Dozens of States Sign on to Climate Change Registry

By Monisha Bansal | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

( - Creating what they call the "largest national effort to take action on climate change," 31 states this week joined a registry designed to track greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But a conservative critic questioned whether any future agreements reached by the participating states would adhere to the U.S. Constitution.

According to its 31 charter members, The Climate Registry, "is a tool to measure, track, verify and publicly report GHG emissions accurately, transparently and consistently across borders and industry sectors.

Many environmentalists and much of the public believe climate change is the result of human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). Others believe there is no definite answer for the warming of the planet.

The Climate Registry states, 21 of which are governed by Democrats and 10 by Republicans, say their effort "will support voluntary, market-based and regulatory GHG emissions reporting programs."

"This is a critical first step in developing robust programs to reduce GHG emissions," the group asserts.

"You have to be able to count carbon pollution in order to cut carbon pollution," said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"The Registry gives business and policymakers an essential accounting tool for tracking the success of the many emerging global warming emission reduction initiatives that are blossoming across the country."

The group stressed that the registry is a voluntary state system, but that federal action is necessary.

"The Climate Registry is designed to serve state needs, not replace a federal program," the group stated. "States recognize that national GHG policies will be adopted in the future.

"And, when national programs are adopted, states and tribes will continue to want to know the GHG sources within their own states."

Arizona Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano welcomed the program. "The Climate Registry is another example of how states are taking the lead in the absence of federal action to address greenhouse gas emissions in this country," she said.

"This registry is not only an important tool to help states and tribes identify and track emissions, but it also will encourage businesses and others who generate greenhouse gases to do the right thing and cut their greenhouse gas emissions and get credit for doing so," Napolitano said.

But Myron Ebell, director of Energy and Global Warming Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said "a lot of what the states are doing is symbolic and directed at forcing Congress to do something."

"It doesn't have any immediate real impact," he told Cybercast News Service. "You look at a lot of these states, and you see that a lot of them are just jumping up and down and trying to attract attention."

Ebell acknowledged that the registry is "a necessary step towards energy rationing." He said he believes that "it indicates that some states are becoming more serious about restricting energy use and raising energy prices. We are already seeing some states passing laws."

But he cautioned that the Constitution "does not allow the states to engage in agreements between themselves without the express approval of Congress, so on the face of it, these agreements are unconstitutional."

The Climate Registry will begin accepting data in January 2008.

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