Western Climate Initiative Offers No Definable Benefit


If you haven’t heard of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) yet, you soon will. WCI is a collaboration launched in 2007 by the governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington that now also includes Utah, Montana and parts of Canada. WCI’s stated purpose is to develop a regional strategy to address climate change. The strategy is to force costly greenhouse gas reductions that may not address global warming at all.

WCI is designing a cap and trade regulatory policy which entails limits on aggregate emissions and tradable pollution permits which, in theory, let the market decide where the most cost-effective emission reductions can be made. The program will cover 90% of the entire Oregon economy from electricity generation to gasoline. If implemented by the state of Oregon, it will affect every citizen in the state through higher utility bills, higher prices at the pump, and higher food costs.

Since climate change is a global issue, WCI ought to have an assessment of the regional effectiveness of this wide-ranging policy. The WCI does have goals that outline the exact amount of greenhouse gas that they want to reduce (15% below 2005 levels by 2020) but no assessment of whether these arbitrary reductions will aid in reversing global warming. WCI is taking a shot in the dark while causing a devastating blow to our economy, and a robust economy is the only hope for being able to effectively adapt to any future changes in climate.

It is obvious that WCI’s true goal is to limit emissions at any cost while providing no real measurable benefit. Unfortunately, cap and trade proposals are blindly moving forward in Oregon with Governor Kulongoski’s blessing. Citizens and politicians need to challenge hefty environmental policies that have no merit and are based on subjective measures of success.

Todd Wynn is the climate change and energy policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.

© 2008, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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