Nevada absent from greenhouse gas reduction initiative | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada absent from greenhouse gas reduction initiative

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer

Nevada was conspicuously absent Wednesday from a consortium of six Western states that have signed on to fight global warming.

Virtually all of Nevada’s neighbors – Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Utah along with Canadian provinces Manitoba and British Columbia have committed to reduce the region’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. The effort is similar to California’s AB32 legislation signed into law by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year.

Gov. Jim Gibbons decided that Nevada would not sign on in order to further study the initiative and focus on what’s best for the state, a Gibbons spokeswoman said.

“At this point, we are committed to addressing Nevada’s specific needs,” said press secretary Melissa Subbotin. “We don’t feel it’s in the state’s best interests to sign on to a one-size-fits-all program. But we’re also observing.”

Subbotin said director of the state office of energy, Hatice Gecol, is “committed to studying the issue.”

“In April, Gov. Gibbons issued an order to start a climate change study of our own to best address Nevada’s needs,” she said. “The climate change advisory group here will work to develop policy that is tailored to help Nevada’s needs.”

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Localized study of a global problem made some environmentalists question Gibbons long-term plan.

“I guess if the Sierra Club could speak to Gov. Gibbons directly, it would encourage him to forego unnecessary study of an issue that’s already been studied and accepted as a critical national and worldwide problem,” said David Hornbeck, chair of the executive committee of the Toiyabe chapter of the Sierra Club. “We would encourage him to join the other forward-thinking states in this region.

“Protecting Nevada’s pristine environment is fully in the interest of the state.”

The partnership also plans to later create a blueprint for the so-called “cap-and-trade” system in the region, a proposal that would allow high-polluting businesses to buy carbon credits from low-polluting firms in other states and the provinces.

Sierra Club spokesman Hornbeck said he also hopes Gibbons could look to the partnership to help curb high-polluting business here.

“I would hope Gov. Gibbons would recognize the critical nature of a regional bi-partisan approach to global warming and work with Sen. Reid and Gov. Schwarzenegger in preventing the pollution of Nevada from additional coal-fired power plants, which contribute to the global warming problem,” he said.

Some Democratic lawmakers and environmentalists have argued that AB32 requires regulations to cut emissions before considering market-based systems of trading carbon credits.

It is not yet clear exactly what measures will be taken by states in the consortium to reduce greenhouse gases. Some of the governments involved in today’s decision still must pass laws to establish long-term or short-term reduction goals for the gases like carbon dioxide and methane.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report. Andrew Pridgen can be reached at apridgen@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.