The Public Policy

When Governors Associate

Global warm-mongers march on the South -- and the Southern Governors Association has given them a green light.

By 8.19.09

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It's the last frontier among the states for global warm-mongers to conquer: Dixie.

While everyone else pays attention to the American Clean Energy and Security Act (also known as the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill), the states continue to move along trying to enact their own fossil fuel-limiting schemes. According to a report in late June in Carbon Control News (subscription only), states "vow to press on with climate change plans to pressure [the] feds":

State officials told reporters that they welcome the creation of a federal economy-wide cap-and-trade program that preempts their state and regional initiatives in the House bill, saying the explicit purpose of the state initiatives was always to lay the groundwork for a federal program. "We created our program always in anticipation of a strong federal program," (Commissioner) Laurie Burt of Massachusetts (Department of Environmental Protection) told reporters at a side briefing at the Pew climate conference.

But state officials say that just in case climate legislation does not get signed into law this year, they have begun meeting to create a strong North American market to cap and trade [greenhouse gas] allowances based on the successful platform of RGGI (the Northeastern states' Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) and efforts in California. The Western Climate Initiative, the Midwest GHG reduction accord and Ontario is also on board, though their programs are further behind RGGI, which has already started auctioning allowances.

All these state collaborations have been driven and funded by environmental nonprofits and their multi-million dollar foundations, using the governors as their water carriers. The last gaping hole for them is the South, and they hope to topple that last domino this weekend at the annual meeting of the Southern Governors Association.

With the recession and some Southern states hitting double digits in unemployment, you might think the governors would want to put their heads together for economic development strategies, or to discuss how to utilize stimulus funds to help increase jobs. But instead it's almost all climate, all the time.

Their cap-and-trade agenda is revealed in the titles of this week's SGA topics: "Climate Change, Energy and National Security"; "Evaluating State-based Climate and Energy Policies"; "Developing a Smart Electricity Grid"; and "Balancing Energy Demands with Climate Goals." Even SGA's singular transportation panel will discuss "improved fuel efficiency and green corridors," while the only non-climate session will address the hot-button health care issue.

The seemingly omnipresent Center for Climate Strategies will anchor the state climate talk. This group denies its global warming activism but has convinced nearly half the states' governors into hiring them to promote their state-level greenhouse gas reduction ideas. Every time a state chief executive orders into existence a blue ribbon panel on climate, CCS gets about a half million dollars from a number of environmentally active foundations -- primarily the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. So CCS asks states (usually the governors) to endorse the extreme carbon control plans of their activist backers and, if possible, enact them.

This strategy was expressed by CCS president Tom Peterson, who in an interview posted on Google Video said, "We've been supporting the [states] in the formation of comprehensive climate action plans and all the policies that are involved in reducing (GHG) emissions from all the different economic sectors in the economy, and ultimately (hope it will) lead to national policies and we hope even international agreements that can lead the nation forward in terms of addressing the (global warming) problem."

The belief is that President Bush did not move fast enough for the environoiacs on global warming, so groups like CCS moved to create pressure from lower levels of government. Hoping to patch together a mishmash of carbon cap policies in different states and across regions of the country, the federal government would then be forced to act so large utilities and industrial emitters could have uniform rules to follow. Out of chaos would come carbon control consistency.

CCS, Rockefeller Brothers, and other multi-millionaire funders like the Energy Foundation have nearly reached their goal, with a Southern regional agreement excepted. However, a number of SGA governors (not legislatures) have adopted climate plans: Democrats Mike Beebe in Arkansas, Martin O'Malley in Maryland, and Beverly Perdue's predecessor, Mike Easley, in North Carolina. Also on board are Republicans Charlie Crist in Florida and Mark Sanford in South Carolina. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, created a climate commission without using CCS.

Altogether that's only six of the 16 total governors in SGA, but that doesn't daunt these environmental activists. It only took seven of 19 members of the Western Governors Association to patch together the Western Climate Initiative, and SGA members so inclined will executive order their states into an agreement, much like Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire did in overruling her legislature. "I wanted cap-and-trade," she told the Los Angeles Times. "I didn't get it."

It may not be a tall order for the alarmists to convince a few more SGA governors to support a cap-and-trade plan. Five of the 11 remaining who haven't developed formal climate goals share the political party, if not the agenda, of our carbon-controlling president.

And it's not a good sign that SGA allowed the alarmists to so completely set their itinerary for this weekend. They have an opportunity to unload all the ammunition they have without concern for being rebutted. Maybe conservatives such as Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi or Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana will have something to say about it, but more likely their voices will be drowned out.

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About the Author

Paul Chesser publishes CarolinaPlottHound.com, a news aggregator for North Carolina, and is a contributor of articles, research and investigative reports for both national and state-level free-market think tanks.