Iowa Gov. Chet Culver and a number of other Midwest governors signed a greenhouse gas reduction accord last week. The historic agreement, signed November 15 at the Midwest Governors Association's Energy and Climate Change Summit held in Milwaukee, Wis., will serve as a regional strategy to achieve energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Of particular interest to farmers, this agreement will help promote renewable energy - ethanol, biodiesel, wind and the newest form under development - cellulosic ethanol make from corncobs, stover and other crops.
Governors Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Premier Gary Doer of Manitoba, Canada, signed the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. Governors Ted Strickland of Ohio, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Mitch Daniels of Indiana signed onto the agreement as observers.
According to Culver, the accord will:
Establish greenhouse gas reduction targets and timeframes consistent with MGA member states' targets;
Develop a market-based and multi-sector cap-and-trade mechanism to help achieve those reduction targets;
Establish a system to enable tracking, management and crediting for entities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and
Develop and implement additional steps as needed to achieve the reduction targets, such as a low-carbon fuel standards and regional incentives and funding mechanisms.
"I am pleased Democrat and Republican Midwest Governors, along with Premier Doer of Manitoba, were able to come together to support such a worthy goal," says Culver. "The threat of global warming is real and it is our responsibility to take steps to reduce greenhouse gasses. The search for new forms of clean, renewable energy is underway in Iowa with the creation of the Power Fund and the first-ever Iowa Office of Energy Independence. Iowa's leadership in renewable energy, combined with our strong manufacturing base makes us perfectly situated to become the renewable energy capital of the nation."
Iowa will be renewable energy capital
Within the next year, governors and other participating jurisdictional leaders will establish targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions and complete development of proposed cap-and-trade system. Targets will be consistent with the 60% to 80% recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Full implementation of the accord will be completed within 30 months.
At the summit, Midwest states, including Nebraska and North Dakota, also adopted an Energy Security and Climate Stewardship Platform. It establishes shared goals for the Midwest region, including specific timelines for advance of energy efficiency, promotion of biobased products, production of renewable electricity and development of advance coal and carbon capture and storage.
To support these shared goals, the Midwestern states launched new cooperative regional initiatives to address the following:
CO2 management to create a regional transportation and storage infrastructure;
A bioproduct procurement program to support the growth of the region's bioeconomy;
Electricity transmission adequacy to support thousands of new megawatts of wind energy;
Renewable fuels corridors and coordinated signage to promote renewable fuel usage across the Midwest;
Advanced bioenergy permitting to assist states with the latest technologies; and
Low-carbon energy transmission infrastructure that will provide a cost-effective way to supply the Midwest with sustainable and environmentally responsible energy.
Boosts ethanol, biodiesel, wind and solar
Midwestern states are leading the nation in the development of renewable energy and energy-efficiency programs. The Midwest boasts world-class renewable energy resources that support rapidly growing wind energy, corn ethanol and biodiesel industries, and has the potential for robust cellulosic biomass and solar industries.
In May 2007, Iowa Gov. Culver signed into law the creation of the $100 million Iowa Power Fund. This innovative, forward-thinking fund will invest $100 million into renewable energy research and development and keep Iowa on the cutting edge of all forms of renewable energy, including biofuels, hydro, geothermal, solar and wind energy, he says.
The legislation also created the first-ever Iowa Office of Energy Independence, which is headed by Roya Stanley. This office is focused entirely on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Iowa has a Climate Change Advisory Council
In April 2007, the Iowa Legislature passed and Culver signed SF 485, a bill creating the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council to determine the best strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Iowa. This bill will also enable the state to collect data on greenhouse gas emissions through licensing of electric power generating facilities and reporting by other producers of greenhouse gases. A part of Iowa's strategy on protecting the environment, SF 485 will develop a blueprint for Iowa lawmakers to follow to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord builds on existing greenhouse gas reduction efforts in each state as well as three existing regional efforts. In 2003 California, Oregon and Washington created the West Coast Global Warming Initiative; in 2006, Arizona and New Mexico launched the Southwest Climate Change Initiative. In Feb. 2007Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington launched the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative.
Environmental leaders praise the pact
Iowa environmental leaders are praising the agreement on global warming reduction. Iowa Gov. Chet Culver exercised bold leadership to reduce the critical threat of global warming and promote economic development when he signed the historic multi-state agreement Nov. 15 to significantly reduce carbon emissions, Iowa environmental leaders say.
Culver joined leaders of five other Midwestern states and the Premier of Manitoba, Canada in a pact to cut carbon pollution 60% to 80%, as recommended by scientists. The agreement, signed at a meeting of the Midwest Governors Association, will spur investment in clean, renewable energy and energy efficient technology – fueling the growth of local industries in Iowa, says Culver.
"Our governors, by signing this agreement, will propel Iowa and the Midwest to a clean energy economy. Boosting our use of wind, solar and biomass will create thousands of new jobs," says Nathaniel Baer, energy director at the Iowa Environmental Council.
Already wind turbine manufacturers have brought nearly 1,000 new jobs and over $100 million in capital investments to Iowa. Studies by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Environmental Law & Policy Center show that thousands of additional jobs and investments are in store from the kind of clean energy policies recommended in this platform, says Baer.
The multi-state accord finalized last week should also yield major reductions in Iowa's total energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, which rank in the top half of the nation, according figures from the Energy Information Administration in the U.S. Department of Energy. "With the stroke of Gov. Culver's pen, Iowa has reversed its legacy as a major source of global warming pollution and emerged as part of the solution to the problem. We thank him for his leadership in securing our energy future," says Marian Riggs Gelb, executive director for the Iowa Environmental Council.
Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, says: "With this accord being signed by the governors the Heartland went from being a part of the country at the center of America's global warming problem to a region eagerly seeking to take the kind of bold, visionary action that is needed to combat the problem… It is particularly important these Midwest governors move to take aggressive action on this issue, as the Midwest is the epicenter of the Coal Rush."
Pope continues, "Though we have been successful in slowing the dash to build more coal plants, it could yet derail all efforts to reduce our emissions for decades to come. Kansas' decision to reject a future wedded to dirty coal sets a strong precedent that we very much hope will be followed by other states in the region. The region stands to gain over 289,000 new manufacturing jobs if it makes a real commitment to renewable energy - a far better deal for the environment and the economy than anything on offer from Big Coal.
"It is now our turn to take action - as citizens of Iowa and advocates for a new clean energy economy that reduces global warming pollution, lowers energy costs through energy efficiency and bolsters job creation through renewable energy. We need you to do one or more of things at the local, state, and national level to support Gov. Culver's and the Sierra Club's efforts in Iowa."