Climate Task Force

Cap and Divide: Where Have All the Emissions Reductions Gone?

On Friday, as the world converged in Vancouver in the name of sportsmanship, several Western states and Canadian provinces found themselves increasingly divided on the issue of climate change.

The impetus was Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s announcement last week that her state would be leaving the Western Climate Initiative, rescinding its pledge to participate in the regional cap-and-trade program. Friday, the Utah state legislature followed suit — passing a resolution asking Governor Gary Herbert to do the same. The justification? Concerns over the program’s cost given the current state of the economy

These recent defections, coupled with faltering momentum in the nation’s capital signal what many predict will be a domino effect against scattered climate initiatives at the state level. Wall Street Journal reporter Cassandra Sweet paints the grim picture:

Of the 11 U.S. states and Canadian provinces that are members of the WCI program, only four have adopted legislation that would allow them to participate in the cap-trade-market: California, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

But the outlook for other U.S. states joining the market is uncertain. Although Oregon, Washington, Montana and New Mexico are members of the WCI market, they haven’t adopted cap-and-trade legislation that would allow them to participate in it.

The loss of momentum in states once supportive of action on climate change demonstrates the need for renewed leadership on emissions policy at the national level. Thankfully, as CTF has discussed before, there is a Green Plan B afoot.

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