Western Governors Ask Obama for National Green Energy Plan

WASHINGTON, DC, November 28, 2008 (ENS) - In a letter to President-elect Barack Obama, the Western governors are urging swift action in adopting and implementing a national energy plan that would transform the country's energy infrastructure and economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The group of 19 governors from both political parties are calling for near-zero greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired electricity generation in 10 years and from existing generation no later than 2030.

Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., chairman of the Western Governors' Association, and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, vice chairman, discussed the association's recommendations with John Podesta, co-chair of Obama transition team.

"The transformation we are talking about is broad based and will require new policies, incentives, market mechanisms and private-public partnerships to be in place by the end of next year," said Huntsman, a Republican. "We plan to work with the new administration and Congress in addressing the multitude of energy challenges ahead."

The 19 Western governors represent many of the nation's largest energy-producing states such as Texas, which is first in both oil and wind power production, and Wyoming, which ranks first among the states in coal production. They represent California, which leads the nation in electricity generation from non-hydroelectric renewable energy sources - a combination of geothermal power, wind power, fuel wood, landfill gas, and solar power.

The governors' letter outlines policies and incentives that would help states and the country move more quickly to develop clean and renewable energy resources that include wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage.

"Western states are the country's energy breadbasket, but energy efficiency has also got to play a much bigger role," said Schweitzer, a Democrat. "That includes everything from manufacturing more fuel-efficient vehicles to changing regulatory structures so they reward utilities for achieving reduced energy usage among their customers."

In their letter, handed to the transition team late last week, the governors said a national energy policy must promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a scale necessary to contribute to climate stabilization.

The Obama administration's policy must maximize the economic development opportunities offered by clean energy; ensure energy costs are affordable and support a sustainable, growing economy, the governors said.

They urge the incoming administration to increase the proportion of energy supplies that come from domestic resources and friendly trading partners; and minimize adverse environmental impacts.

Within the first 100 days, the governors are calling on the Obama administration to:

  • Establish an aggressive and achievable national greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal that will put the United States on a path to contribute to global climate stabilization.
  • Propose a mandatory national system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that makes maximum use of market-based mechanisms. Revenue raised should not be used as a means of sustaining or expanding general governmental operations.
  • Pursue a national energy efficiency program to reduce existing and future energy demand and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Establish an oil import reduction goal that strengthens energy security and independence. Since nearly 90 percent of oil is used for transportation, an energy plan must bring more fuel-efficient and near-zero emission vehicles into the market; increase the supply of domestically produced, low-carbon fuels; minimize the economic and technological uncertainties inherent in deploying high efficiency vehicles and developing and using non-petroleum transportation fuels; and reduce vehicle miles traveled and increase mass movement of people and goods.
  • Create a substantial, long-term national public investment on the scale of tens of billions of dollars annually, along with a similar investment from the private sector, to support the kind of basic and applied research and deployment of clean energy technology and infrastructure that will result in:
    • Near-zero greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired electricity generation in 10 years and from existing generation no later than 2030.
    • Dramatically increased energy from wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and biomass resources.
    • Expansion and upgrade of the electricity transmission grid and storage capabilities
    • Advanced vehicle and battery technologies and alternative transportation fuels.
    • Next generation energy efficiency technologies and practices.

The governors also urge affordability for lower income energy consumers through energy efficiency and cost assistance programs.

They support workforce development and clean energy jobs, adaptation to climate change impacts, reduced consumer impacts - particularly for low-income consumers - and transition assistance to industries.

"While the first 100 days are critical, these actions only represent the first steps," the governors say in their letter. "Within the next year, a comprehensive energy plan must be enacted that will set the direction of this nation for the next 50 years. This plan, though adjustable over time, must establish measurable goals, strategies, milestones and funding to ensure that we are moving towards affordable and environmentally responsible energy security and independence."

"We must not repeat the mistakes of the past," the governors declared in their letter. "We must have the collective political will and resolve to create and implement a long-term comprehensive energy policy despite short-term political and market fluctuations. The future of our nation depends upon it."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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