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John Daley Reporting Utah's governor and California's "Governator" are teaming up to tackle a fearsome foe: global warming. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made the fight against climate change a top priority in his state.
Governor Huntsman was joined by Governor Schwarzenegger as he signed the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative in the governor's mansion today. It's an agreement that calls for a regional goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from six states and British Columbia. The two chatted briefly in a room named after President, and renowned conservationist, Teddy Roosevelt.
The two Republicans invoked Roosevelt's environmental legacy, saying that the issue of protecting the environment and reducing the greenhouse gases warming the globe is both imperative and bipartisan in that the governors of the other participating states are all Democrats.
Governor Huntsman said, "One hundred four years ago this month, when Teddy Roosevelt came here, he thanked Utahns for being good conservationists. I think that there is an ethos that exists in our state that still very much believes in that."
Governor Schwarzenegger said, "We don't have such a thing as Democratic air and Democratic water, or Republican air or Republican water. It is people's air and people's water. We all use it the same."
Sarah Wright with Utah Clean Energy said, "It's a bipartisan issue. It shows that it's a bipartisan issue. And Utah, being a conservative state, people didn't expect us to step up to the plate, and we did."
Governor Schwarzenegger has made the fight against global warming a centerpiece of his administration. Today, the California Republican co-authored an editorial in the Washington Post which sharply criticized the Bush administration's response to the threat of global warming, saying the federal government needs to become a partner in the fight or "get out of the way."
The pact calls for a cap to greenhouse gas emissions, a trade program where emission credits could be sold, and a registry to track emissions. Huntsman says he was intrigued by the idea of the pact when Governor Schwarzenegger first described it at a National Governors Association meeting in February.
The pact declares that western states are feeling the "effects of a hotter, drier climate with prolonged droughts and excessive heat waves, reduced snow packs and spring runoffs and altered precipitation patterns and more severe wildfires."
The cause is identified as "emission of human-caused greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, which are affecting the Earth's climate." And it states unequivocally that the "scientific consensus is that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are affecting the Earth's climate."
Both governors say new technology, whether renewables or cleaner coal plants, will save the day. "What used to be the industrial revolution now will be the clean, green technology revolution," Schwarzenegger said.
"More than anything else, we're setting the stage for our future. This is all part of the legacy that we're handing down to the next generation," Huntsman said.
Utah has already set a goal of improving its energy efficiency 25 percent by 2015, but Huntsman says Utah must prepare for national climate change controls and prepare to benefit from the numerous business opportunities likely to be created.
The U.S., with 5 percent of the world's population, produces 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gases. And both governors say it's high time the U.S. starts to turn that around.
Both governors say it sends a strong message to Washington and the Bush administration to join the bipartisan fight to slow global warming.
Governor Schwarzenegger said, "I think this partnership here is huge. I think this is really big. I think that this is going to be nationwide news. I think everyone will pay attention to that. I think this sends a very clear message to the federal government that we are now forming these partnerships because of a lack of leadership there."
Governor Huntsman sid, "I think this very much represents exactly what the people of this state would like to see done. We're here. And we're glad that we're here, and more than anything else, we're setting the stage for our future. This is all part of the legacy that we're handing down to the next generation."
The initiative signed today includes New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.
Governor Huntsman said, "So what we're doing here is really creating a broader framework for the way in which we power ourselves and prepare for the future, and deal realistically with climate change."