CHICAGO (May 13, 2009) – The Midwest took a giant step toward building a clean energy future for the region and the nation on Tuesday according to policy and legal experts from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Environmentalists, energy utilities, petroleum and manufacturing business representatives agreed to a set of recommendations for a clean energy and carbon pollution cap program to move national and regional global warming policy. The diverse group, pulled from coal and manufacturing-heavy Midwestern states, has hammered out an integrated proposal for the Midwest Governor’s Association to reduce global warming pollution and revitalize the regional economy through clean energy development.
“The drumbeat for national clean energy policy just got a lot louder,” said Henry Henderson Director of NRDC’s Midwest Program who was one of the State of Illinois’ representatives in the process. “We showed that diverse interests can come together to grapple with some of the nation’s toughest energy issues and come away with something that not only protects the environment, but creates jobs and reinvigorates our economy. We’ve done the heavy lifting, now its time for this to move forward in DC.”
The group was brought together by the Midwest Governors Association to advise on the formation of a regional Greenhouse Gas Accord the brought together representatives from manufacturing and utility industries with environmental groups to draft recommendations for a plan to deal with emissions in the region.
Governors from the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Kansas, joined by the Premier of Manitoba, signed the Greenhouse Gas Accord in November 15, 2007, an agreement to put a regional cap and trade policy in place by 2012. The advisory committee of appointees from each state has been meeting since the 2007 commitment. Marathon sessions in Minneapolis this week have resulted in the groundbreaking policy advice to the governors.
“Putting a cap on carbon pollution protects the health, safety, and security of everyone in the region. It harnesses market forces to clean our air, protect the climate, and revive our economy,” said Henderson, one of two NRDC staffers who helped to negotiate the accord. “And this agreement positions the Midwest to prosper from the clean energy economy rather than be penalized by it. Let’s keep our money in Middle America---by doing that we reinvigorate the rust belt manufacturing base, revive the region with new jobs, ensure energy security, and transform the Midwest with the resources that unlock the clean energy innovations we need in a clean energy economy.”
The Midwest Governors Greenhouse Gas Accord recommendations include:
- Target of 18-20% emissions reduction by 2020 from 2005 levels, with a 2% emissions bank to manage market risks;
- The agreement is economy-wide in scope and will include both transportation and home heating fuels immediately;
- Approximately half of pollution allowances will be auctioned off initially, the rest sold at a set fee. The system will move to a full auction format within set compliance periods;
- The agreement allows up to 20% of emissions to be offset through scientifically based and verified permanent measures such as forestation and environmentally sound agricultural practices.