Arnold Schwarzenegger has an entertaining encounter with a constituent
who doesn’t like immigration and doesn’t believe in global warming, in
this NWN video.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s greenhouse offensive continued yesterday, as he journeyed to Salt Lake City to sign red state Utah’s Republican Governor Jon Huntsman up for the Western states’ accord on climate change. Earlier in the day, he and Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell, also a Republican, authored a blistering column in the Washington Post demanding that the Bush Administration allow their states and others to cut tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases.
Utah is joining the Western climate change accord, joining California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, and the Canadian province of British Columbia in an agreement to fight climate change. What’s striking about the accord with Utah is that it is one of the most conservative states in the nation. While Arizona and New Mexico are swing states, and the West Coast states more blue than not, Utah, home to the Mormon Church, is crimson in its reliable Republicanism. In addition to being one of the most striking states in the country — for now, at least — it is also one of the nation’s biggest coal states.
If Utah cuts greenhouse gas emissions, that will have both political and technological significance. Of course, Utah is not going to eliminate coal-fired electricity production, as some critics are already pointing out. What it is more likely to do, as has not been pointed out, is further the development of “clean coal” electric power production, which is a misnomer, and to use what is called carbon sequestration to capture and sequester the resultant gases in abandoned mines and the like. Imperfect solutions for an imperfect world, in which China has been adding 40 coal-fired power plants a year for years.
California is weaning itself off coal-fired production — all of the electricity purchased from out of state, with liberal LA’s municipal utility, the Department of Water & Power, the biggest consumer — courtesy of a bill by Senate leader Don Perata signed by Schwarzenegger last year. But other states, more dependent on old technology — California began the shift to greater energy efficiency, renewable energy, and cleaner burning natural gas during Attorney General Jerry Brown’s governorship in the 1970s — begin in different places as they seek to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
Schwarzenegger’s other big move of the day, the op-ed piece with a fellow Republican governor in the Washington Post, was what might be called aggressive diplomacy. California wants its tailpipe emissions law, authored by former LA Assemblywoman Fran Pavley in 2002, finally granted the necessary waiver by the US Environmental Protection Agency that previous moves against pollution have been accorded under California’s special status with the Clean Air Act. But the Bush Administration has dragged its heels for years, saying greenhouse gases couldn’t be regulated under the Clean Air Act. Until the US Supreme Court informed them otherwise.
Schwarzenegger didn’t mince words.
It’s bad enough that the federal government has yet to take the threat of global warming seriously, but it borders on malfeasance for it to block the efforts of states such as California and Connecticut that are trying to protect the public’s health and welfare. California, Connecticut and 10 other states are poised to enact tailpipe emissions standards — tougher than existing federal requirements — that would cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars, light trucks and sport-utility vehicles by 392 million metric tons by the year 2020, the equivalent to taking 74 million of today’s cars off the road for an entire year.
Since transportation accounts for one-third of America’s greenhouse gas emissions, enacting these standards would be a huge step forward in our efforts to clean the environment and would show the rest of the world that our nation is serious about fighting global warming. Yet for the past 16 months, the Environmental Protection Agency has refused to give us permission to do so. Even after the Supreme Court ruled in our favor last month, the federal government continues to stand in our way.
The EPA will hold the first of two public hearings this week on California’s tailpipe emissions law, which was enacted in 2002.
Following on the heels of Schwarzenegger’s Washington Post op-ed piece yesterday morning, Attorney General Jerry Brown went to Washington to further the push for the state’s tailpipe emissions law. The former two-term governor and two-time Democratic presidential runner-up is holding a number of meetings, testifying at an EPA hearing, holding a press conference, and appearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, chaired by Californian Barbara Boxer, to brief the committee and generate further pressure on the Bush Administration.
Brown has been through these fights before. When he was governor in the ’70s and early ’80s, California fought successfully to use its unique positioning under the Clean Air Act to cut air pollution, particularly in the form of nitrous oxides. The auto industry of Detroit insisted it couldn’t be done, that the technology didn’t exist, that the industry would be wrecked, a familiar stance at every stage of the advance of environmental and consumer protection.
Brown and California used regulation as what he calls “a forcing function” to spur the development and implementation of needed technologies. And of course the changes were accomplished without any of the extraordinary dislocation darkly warned of by the auto industry and its corps of lobbyists and operatives. History has a habit of repeating itself.
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