Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Guv Going Green With the National Climate Registry

[Green Vibes] Gov. Huntsman back in May of 2007 happily signed onto a 30+ state green coalition called the Climate Registry. Now that the program has officially gotten started Huntsman has announced five Utah companies (including Kennecott) and two state agencies will be taking part in the great, green experiment.

With over 30 states participating, the idea will be to have a registry to track greenhouse gas emissions, and create a standard for the industry to follow and self regulate themselves on their GHG emissions.

The idea sounds enviro-riffic to me!
But ... my inner contrarian points out there are some shortcomings. One thing is that "self-regulating" is not something any industry as a whole has really pinned down, least not of all when it comes to the environment. The other thing is a concern brought up by critic Myron Ebell, of an energy policy think tank who figured the whole move was symbolic. Ebell said in a May 2007 The Nation article Ebell was quoted as saying "you look at these states and a lot of them are just jumping up and down trying to attract a lot of attention."

Ebell imagines the registry as something meant to force the national congress into a more concerted action. But beyond symbolic feet-stamping the initiative might not do much for states working with each other on a regional level. Beyond joining a common list, the initiative can't do much to help states work out their energy issues. Which would've been nice here in Utah where frustrated activists are finding they don't have much say when it comes to stopping a Nevada power plant from being put on the UT/NV border.

But as a united effort the initiative wouldn't necessarily be impotent. If for example the standards became widespread, and were subject to independent verification then there would be a huge incentive for the national house to accept the registry's standards. With voluntary standards reported through the climate registry then used as a measuring stick for federal rewards to individual states and companies, based on their reported progress in reducing greenhouse emissions.

Which could be a great way to harmonize the collective green-vibes of all the states involved, of course, what to do with all those green intentions still will be the decision of the feds. The only problem there being is that an initiative like this one is one that any federal legislator would eat up with a spoon because they can stand behind in their home state and then secretly screw it over in Washington. Then they get all the green they could ask for; green thumbs up from activists back home, and plenty of green dead presidents from the energy lobbyists on the hill. (Eric S. Peterson)

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