Nine states bypass Bush on global warming

Doug Scott maintains the status quo in Illinois, reports the Chicago Tribune

Some states are not willing to wait for the federal government to take action on greenhouse gas emissions; they are going to do it themselves. Several northeastern states are about ready to declare environmental independence from the federal government.

Nine states are expected next month to announce a plan to put mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions from large power plants by 2009, and then to slash them by 10 percent by 2020.

It will be the first regional pact of its type, covering an area stretching from New Jersey to Maine, which generates about the same amount of emissions as Germany. Pennsylvania and Maryland have signed on as observers and may join it at a later time.

Across the continent, California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico and Arizona are considering similar agreements, according to The Guardian. The moves signal a clear rejection of the Bush administration’s inaction on global warming.

An outline of the northeastern states’ draft agreement already has been published by The New York Times. The chief provisions of the plan were confirmed by Dale Bryk, a lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who has been watching progress of the initiative. “They (the states) plan to have a memorandum of understanding by the end of September,” she said.

Bryk added: “It’s going to change the discussion at the federal level. It’s going to take the argument off the table [that] we can’t do this because it’s too expensive, there are too many obstacles.” Bryk said more and more states are eyeing this approach.

President George W. Bush refused to participate in the Kyoto protocol on climate change in 2001, and repeated his opposition at the G8 summit in Scotland in July. He contends such an agreement would ruin the U.S. economy.

The federal government signed a separate agreement in July with Australia, Japan, China, India and South Korea, which set no emissions targets but aims to persuade private industry to utilize “green” technologies and also to transfer that methodology to industrializing countries.

White House spokesman Michele St. Martin told The Guardian: “We believe it is a better approach than regulatory mandates that would increase already high energy bills for consumers, put people out of work, or achieve reductions simply by buying more energy from, and shifting emissions to, other states and other countries.”

Republicans are split over the issue of global warming. Two of the party’s most powerful governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and George Pataki of New York, have taken leading roles in the regional plans.

A spokesman for Pataki said the regional agreement remained in draft form, but added: “I know we’ve made a lot of progress, and we’re still working hard on it.”

The plan is called “The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.” It would allow emissions trading, that is, power stations in one state with below maximum emissions could sell the remainder to another state. That system is being used in Europe to cut greenhouse gases and was pioneered in this country to control sulphur dioxide emissions.

In a separate effort, the mayors of 130 cities across the country agreed earlier this year to meet the emissions cuts outlined by the Kyoto accord, no matter what Washington does or does not do.

Here in Illinois, the Aug. 29 issue of the Chicago Tribune reported that Attorney General Lisa Madigan sent a “scathing letter to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency,” now headed by former Rockford Mayor Doug Scott.

The article says Madigan’s letter “documents more than 7,600 pollution violations since 1999 at six [coal-fired] plants owned by Midwest Generation including two in Chicago and three in the suburbs.”

The federal EPA replied these bursts are “occasional,” “normal,” and “nothing to worry about,” according to the Tribune.

Vowing to watch the plants, but not lower their smog output, Scott told the paper, “We are not doing something that is way out of line.”

“The regulatory requirement is for continuous compliance, not compliance most of the time, and the sources have violated it many thousands of times,” said an Aug. 1 letter written to the EPA by Ann Alexander, Madigan’s environmental counsel, a copy of which found its way to the Tribune.

In November 2000 and March of 2001, Scott’s campaign funds received $1,000 and $500, respectively, from Edison International of Rosemead, Calif., which is the parent company of Midwest Generation.

The big winner in Illinois from contributions from Edison International and Midwest Generation is Illinois State Sen. Steven J. Rauschenberger (R-Elgin,22). He received $150 from Midwest Generation in August 2000 and $2,000 in September 2000. With 15 additional contributions, he received a total of $26,770.85 from Edison International. Rauschenberger serves on the Environment and Energy Committee in the state legislature and is a candidate for governor.

From the Aug 31-Sept. 6, 2005, issue

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