Five western governors sign agreement to reduce greenhouse gases

[JURIST] The governors of five western US states signed an agreement Monday to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases [JURIST news archive], a cause of global warming [EPA climate change materials]. During the winter meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA) [official website], the governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington [JURIST news archives] signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative [agreement text], which calls for the states to set reduction goals within six months, devise a "market-based program" to reach those goals and track emissions through a regional registry. "In the absence of meaningful federal action, it is up to the states … to address climate change," Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) [official profile] said in a press release [text]. The market-based program could take the form of a cap-and-trade system, in which companies whose emissions exceed mandatory limits could buy credits from companies that produce less pollution. A regional cap and trade program would be a powerful first step toward developing a national program, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) [official profile], the only Republican among the five governors, said in an address to the NGA [press release]. Statements were also issued by Govs. Bill Richardson (D-NM), Ted Kulongoski (D-OR) and Christine Gregoire (D-WA) [press releases]. AP has more. Gannett News Service has additional coverage.

Monday's agreement is only the latest joint effort by the western states. Last year, Arizona and New Mexico formed the Southwest Climate Change Initiative [agreement text], and the governors of California, Oregon and Washington issued a joint statement [text] in 2003 calling for regional action to address global warming. Elsewhere in the country, several Northeastern states have created the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative [group website], to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants through a regional cap-and-trade program, and some Midwestern states signed on to the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium [group website], to establish a voluntary registry for companies to report their emissions-reduction efforts.

Efforts to establish national emissions limits have gained traction in Congress [New York Times report] since the Democrats became the majority party, with at least four major proposals emerging. President Bush opposes mandatory carbon dioxide (CO2) limits but has proposed reducing emissions through the use of alternative fuels [White House energy policy materials]. A coalition of businesses and environmental groups has called for federal legislation [JURIST report], including a cap-and-trade program, to limit emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. In September, California became the first US state to restrict greenhouse gas emissions [JURIST report] when Schwarzenegger signed a bill authorizing a state board to set emissions targets for various industries.

This report was prepared in partnership with the Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law.