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2006 Policy Positions
of the Southern Legislative Conference

2. POLICY POSITION ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE


BACKGROUND

In 2002, President Bush announced a national Climate Challenge in order to focus efforts on more research and voluntary actions to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions.  The program dedicated $10 billion for climate research over five years and set a goal for voluntary GhG reductions of 18 percent by 2012, based on economic intensity.  The latest U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data suggest the challenge is working.  Some 226 U.S. industries and governments have initiated more than 2,000 GhG projects which have resulted in more than 277 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction in 2004.  The EIA further concluded that emissions of CO2 per unit of GDP fell by 23.5 percent from 1990 through 2004. 

In 2005, governors in nine New England states adopted a regional GhG approach which would require mandatory reductions and caps of CO2 from electric power generation.  The primary goal of the New England Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) consists of a CO2 cap that stabilizes power plant emissions at 2009 levels through 2015 and reduces the cap by 10 percent by 2019.  

The Washington, D.C.-based American Council for Capital Formation’s Center for Policy Research performed an in-depth analysis of an earlier version of the RGGI proposal and found the economic impacts in 2010 to be: an increase in electricity cost of 23 percent, a loss of 57,000 jobs; a decline in Gross Regional Product of 0.3 percent; and reduction in state tax revenues of $421 million.  Similarly, a study by New Hope Environmental Services of Charlottesville, Virginia, analyzed the environmental benefits of the RGGI proposal.  It found that reducing CO2 for power plants in the RGGI states to 25 percent below 1990 levels would produce insignificant, undetectable benefits, with global warming only being offset by 0.003 degrees Celsius and sea level rise by 0.1 cm in the year 2100. 

Currently CO2 is not classified as an air pollutant by the U.S. EPA (Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.,) and has not been demonstrated to cause or contribute to adverse human health effects. Likewise, no state in the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) has classified CO2 as a pollutant.

The SLC of The Council of State Governments has produced a study on Energy & Environment in the South.  The study identified some 85 percent of the electric energy produced in the Southern states as coming from fossil fuels. It recognized that fossil fuel is a key component of the South’s economy, enhancing the affordability of energy, and is essential for energy security.  

The SLC passed a resolution in 1998 that opposed the United States signing of the Kyoto Protocol based on the fact that it failed to include reductions for developing nations such as China, and it would result in job loss and serious economic harm to the United States.

RECOMMENDATION

The Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments urges the continuation of research into the positive and negative effects of GhG emissions on the Southern states.  Furthermore, it shall support, where appropriate, increased funding for the development of innovative technologies and carbon sequestration to voluntarily reduce GhG emissions economically. 

Furthermore, the SLC shall encourage, when appropriate, active participation of industries and governments in the South in the Administration’s National Climate Challenge.  Finally, the members of the SLC oppose the idea of forming a regional climate change initiative for the purpose of imposing mandated CO2 caps.


Adopted by the Southern Legislative Conference, August 1, 2006, Louisville, Kentucky

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