Douglas hopeful for deal on greenhouse gas plan

11/28/05 12:00AM By John Dillon
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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas and state environmental leaders support a regional plan to reduce greenhouse gas pollution despite concerns that it could hike energy prices.

Nine Northeast states have delayed signing up because Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has raised objections.

But Douglas says he hopes the deal can be completed quickly.

VPR's John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The states want to freeze power plant emissions in the region at current levels and then reduce them by 10% by 2020.

But Governor Romney is worried that the plan could lead to higher energy costs.

The deal was supposed to be announced on December 1st, but it was delayed because of Romney's concerns.

Governor Jim Douglas doesn't want to postpone the regional greenhouse gas plan.

(Douglas) "I hope that it can happen in the not too distant future. There's no particular deadline, but it's something I think we ought to initiate it to show leadership, to show that Northeastern governors can provide the opportunity for reducing emissions in our region."

(Dillon) Environmental Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg is Vermont's chief negotiator on the regional greenhouse gas initiative.

He says he can't provide many details of the talks because the negotiations are still underway.

(Wennberg) "I guess all I can say is that we don't share Governor Romney's concern or his solution to that concern. We think there are plenty of mechanisms built into the plan as developed to address those concerns."

(Dillon) Negotiators from around the world are meeting in Montreal this week to work out ways to implement the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gases.

The United States did not agree to the Kyoto protocol. So much of the action to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming has shifted to the state and regional level.

Wennberg says the regional greenhouse gas plan has gotten a lot of attention from European delegates in Montreal.

But he says the issues, even on a regional level, are very complex.

(Wennberg) "You've got nine states throughout the northeast with a wide diversity of energy profiles, greenhouse gas emission profiles, kind of political constituencies. And so coming up with one program that could work regionally, be effective in reducing greenhouse gases, and also cost-effective from a standpoint of impact on ratepayers is quite a bit of work."

(Dillon) Environmental groups support the regional plan. James Moore is an energy specialist with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. He says Vermont needs to do much more to reduce its own greenhouse gas pollution.

(Moore) "Our emissions have gone up dramatically since 1990, upwards of 23%. And the governor committed to working toward regional goals that he set with the New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers to reach the 1990 levels, to get back down to the 1990 levels.""

(Dillon) Wennberg says Vermont has pushed hard to lower greenhouse gases. He says state government has made significant progress in cutting its own pollution.

For Vermont Public Radio, I'm John Dillon in Montpelier.
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