State Standards Trump Federal Efforts

Reporting by Roddy Scheer

Three regional coalitions in the U.S. have teamed up to fight climate change through emissions reductions.©

Ironic as it may seem, state and regional efforts to limit the emission of greenhouse gases might delay the passage of federal regulations mandating reductions. "The biggest issue is how do we incorporate all these state regimes into a federal program," said carbon market expert Peter Fusaro, a founder of New York-based Global Change Associates.

Nine Midwestern states linked up last month to become the third U.S. regional coalition committed to fighting climate change through emissions reductions. When the 10 eastern and five western states already committed to emissions reduction are included, nearly half of all Americans now live in areas covered by agreements to combat global warming.

According to Jonathan Black, a staff assistant for Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, many members of Congress will have a tough time selling their constituents back home on weak federal legislation superceding their own tougher state laws. "As time goes on… and as these states get further and further entrenched, these members are going to face a lot of pressure back home to not support something that doesn’t necessarily look like what they are doing, or at the least oppose things that would weaken what they would do," Black told reporters.

"At this point, federal legislation looks as though it is lagging behind more progressive efforts in a number of the states," said Frank O"Donnell of the DC-based nonprofit Clean Air Watch. He agrees with Fusaro that the strength of regional commitments might be enough to delay passage of a federal plan well into the administration of the next American president, if not longer.

Sources: Global Change; Planet Ark; Clean Air Watch