Oregon And Washington Governors Agree To New Controls On Carbon Emissions

Oct 28, 2013

The governors of Oregon and Washington agreed Monday to add new controls on carbon emissions as part of a West Coast strategy to address climate change.

Govs. John Kitzhaber of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington joined Gov. Jerry Brown of California and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark in announcing a shared set of goals for reducing carbon emissions in the region and responding to climate change.

The four leaders signed a new plan that says Oregon will set a price on carbon emissions and Washington will set binding limits while California and B.C. maintain their existing programs.

California has a cap and trade program that sets limits on carbon emissions and allows polluters to buy and sell emission credits. British Columbia has a carbon tax that charges polluters a fee for emissions. The new joint climate and energy plan is designed to align the policies of all four jurisdictions.

“This action plan represents the best of what Pacific Coast governments are already doing, and calls on each of us to do more—together to create jobs by leading in the clean energy economy, and to meet our moral obligation to future generations,” Inslee said in a prepared statement. “Each of the governments here is already taking bold steps on climate change; by joining forces, we will accomplish even more."

Inslee this month laid out a cap-and-trade strategy to reduce overall industrial carbon pollution in his state to limit the overall output of carbon dioxide and related pollution.

Together, the leaders of the four governments pledged to account for the costs of carbon pollution – by either putting a price or a cap on carbon emissions – and to link those programs together if possible. They agreed to adopt low-carbon fuel standards that would reduce carbon emissions from transportation and to align their their long-term plans for reducing in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Energy is the issue of our time – both globally and here in Oregon. And no single issue will have a greater impact on our state’s economy, environment and quality of life in the coming decade,” Kitzhaber said in remarks distributed to news media. "The central question is whether we will shape our energy future through intentional investment and development, or whether it will shape us. Working together across the West Coast jurisdictions we can build more resilient economies prepared to face the 21st century."

Kitzhaber has supported a number of approaches, including carbon pricing and green transportation strategies. His 10-year energy plan includes several suggestions for reducing carbon pollution but makes no mention of either a cap-and-trade approach or a carbon tax.

In their agreement, The Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, the four leaders propose expanding the use of zero-emission vehicles such as electric cars so that they make up 10 percent of new vehicle purchases by 2016. They agree to support high-speed rail and a streamlined permitting process for renewable energy projects, and to press for an international climate change agreement in 2015.

“California isn't waiting for the rest of the world before it takes action on climate change,” Brown said in his prepared comments.

The plan encourages investment in highly efficient "net-zero" buildings that would generate all their own energy. It also outlines the four leaders' support for federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, more ocean acidification research and an interconnected grid to share renewable electricity across the region.

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