Governors, Premiers Promise To Work Together To Cut Greenhouse Gases

07/30/12 5:50PM By John Dillon
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AP/Toby Talbot
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and Quebec Premier Jean Charest vote on a renewable energy resolution.

New England's governors and premiers from eastern Canadian Provinces have promised to work together to cut greenhouse gases and boost public transportation in the region.

The governors and premiers met on Monday in Burlington, where they called for a regional approach to acquiring renewable electricity.

Energy was the main focus of the meeting. And the New England governors have their eyes on Canada's electricity resources.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said the region could benefit from competition within Canada to export electricity. He points out that Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador are all developing new hydroelectric projects.

"The fact of the matter is it's helpful to Vermont, it's helpful to the northeast states to have the Canadians competing for our business. Competition is always good, it always results in a lower price," Shumlin said. "The combination of the expansion of hydro in both Labrador and Quebec because they're both expanding, and building more juice than the Canadians can burn, combined with the natural gas prices driving down energy prices generally, is an opportunity for us a region to sign up some cheap, green reliable power."

Quebec Premier Jean Charest urged other New England states to follow Vermont's lead and pass legislation declaring that large-scale hydro power is a "renewable" resource.

"I want to commend the state of Vermont, including Peter, who played a role in that agreement we signed, because the state of Vermont is the first state to recognize, to not discriminate against large scale hydro," Charest said. "We're not asking for the recognition of large-scale hydro, we're just asking that we not discriminate against large scale hydro."

But Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said his state's utilities would only be interested in buying Quebec power if the price was right.

"Connecticut's interest is in procuring the lowest possible cost and lowering our effective cost for our end users," he said..

But delegates from Quebec said they offer stably priced energy that is competitive over time.

Quebec Premier Charest said regional organizations such as the conference of governors and premiers have been able to reduce greenhouse gas initiatives while other international efforts have failed.

"And today we reported that our objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions set in 2001 for 2010 has been met and exceeded," he said. "So we can be proud of that accomplishment. .. So what are we about? We're about energy, clean energy, de-carbonizing our economies and a cleaner and our environment, and the recognition that we live in the same place."

Charest said his province has mostly resolved differences with the indigenous people in the James Bay region of Quebec who had fought large-scale hydro projects. But a delegation of Innu people from northeastern Quebec traveled to Burlington to voice their opposition for Hydro-Quebec's plans to develop new dams on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.

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