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States' leadership cited in climate change concerns

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  • npat1
    Fw: [fuelcell-energy] ... States leadership cited in climate change concerns U. conference: Speaker says pressure on the federal government is coming from
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2006
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      Fw: [fuelcell-energy]
      ---------- Forwarded Message ----------
      States' leadership cited in climate change concerns
      U. conference: Speaker says pressure on the federal government is
      coming from outside the Beltway
      By Joe Baird
      The Salt Lake Tribune

      Contrary to popular perception, the United States is beginning to
      rise to the challenge posed by climate change.

      The catch is, the plans and policies to combat global warming are
      being created in statehouses and corporate board rooms - at least
      until the Bush administration and the Congress finally decide to jump
      into the game. And state and business actions will ultimately force
      them to do just that.

      That was one of the messages conveyed Friday at the Stegner
      Center's Global Climate Change conference held at the S.J. Quinney
      College of Law on the campus of the University of Utah.

      In the absence of any real leadership from Washington, governors
      and state legislatures have jumped in to fill the vacuum, Salt Lake
      City attorney James Holtkamp told a conference gathering of
      academics, lawyers, scientists and environmentalists.

      "There are few places on the planet where the federal government
      does . . . what the public would like it to do, and the sub-sovereign
      states step up to do it. In every state, to at least some extent,
      climate change is now being addressed," said Holtkamp, who manages
      the environmental compliance group for the firm of Holland & Hart.

      The acknowledged leader of the movement: California, which has
      been several steps ahead of everyone else for at least a decade. Now,
      with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calling for a series of
      reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the next five decades -
      and an accompanying directive to auto manufacturers to cut carbon
      dioxide emissions in a similar manner - the Golden State is poised
      once again to be hugely influential.

      "This is very important," Holtkamp said, "and it's a possible
      bellwether of what ends up happening nationally."

      The ripples, he noted, are already being felt. States as disparate as New Mexico, Oregon, Massachusetts and Illinois are implementing emissions-reduction programs. Nine Northeast states have created a regional initiative to curb greenhouse gases. Arizona and New Mexico are partnering here in the West. And still other states are ramping up with action plans, though Utah has not yet joined the game.

      The reduction programs can take many forms, including the trading
      of emissions credits, tax incentives and even leveraging market
      muscle to force out-of-state energy producers to deliver clean power -
      another recent emissions policy implemented by California.

      Sensing big changes on the horizon, Holtkamp says U.S. business
      is also beginning to rise to the global-warming challenge. In some
      cases, companies are attempting to position themselves for what's to
      come. Others are being prodded by their major shareholders. And still
      others are finding a more environmentally friendly approach to be
      more profitable.

      In some ways, such a broad-based approach will prove beneficial,
      because ultimately there is no one solution for slowing down climate

      "We will need many creative new policy proposals, because there's
      no silver bullet. No single approach will work everywhere in the
      world," said David Sandalow, director of the Brookings Institution's
      Environment and Energy Project.

      Noting that there is just one current piece of federal legislation tied to global warming - an emissions cap bill proposed by Democrat Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Republican Sen. John McCain - Sandalow, too, senses that forward progress on climate change will come from further down the food chain.

      "It's interesting that the governors of our two largest states, both Republican [Schwarzenegger and George Pataki of New York], are
      taking the most proactive approach to global warming. That tells you
      a lot about the politics of the issue," he said.

      But Sandalow says federal leadership may not be far off, noting
      the Senate's passage of a nonbinding resolution calling for
      addressing the climate change problem. It may simply be a matter of
      waiting out the Bush administration - the major roadblock to federal
      global warming initiatives.

      "There's a broadening of support for this issue," he said. The two-day conference concludes today.

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