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Lawmakers Strive to Derail Western States’ Global Warming Efforts

Lawmakers Strive to Derail Western States’ Global Warming Efforts

Given the less-than-triumphant conclusion of the Copenhagen Climate Talks and the dire economic conditions that are putting pressure on job creation and economic security, the struggle to curb greenhouse emissions is entering a new, even tougher period as climate change plunges in the public’s perception of importance.  As federal action toward a climate change bill is dicey, recent actions in three western U.S. states point to trouble at the local levels as well.

Arizona Rejects Regional Cap & Trade
Earlier this month the State of Arizona backed out of the Western Climate Initiative to curb greenhouse gas emissions through a regional cap and trade system.  The seven Western states and four Canadian provinces had planned to debut a regional cap and trade program in 2012. Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order that, while not withdrawing Arizona from the Initiative, made clear that the state will not engage in any emission control plan or program that might raise costs for consumers or businesses.

Utah House Urges EPA To Forget It
On February 9, the Utah House passed  a resolution calling on the EPA to “cease its carbon dioxide reduction policies, programs, and regulations until climate data and global warming science are substantiated.”  HJR12 questions global warming and asks the federal government not to enact a cap and trade system or CO2 regulation.  The resolution has no teeth unless it is passed by the Utah Senate, but it marks another rallying point for grandstanding lawmakers and the corporations who fund them.

California GOP & Business Seek To Suspend Landmark Emissions Law
Given the difficulty of getting action on global warming at the federal level, California, the world’s 8th largest economy, has stepped up. In 2006 California passed, and Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law, AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, an ambitious, comprehensive plan to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Now certain Republican lawmakers are circulating a ballot initiative that would suspend the law until the state unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent and stays there for a year. The rate currently stands at  over 12 percent. The business-friendly Wall Street Journal endorsed the initiative as an antidote to California’s “feel-good law”, stating: “The politicians and green lobbies told voters this energy tax would create jobs—the same fairy tale many in Washington are repeating today.” And yet, as the Los Angeles Times notes, a recent study “determined that the number of green companies surged 45% from 1995 to 2008, and total jobs in areas such as energy efficiency, renewable fuels and clean tech grew 36%. During the same period general employment in the state expanded just 13%.”

Despite the green jobs, surge, the sponsors of the AB32 moratorium are calling the measure the California Jobs Initiative.  The Los Angeles Times reports that the Governor opposes the effort, quoting spokesman Aaron McLear: “that it is deceptively written to protect big polluters and would keep us from staying No. 1 in the country in creating clean tech jobs.” The initiative’s sponsors have raised $600,000, or an estimated half of what is needed to gather the SS signatures by July necessary to get the initiative on the November ballot.

A coalition of businesses, the “AB32 Implementation Group,” whose mission is to see that “AB 32 emission reduction goals are achieved while maintaining the competitiveness of California businesses and protecting the interests of consumers and workers”, seems actually to be concerned with derailing the legislation in any way possible.  A report from California Watch states that 22 of the state’s100 largest carbon emitters are member of the  “Implementation Group” and that the group’s co-chair, Dorothy Rothrock,  openly advocated suspending the law in April 2008–before the wave of economic troubles that were to engulf the state.

In good times or bad, there will always be excuses for inaction. As laws and regulations that had seemed far off or theoretical are coming into being, it is unfortunate that businesses and politicians continue the dance of grandstanding, special interests, and short-term thinking that seem to characterize political decisions these days.  The consequences of failure to address greenhouse gas emissions will be grave: further delay on concerted action will aggravate the global situation and make effective measures even more difficult. Can the U.S.’s Western states take back the lead? 

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Photo: MistikaS via iStockphoto

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64 comments

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11:39PM PDT on Oct 6, 2013

Thank you.

11:39PM PDT on Oct 6, 2013

Thank you.

11:38PM PDT on Oct 6, 2013

Thank you.

11:54AM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

Thank you.

11:53AM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

Thank you.

6:27AM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

I voted. Thanks :)

3:11PM PDT on May 8, 2010

Increases and decreases in CO2 in our atmosphere occur all the time. CO2 rates in our atmosphere vary as temperatures increase and decrease at different times of the day. Deforestation increases the CO2 in the atmosphere, but can easily be overcome by planting more trees. So can CO2 output from cattle and industry. Plant life uses CO2 in photosynthesis and as CO2 increases in the atmosphere, plants thrive and produce more oxygen. Dry ice is frozen CO2, liquid CO2 is used in refrigeration and CO2 gas is used in things such as fire extinguishers. It is an inert compound and is necessary for life to survive on earth. There has been no reputable evidence that there has been any permanent increase in CO2 in our atmosphere. The increases measured by climate scientists have been later measured and had decreased to normal levels.
If you actually are still concerned about increasing CO2 levels, push for reforestation and start planting trees. The federal government already has a program that will pay you to plant trees. I know many farmers that have taken advantage of the program.

8:08AM PDT on May 8, 2010

GIVE ME A BREAK!! IF YOU THINK FOR A MINUTE THAT CO2 IS A DANGEROUS POLLUTANT PERHAPS WE SHOULD BEGIN TODAY AND STIFLE THOSE BELIEVERS OF THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS, JUST STOP BREATHING TODAY, BUT PLEASE BE SURE YOUVE PAID UNCLE SAM ACCORDINGLY. DONT FOREGET POOR AL GORE HE HAS A NEW HOME ON THE OCEAN FRONT, HE WANTED TO WITNESS FIRST HAND WHEN THE OCEANS RISE 20 FEET,AND IM SURE THAT WHEN YOU PAY YOURE PENNANCE FOR EXHALING AL WIKK BE THERE TOO. PEOPLE, GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF THE SAND PLEASE ATLEAST INVESTIGATE WHAT CO2 REALLY IS. IT IS YOU AND I, THIS IS AS MUCH A SCAM AS ALS NAFTA TREATY TO SHIP ALL OUR JOBS OVERSEAS AND TO MEXICO, NOW THE GLOBALISTS ARE AFTER THE REMAINING SPOILS

8:35AM PST on Mar 7, 2010

The polluters seem to think that we as a people will just stand by and do nothing while they plunder and rape the the earth. We must stand up to these corporations and elected and unelected officials and say enough is enough, we are as mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore. The crazy winter we had this year is part of the global warming warming effect and will continue to do so in the coming years. If we don't act now, we will go the way of the dinosaurs.

8:55PM PST on Mar 6, 2010

Gulu,
@You don't need more than 3 meals a day - so why grab more than you eat.

Reasonable people would agree with you. If all corporations were reasonable, they'd voluntarily reduce their pollution output to levels our planet can process. But since short-term money is almost always the most important issue considered, Cap and Trade seems a reasonable 1st step.

The companies that use the least amount of energy AND SELL the least amount of energy credits will win our business and the most tax incentives.

The other corporations that buy energy credits from other businesses are the ones we will villify and boycott.

We have to make loud noises against those who continue to poison our home. AND, we have to make loud noises FOR those who, for whatever reasons, are doing their part to clean it up.

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