Carbon Cap for the Midwest: despite the pundits, Midwest now leading the way to clean energy

While all eyes are on DC to bring the nation closer to a clean energy future, there was big news this week in Minneapolis.

That is where the better part of two years of negotiation culminated in a groundbreaking agreement to reduce global warming pollution and revitalize the regional economy through clean energy development. I was honored to be among the advisory group appointed by governors from the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Kansas (and joined by the Premier of Manitoba) who have been working on a regional plan together to cap carbon pollution and advance clean energy to be in place by 2012. 

Admittedly, six states is just a start. But don't let the regional scope of the plan distract you. When you consider that the commentators and talking heads watching the DC debates repeatedly refer to the Midwest as a road block to national action to cap carbon emissions, what happened in Minneapolis is critically important. A group of environmentalists, energy utilities, petroleum and manufacturing business representatives (all appointed by the governors) managed to work through what are the hardest and most contentious issues in our nation's energy policy, and emerged with an integrated system that is actually more rigorous on carbon and clean energy investments than the one being debated in our nation's capital. It sends an undeniable signal to our representatives in Washington that "it can be done" and the Heartland is a leading part of the solution.

More importantly, it can be done in a way that protects the health, safety, economy, and security of the nation. After all, that's what we've negotiated for the region.

I am waiting for news that Governor Quinn has signed on to the recommendations in Illinois. And I hope that the rest of the governors follow suit in time to head to DC to make it clear that the Midwest is opening the road to a reinvigorated economy and clean energy future.