Emissions Plan Challenges Bush Administration Policy of Inaction, Builds on States' Innovative Environmental and Technology Traditions
LOS ANGELES, CA (September 22, 2003) -- The governors of California, Oregon and Washington are announcing a major new pact to cut global warming pollution in the West Coast states. Building on strong traditions of environmental stewardship and innovative energy technologies, the agreement by Govs. Gray Davis (California), Ted Kulongoski (Oregon) and Gary Locke (Washington) is the first of its kind between the three states.
The deal is specifically intended to counter inaction by the Bush administration, which opposes any concrete measures to cut global warming pollution. It is the latest in a series of state efforts to address the health, economic and environmental risks of global warming, and adds to growing pressure for federal action, according to NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).
"We have the technology to beat global warming. All it takes is the political initiative to make it happen. The governors' plan demonstrates the marriage of business and political leadership required to unleash the solutions we need," said David G. Hawkins, Director of the NRDC Climate Center. "Today's agreement delivers real action to fix a real problem. These governors have raised the bar for political leaders everywhere."
President Bush, who has deep ties to the fossil fuel industry, has repeatedly rejected global warming pollution limits, preferring to let polluting companies police themselves. The administration rejected global warming standards in its power plant emissions plan, and last month the Environmental Protection Agency denied a legal petition to limit carbon dioxide pollution. And earlier this year, the White House sparked a controversy by forcing EPA to delete scientific findings on global warming from a major report.
But the political tide is shifting. Republican and Democratic governors of nine eastern states recently agreed to tackle global warming pollution in power plants from Maine to Delaware. And there is growing pressure in Congress, where the market-based global warming pollution bill by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) is due for a vote as early as October. Meanwhile, bi-partisan opponents of the White House power plant plan are sponsoring not one but two bills that include global warming emission limits.
"Trends in business, technology and environmental stewardship that start on the West Coast tend to sweep the rest of the nation," said K.C. Golden Policy Director of the Northwest-based Climate Solutions. "We're proving every day that a strong, vibrant economy powered by clean energy is the shape of things to come. Now our governors are taking it to the next level."
All three states are world leaders in energy efficient and clean energy technologies like wind and solar power, thanks to strong standards that foster innovation and investment by the private sector. Last year, California passed the world's first law requiring car companies to reduce global warming emissions from cars, trucks and SUVs. Today's deal will cut emissions further, and help reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Scientists say global warming is caused by heat-trapping emissions from cars, power plants and other sources, which form a heat-trapping blanket in Earth's atmosphere. Eight of the ten hottest years on record have been since 1990. Experts say hotter temperatures mean more smog, and more respiratory ailments like asthma and emphysema. Global warming also means higher cooling costs, more frequent water shortages and increased forest fire risk.
Leading companies including IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Nike and even the oil giant BP have acknowledged the business risks of ignoring global warming. Companies big and small have the power to fight the problem, but government leadership is necessary to make it happen on a large scale.
"Global warming is a real threat to our health, to our economy and to our environment. But it's a problem we can fix," said NRDC's Hawkins. "The answer is cleaner cars and cleaner, more efficient energy choices."
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 550,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Climate Solutions is a Northwest non-profit pioneering practical, economically attractive solutions to global warming. Its programs support the growth of a prosperous clean energy economy and healthier communities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia.