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Western U.S., Canadian Carbon Market Shrinks Again

The Western Climate Initiative, a proposed cap-and-trade program for the Western U.S. and parts of Canada, may launch in 2012 with fewer states than planned because they don’t have laws in place that allow them to participate in the regional emissions market, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Allan Bedwell, vice-president at CantorCO2e, the emissions markets unit of Cantor Fitzgerald LP, told Bloomberg Businessweek that most states and provinces must pass new laws to legally participate in the Western Climate Initiative.

The Western Climate Initiative, which was initially comprised of seven U.S. states and four Canadian provinces, targets a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from 2005 levels by 2020.

In March, Arizona dropped out of the regional cap-and-trade program, Washington and Montana failed to get the necessary legislative approval, and Utah passed a resolution to pull out of the initiative.

Bedwell also said the Oregon legislature still has not passed a law that would allow the state to participate in the program.

Tim Cheung, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in the article that it’s likely that only California and New Mexico will be able to enforce a regional cap-and-trade program, together with the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

The initiative is still expected to be three times larger than the regional cap-and-trade program in the Northeast, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

In New Mexico, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Improvement Board can consider state regulations that would cap greenhouse gases, reports The New Mexico Independent.

This reverses an earlier decision by the Lovington District Court that stopped the board’s consideration of a 2008 petition by environmental group New Energy Economy (NEE) to regulate carbon emissions in New Mexico, according to the article.

The petition calls for a 25 percent cap on GHG emissions below 1990 levels, reports KRQE News.

In January, a lawsuit was filed by PNM, three Republican state lawmakers and oil and gas industry groups to halt the petition, citing the board lacks authority under state law to regulate air quality without first establishing the specific air quality standards, reports the newspaper.

The State Environment Department also asked the Environmental Improvement Board to consider a regional cap-and-trade on GHG emissions, which the oil and gas industry groups also oppose, citing that only the federal government should regulate GHG emissions, reports KRQE News.

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