Western Climate Initiative Goes Bust!

The Western Climate Initiative partners meeting is being held March 3rd in Vancouver BC, but there won’t be much cheering in the stands after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order officially pulling Arizona’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to reduce emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 as part of the cap-and-trade approach the Western States and Provinces agreed to in 2008. [1]

Back then the Federal Government under President Bush resisted action on cap and trade and WCI was seen as a politically correct strategy for encouraging collaborative action along the lines the Northeastern States had taken earlier in forming RGGI—the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  Fast forward to the November 2008 election of Barack Obama and the Feds shifted their strategy and Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade legislation began rolling as a prelude to the main event which was to be a new global treaty at Copenhagen’s COP15-fest.

We’re Behind You California—Way Behind You!

That is the headline to the story of the WCI today,  but despite having ten remaining WCI members only the Golden State—now out of gold—is the only one of the WGI partners actually moving forward.  In November 2009, the California Air Resources Board issued a preliminary draft regulation for its AB32 Global Warming Solutions Act implementation. [2]

The recession has had a sobering effect on all these partners and was the official reason for Governor Brewer’s executive order in Arizona.  She said the cap and trade program would “devastate Arizona’s economy” and instead the state would use nuclear, solar and other renewable energy sources. But that was true before the recession except Janet Napolitano was Governor then moved on to be Homeland Security Secretary to President Obama.

Indeed, there was an embarrassing dust up recently when one Arizona legislator filed a bill to reclassify energy from the Palo Verde nuclear plant toward meeting the State’s renewable portfolio standard goals thus effectively ending the program by achieving its goal.  While the bill was later withdrawn after howls of protest by the solar lobby the point had been made.

The problem for California is that it is now committed to implement AB32 by law.  But the cold reality of achieving the policy objectives of AB32 will require natural gas prices of $13.87 per mmbtu and a carbon tax of $100 per tonne in order for the cap and trade program envisioned to be effective in changing behaviors enough to actually achieve the goals according to the CPUC and the CEC—the state agencies responsible for implementing it.   And we’ll need to invest billions in new transmission lines to bring all that clean and renewable energy from Arizona to the Golden State—only one problem, we don’t have any gold to pay for it.


[1] http://www.azgovernor.gov/dms/upload/EO_2010_06.pdf

[2] http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/capandtrade.htm

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