A regional approach to global warming: 5 Western states agree to cut greenhouse gases

Five Western states are taking big steps to cut emissions and turn back global warming. Last Monday, governors from New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington pledged to set a regional target for lower emissions and to create a carbon-trading system.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano noted that Western states are feeling the pinch of global warming, courtesy of the continuing drought and severe wildfire seasons. With the federal government continuing to stall on global warming, she added that it’s up to the states to step in and do the work of the federal government.

“In the absence of meaningful federal action, it is up to

the states to take action to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the country,” she said. “Western states are being particularly hard hit by the effects of climate change.”

Monday’s agreement directs each state to develop a target for reducing greenhouse gases in the next six months. During the next 18 months, each state must devise a market-based program, such as a load-based cap-and-trade program to reach the target.

Echoing Napolitano, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson commented, “With this agreement, states are once again taking the lead on combating global climate change, while

Washington, D.C., sits on its hands. This historic agreement signals our commitment to tackling the problem head-on at the regional level and building on efforts in our individual states.”

The Western Regional Climate Action Initiative builds on existing greenhouse gas-reduction efforts in the individual states as well as two existing regional efforts. In 2003, California, Oregon and Washington created the West Coast Global Warming Initiative, and in 2006, Arizona and New Mexico launched the Southwest Climate Change Initiative.

– Will Sands