June 12, 2006

US governors adopt energy plans for the West

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Governors of states in the U.S.
West approved proposals over the weekend to add cleaner energy
resources to meet the region's growing demand for electricity
and they called for reductions in greenhouse gases linked to
global warming.

The Western Governors Association, which represents 19
states and three U.S.-flag islands in the Pacific, passed
measures on Sunday that call for 30,000 new megawatts of clean
energy supplies such as solar and geothermal power by 2015, and
development of cleaner fuels like ethanol and biodiesel and
climate change policies for the West.

The resolution on climate change, however, did not lay out
specific actions to be taken.

California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told the
governors at their annual meeting in Sedona, Arizona, that they
must work harder on the greenhouse problem.

"On global warming we still come up short," Schwarzenegger
said. "We've made progress in everyone seeing it's a serious
problem. But unless we set specific goals and targets with
specific ways to measure our performance, a resolution won't
mean very much."

"We're long past the time when it's OK just to talk about
these problems," he said.

The measure also urged Congress and the Bush administration
to fund research on climate change and to support coordinated
international research on the issue.

"California, in particular, has come to the point where we
can look beyond coal and natural gas and focus on real energy
solutions such as efficiency, wind, solar and geothermal
power," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, spokeswoman for watchdog
group Environment California.

A bill introduced in April in the California Legislature
would make the state the first to order a limit on emissions of
heat-trapping gases.

"This is a really good bill that will put some teeth behind
the governor's goals," Del Chiaro said.

The measure, drafted by Democrat Assembly Speaker Fabian
Nunez and Democrat Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, aims to cut
emissions from power plants, oil refineries, manufacturing
industries and other large businesses by 25 percent by 2020.

Industries would have to report their emissions levels to
the state beginning in 2008 with reductions of gases to begin
in 2012.

The Western governors also called on the U.S. Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission to work with the states to make
the regional power grid more efficient and to expand it to tap
renewable energy supplies in remote areas.