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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Governors of Illinois and New Jersey Call for Greenhouse Gas Reductions - 1990 Levels by 2020

The governors of both Illinois and New Jersey called for statewide greenhouse gas reduction targets yesterday. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich both issued new goals aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases within their states back to 1990 levels by 2020.

Governor Corzine also called for further reductions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey to 80% below 2006 levels by 2050. Governor Blagojevich issued a similar goal, calling for emissions levels 60% below 1990 levels by 2050 [I assume that in real terms, these targets are very close.]

"Today we have taken steps to preserve our planet for our children and grandchildren by adopting aggressive goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions," Governor Corzine said. "In the absence of leadership on the federal level the burden has now fallen upon state executives and legislatures to lead the way on this issue and I’m proud that New Jersey is helping to blaze that trail."

To reach the governor's goal, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will work with the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and other stakeholders to evaluate methods to meet and exceed the 2020 target reductions, according to a press release. The DEP Commissioner will make specific recommendations to meet the targets while taking into account the economic benefits and costs of implementing these recommendations. This evaluation will be done in conjunction with the state’s Energy Master Plan, which will incorporate the new greenhouse gas reduction goal.

The order calls on the DEP to develop a 1990 greenhouse gas emission inventory as well as a system for monitoring current greenhouse gas levels so that progress toward goals can be accurately tracked. DEP will report progress towards the target reductions no less than every two years and if necessary will recommend additional actions to reach the targets.

To further reduce emissions, the order calls for the Director of Energy Savings to develop targets and implementation strategies for reducing energy use by state facilities and vehicles fleets.

The administration will call on other states to join in its efforts and will work closely with the Legislature to pass legislation to support and strengthen the targets set out in the Executive Order. Senator Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union) are currently working on a bill to accomplish that goal.

As a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative effort of Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the Corzine Administration will set up a cap and trade program to help limit carbon dioxide pollution from electric power plants.

Under this system power plants that exceed a predetermined level of carbon dioxide emissions will be required to pay a fee for each ton of carbon emitted over the limit. Governor Corzine will work with the Legislature to dedicate up to 100% of these funds to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy as well as other projects that benefit electric users. Senator Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) and Assemblyman John F. McKeon (D-Essex) are currently working on legislation to accomplish this goal.

In Illinois, similar efforts are underway to implement Governor Blagojevich's goal.

“The impact of global warming in Illinois and around the globe could be devastating, and we can’t wait for the federal government to act because scientists worldwide have warned that we must address climate change within the next decade to avoid serious and irreversible consequences,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “The international community recognizes that rising temperatures, melting glaciers, and unusual weather patterns are warning signs telling us that climate change is a reality. Now, despite inaction by President Bush, we must deal with it. By committing ourselves to action in Illinois, we can help minimize the effects of climate change and ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a healthy world full of opportunity."

According to a press release, the Illinois governor has charged his Climate Change Advisory Group with recommending strategies to meet these GHG reduction goals. The advisory group will meet over a six-month period to identify measures to cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gases.

“Illinois is stepping up to advance needed policy solutions to our global warming problems while the federal government has lagged behind,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “The Governor's Climate Change Advisory Group can help Illinois move to the forefront in developing more clean energy, cleaner cars and more energy efficient buildings that will help reduce global warming pollution. That provides benefits for our environment, our economy and future generations.”

The Illinois Climate Change Advisory Group will be chaired by Doug Scott, Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Vice Chairs include Michael Carrigan, Secretary/Treasurer, Illinois AFL-CIO; Art Gibson, Senior Vice President, Baxter Healthcare; and Howard Learner, Executive Director, Environmental Law and Policy Center of the Midwest. The World Resources Institute will facilitate the Advisory Group meetings and provide technical assistance.

Other members of the Advisory Group include: ADM, Ameren, BP America Inc., Caterpillar, Inc., Center for Energy and Economic Development, Citizen Action of Illinois, Citizens Utility Board, City of Chicago, Deere & Company, Dynegy, Environment Illinois, Faith in Place, Ford Motor Company, League of Women Voters of Illinois, Midwest Generation, Midwest Wind Energy, NICOR, Natural Resources Defense Council, Phoenix Architects, Inc., Regional Transportation Authority, Scates Farm, Sieben Energy Associates, Sierra Club - Illinois Chapter, State Farm Insurance, United Transportation Union, University of Illinois – Chicago, University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign, Village of Schaumburg, and Waste Management, Inc.

In 2006, the California Assembly passed, and the Governor signed into law, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 which is also intended to bring statewide emissions of greenhouse gases back down to 1990 levels by 2020—an estimated cut of 25%.

1 comment:

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