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Midwest States Call for 20% Reduction in GHG Emissions

usclimatemapSix Midwestern governors and a Manitoban premier have released recommendations for a regional cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plan calls for a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2005 levels by 2020, and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

The recommendations give governors in the Midwest a possible framework for a regional system if Congress fails to act pass a federal cap-and-trade system by 2012, reports KSTP TV News in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Signed by the governors of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and the premier of Manitoba, Canada, the recommendations are the result of an 18-month process that began in 2007 when the governors formed the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord.

“In the absence of federal climate legislation, regional partnerships are vital to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, spurring energy innovations, and creating green jobs,” stated Franz Litz, a senior fellow at World Resources Institute (WRI) who advised the regional group.

Following other regional carbon-trading agreements in the western and northeastern U.S., including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and Western Climate Initiative (WCI), this is the first to address the unique climate challenges faced in America’s heartland, says WRI.

In April, there was talk about the regional carbon markets in the U.S. joining forces before the launch of federal greenhouse gas legislation. The federal legislation could cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and establish a cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide and national standards for renewable energy.

In the Northeast, the RGGI caps carbon-dioxide emissions from large electric utilities in 10 eastern states with a goal of reducing emissions by 10 percent by 2018. WCI is a cap-and-trade program covering various industries in seven western states and four Canadian provinces.

The Midwestern program’s design will focus on promoting carbon sequestration through good agricultural practices, investment in carbon capture and storage, and energy efficiency, says WRI.

The Midwest plan covers more economic sectors than the Northeastern system, which is already in effect but focuses on the power industry, and unlike the Western system that phases in different sectors of the economy, the Midwest brings them in all at once, reports KSTP News.

It also slightly differs from the federal cap-and-trade program currently being debated in Congress. Legislation introduced in Congress begins with free allowances that eventually are bought and sold on the open market, while most of the allowances for emissions under the Midwest plan would initially be sold for a small fee to help ease the cost of the transition to both industry and consumers, according to KSTP News.

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