Nine US States defy Bush and make own emissions pact

Nine northeastern US states are expected to announce the introduction of mandatory emissions control measures for industry, despite their President saying this sort of agreement would damage the US economy.

The agreement is expected next month and would see the states, stretching from New Jersey to Maine, cutting emissions from large power stations by 10% by 2020.

If it does go-ahead it would be the first of its kind in America and would set up a market-driven system to control carbon dioxide emissions from more than 600 facilities.

The agreement would include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. In addition, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, the Eastern Canadian Provinces and New Brunswick are observers in the process.

Three other states, California, Washington and Oregon are considering a similar regional agreement.

Under the proposal, emissions would be capped 150 million tons of CO2 per year and would be enforced starting in 2009. By 2015, states would be required to begin reducing emissions. Officials have said they hope to offset the potential increase in energy prices through subsidies and the development of new technology that would be funded through the sale of emissions credits.

Environmentalists said a regional plan like this could eventually lead to a national law. “We’re not going to solve the problem of global warming in the Northeastern states,” said Dale S. Bryk, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“But we’re showing that we have the American ingenuity to do this and we’re setting a precedent in terms of the design of the program.”

The arrangement will allow for emissions trading between the states. It is far less ambitious that even the Kyoto Protocol, but is considered a step in the right direction at least.

Although it will initially only apply to power stations, it could also be extended to large manufacturing plants in the future.

This is the second initiative whereby local and regional authorities have taken a more decisive stand on climate issues than the White House. In June this year an agreement by 10 US Mayors to cut emissions from their cities was passed and has now been signed by 176 Mayors representing nearly 40 million people.

David Hopkins

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