Environment News Service (ENS)

Environment News Service (ENS)

Midwest Governors Pledge to Fight Climate Warming

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Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

Capping a two-day summit on climate change and energy security hosted by Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, 10 Midwestern leaders signed the Midwest Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord.

States signing the accord are Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as the observer states Indiana, Ohio and South Dakota, and the Canadian province of Manitoba, also an observer.

The accord will serve as a regional strategy to achieve energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Greenhouse gases are emitted by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.

Today's accord commits the states to set emissions reductions targets and timeframes and calls for the establishment of a regional cap-and-trade system.

'This is a momentous day in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,' said Governor Doyle, chair of the Midwestern Governors Association. 'Leaders from across the Midwest are charting a new energy direction for our citizens, our nation, and our world, creating high-paying jobs for our citizens and building a cleaner and safer world for generations to come.'

'Our strong manufacturing base and rich agricultural industries, along with the wealth of resources in our vast northern forests and our world-leading research universities, position the Midwest to become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy,' he said.

In Wisconsin, Governor Doyle created the Wisconsin Energy Independence Fund, a new effort to invest nearly $150 million over the next 10 years in the production and promotion of renewable energy.

Doyle declared that Wisconsin will get 25 percent of its electrical power and 25 percent of its transportation fuel from renewable resources by 2025.

As chair of the National Governor’s Association, Governor Pawlenty is leading the 'Securing a Clean Energy Future' initiative that seeks cleaner domestic fuels, advanced electricity generation, improved efficiency and accelerated energy research and development.

Additionally, North Dakota and Nebraska joined the other nine states in establishing an Energy Security and Climate Stewardship Platform to advance specific goals on energy efficiency, renewables, and biofuels.

The Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord builds on existing greenhouse gas reduction efforts in each state as well as existing regional efforts.

The new Midwest regional effort eventually will include more states, said Governor Doyle. Current emission levels in these states will require more aggressive efforts than in other regions, he said.

Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said the accord is a step away from a future based on 'dirty coal.'

'Today the Heartland went from being at the center of America’s global warming problem to a region eagerly taking bold, visionary action,' he said.

'The Midwest is currently the epicenter of the coal rush so it is particularly important that these Midwestern governors move to take aggressive action to reduce global warming pollution,' said Pope.

The Sierra Club leader praised the October decision of the Kansas government to deny the air quality permit for the two proposed 700-megawatt generators at the Sunflower Electric Power Corporation plant near Holcomb.

Announcing the decision, Rod Bremby, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said, 'I believe it would be irresponsible to ignore emerging information about the contribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to climate change and the potential harm to our environment and health if we do nothing.'

Pope said today, 'Kansas' recent decision to reject a future wedded to dirty coal sets a strong precedent that we very much hope will be followed by other states in the region. The Midwest stands to gain over 289,000 new manufacturing jobs if it makes a real commitment to renewable energy - a far better deal for the environment and the economy than anything on offer from Big Coal.'

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