Monday, November 19, 2007

Midwest climate pact generates little attention

Midwest Governors (plus Canadian officials) signed a couple of climate agreements in Milwaukee last Thursday. Madison's liberal paper, The Capital Times, only ran a couple of AP articles by Emily Fredrix who explains:
The plan calls for laying out concrete goals within the next eight months and establishing the cap-and-trade system within a year, with the entire agreement implemented within 2 1/2 years.

Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Manitoba, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin agreed to that deal, according to an association ballot circulated among the states. Indiana, Ohio and South Dakota have agreed as observers.
Those states also agreed to the other part of this agreement:
Under the other pact, biofuels produced in the Midwest and other low-carbon fuels would make up at least half of all transportation energy consumed in the region by 2025. A third of retail gas stations in the region, or about 10,000 stations, would offer the ethanol-based gasoline E-85 by that year.

Thirty percent of electricity in the region would come from renewable sources by 2030. All new coal plants would capture and store carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, and a multi-jurisdiction pipeline would be permitted by 2012 to move carbon dioxide captured from new plants to a reservoir.

This was called a regional summit on energy and climate change but a lot of the above is about "energy independence": finding a replacement for middle-east oil which powers our transportation. Everyone reading about global warming should remember this fact: doing something for independence in our transportation fuels doesn't necessarily do anything to stop global warming. Burning ethanol still produces CO2, though not as much as gasoline. Most of our CO2 release is from electricity generation.
A Reuters article from John Rondy answers my question from two posts ago:
The third such pact between U.S. states means that nearly half of Americans will be living in areas covered by agreements designed to combat global warming, according to the Washington-based World Resources Institute.

The area involved in Thursday's agreement runs from Ohio west to Kansas. If the region were its own country, the World Resources group estimates, it would be the globe's fifth-biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions behind the United States as a whole, Russia, China and India.
The midwest gets about 70% of its electricity from coal (Chicago, mostly nuclear, is an exception) so we've got a lot to do. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorsed the pact in an editorial.
The NYTimes covered it as part of story on other regional efforts. The WashPost didn't cover it at all.

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