Governors of 3 West Coast States
In the latest effort by states to move more aggressively than the federal government against global warming, the Democratic governors of California, Oregon and Washington are expected to announce Monday that they will work together to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions up and down the West Coast through moves such as buying more hybrid cars for state-government fleets.
Unlike moves already under way in some states, the Western initiative, at least initially, isn't proposing actual government caps on greenhouse-gas emissions. Already, California has passed a state law mandating cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions from automobiles -- a law that auto makers have said they plan to sue to overturn -- and several East Coast states are considering capping greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants. By contrast, the West Coast push to be announced Monday will seek a "public-private partnership" to combat global warming, said one California official familiar with the planning.
Many of the details of the West Coast initiative have yet to be worked out. And exactly how the three states will pay for it is unclear, particularly with California mired in a deep budget deficit. The announcement comes as California Gov. Gray Davis is fighting to survive a recall bid in a state where polls suggest large numbers of voters think global warming is a problem.
California's Gov. Davis, Washington Gov. Gary Locke, and Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski also are expected to signal a push for increased use of renewable energy and energy-efficient appliances in their states, according to several people familiar with the planning of the announcement. California already has passed a law mandating that 20% of the electricity produced by investor-owned utilities come from renewable rather than fossil-fuel sources by 2017. "Maybe we can get there faster," the California official familiar with the planning said.
In addition, the governors are expected to announce they want to encourage the use of nondiesel generators at shipping ports and at truck stops, so ships and trucks don't have to keep running their diesel engines while they are sitting idle, several people familiar with the plans said. Burning fuel produces carbon dioxide, believed to be one of the chief gases trapping heat like a greenhouse around the Earth. Transportation is a major source of greenhouse-gas emissions, particularly in California, where the vast majority of power plants are fueled by more-efficient natural gas instead of coal.
The governors are likely to advocate their new initiative as a retort to what they believe is insufficient action by the Bush administration on global warming, people familiar with the planning said. The Bush administration has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty that would force cuts in U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, as likely to cripple the nation's economy. Instead, the administration has proposed a voluntary move by U.S. industry to slow the growth of its greenhouse-gas emissions, a move generally supported by industry but criticized by environmentalists as too little. And last month, the administration announced it doesn't believe it has the legal authority to regulate greenhouse gases as air pollutants, saying Congress would need to change the nation's environmental laws to give the administration that authority.
The plan to buy more-efficient vehicles, including hybrid gasoline-and-electric cars, for the three states' fleets could amount to a significant increase in the market for hybrids, which now are sold in the U.S. only by Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. and amount to less than 0.5% of the total U.S. new-vehicle market.
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