MILWAUKEE – The region’s governors signed an agreement Thursday to work together to reduce energy consumption, focus more on renewable energy and limit greenhouse gas emissions.
The noon signing was part of a regional summit on energy and climate change hosted by the Midwestern Governors Association.
The office of Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, chairman of the 12-member group, said the Midwest can lead the nation in renewable energy.
“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 a statement released by his office.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, co-host of the summit, said the agreement could serve as a national model.
“We’re a little bit smaller and more nimble than the federal government,” Pawlenty said.
The plan calls for a reduction in carbon emissions of between 60 percent and 80 percent. The group will work together to determine limits for each state, Canter said.
In the next 12 months, the group will establish emission reduction targets and a plan for the system. It is expected to be implemented within 30 months. It will include caps for businesses, which would be allowed to trade emissions credits, Doyle’s spokesman Matt Canter said.
Pawlenty said he hopes the cap-and-trade system will focus on a handful of sectors such as transportation and petrochemicals to keep things simple.
Indiana, Ohio and South Dakota will be considered observers in the regional trade system, with the possibility of participating in the future, Canter said.
The deal also calls for greater production of biofuels and finding ways to store carbon dioxide so it does not go into the atmosphere.
“If we continue on with the status quo, we are in serious, serious danger in terms of quality of life,” said Gary Doer, premier of Manitoba, Canada.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, in Milwaukee to sign the agreement, said it was imperative that the Midwest take the steps the plan entails. On Wednesday, she created a 35-member Michigan Climate Action Council to develop a comprehensive climate action plan for the state.
“We in the Midwest are prepared to lead an industrial revolution … through energy policies that will transform our rust belt image into the nation’s hub for alternative energy,” Granholm said.
in a statement. “The Midwest can be a pilot for reducing greenhouse gases, while Michigan can be the state that develops and produces the technology that makes it happen.”
Although the Midwest has 22 percent of the U.S. population, it produces 27 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. That’s partly because it relies more on coal for electricity than other regions. Seventy-one percent of its electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, compared to a national average of 49 percent.
The agreement calls for a number of other changes by 2015, including:
— Reducing energy consumption by 2 percent, with a 2 percent reduction each year after that.
— Offering the ethanol-based gasoline known as E-85 at 15 percent of gas stations, up from the current 3 percent.
— Generating 10 percent of the region’s electricity from renewable resources. By 2030, that portion should be 30 percent.
Five U.S. governors and Doer signed the deal in Milwaukee. Besides Doyle, Pawlenty and Granholm, other signers in attendance were: Iowa Gov. Chet Culver and South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds.
Four other governors are expected to sign the agreement, Canter said. They are: Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.
Other states included in the governors’ association are Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota.
Culver said the group must get going on meeting its goals.
“It’s a great opportunity. We have gone through some very bitter and partisan times in this country,” he said, “and maybe this issue will allow us to come together for the common good.”
On the Net:
Midwestern Governors: http://www.midwesterngovernors.org
By Emily Fredrix
Associated Press Writer
16 November 2007
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