I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Western Climate Initiative plan called a ‘significant advancement’
New Mexico and 10 other states and Canadian provinces have unveiled an ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next dozen years, regardless of what happens at the national level.
Environmental groups called the plan by the Western Climate Initiative “a significant advancement” in the effort to combat global warming. Industrial polluters were largely quiet on today’s announcement, having already voiced concern that the federal government — not a patchwork of states and Canadian provinces — should manage the effort.
Gov. Bill Richardson was one of the initial backers of the WCI when it formed in 2006. He lauded the announcement, which came as Congress has stalled on its own climate change effort.
“This bold plan for achieving emissions reductions shows that states and provinces are leading the way on responsible climate policy,” he said in a statement. “We realize, here in the West, that we cannot wait for the federal government to get off its hands, so we will have to serve as a model for the rest of the country and world.”
Eighteen months in the making, the plan recommends that the member states and provinces — New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, California, Oregon, Washington and Montana, along with British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec — start reporting greenhouse-gas emissions from the largest stationary polluters in 2011 and starting cutting emissions in 2012.
The program expands in 2015 to include transportation fuels and other fuels not covered in the first phase.
The goal is reduce regional greenhouse-gas emissions 15 percent below their 2005 levels by 2020. Emitters can either reduce their pollution or buy permits to make up the difference.
“The Western states have a lot to lose from global warming so it makes sense that the West would act big when it comes to solutions,” said Caitlin Cotter with Environment New Mexico. “Committing to a plan to limit global warming pollution will help move the West and the country as a whole away from our over-dependence on fossil fuels and spur the transition to a clean energy economy.“
There is still much work to do, however, Cotter said. Chief among them is how the WCI members will disburse the pollution allowances. Her group wants them sold to polluters and the revenue spent “in the public interest.”
Richardson said he will appoint a panel to make recommendations on how to implement the program in New Mexico.
The WCI program will be the most comprehensive carbon-reduction strategy designed to date, he said, covering nearly 90 percent of the region’s emissions. The members of WCI represent more than 20 percent of the U.S. economy and 70 percent of the Canadian economy.