States look differently at Obama global warming plan
Obama is beginning the process of getting his climate change legislation moving forward and has chosen two liberal Democrats, Sen Barbara Boxer & Rep Henry Waxman, to lead this process. Both legislators hail from California, which is significantly further along in the carbon footprint reduction process than many other states. California gets about 20% of its electricity from coal; in contrast, Ohio generates 86% from coal. Minnesota is somewhere around 60% (and hopefully falling from the work we've done lately, but I haven't seen recent numbers).
Because of this stark difference in electricity generation sources, support for this legislation depends on geographical location. Legislators from the Northeast and California are strongly in support of it. Those in the Midwest and Plains states are not.
This has long been predicted as a problem for any national carbon regulation. California is obviously ready for national legislation -- it has many policies in place that will smooth its transition or even may be more stringent than any national policy. However, coal-rich states, from the Rockies to the Midwest to the Southeast, have been less eager to enact policies to promote alternative energy sources and therefore will require more investment and time to meet national standards. It will be interesting to see how the legislation is crafted to balance the differences in states' ability to meet carbon reduction goals.
Another challenge is determining how this legislation will affect economic development within the US. With our current struggling economy, will carbon regulation be too expensive? Will it boost jobs through the promotion of alternative sources, or will it stifle development as companies are further regulated? Opinions differ... but I think the regulation is overdue, necessary, and will hopefully not be too painful.
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