TCS Daily

Carbon Copy Coalition

By Jon Reisman - April 24, 2003 12:00 AM

The state by state effort to implement the Kyoto protocol came to Concord, New Hampshire this week as the state's environmental groups launched the "Carbon Coalition" to keep the issue on the front burner and stir the political, policy and propaganda pot.

The Coalition opened with a typical apocalyptic salvo: "Global warming threatens public health, the economy and the environment in our state and across the nation," said Coalition co-chair Republican state representative Ted Leach.

A second barrage from co-chair and former state Democratic Party chair Joseph Keefe subtly appealed for more leadership: " New Hampshire was the first state in the nation to adopt legislation curbing carbon dioxide pollution. In addition, the New England governors have embraced ambitious goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions."

A host of Kyotophile NGO's created the Carbon Coalition, including lead coordinator Cool Air - Clean Planet as well as Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Appalachian Mountain Club, Audubon Society of New Hampshire and New Hampshire Public Interest Research Group. Academics at the University of New Hampshire and Dartmouth are also included.

The Coalition claims to be "non-partisan" and includes a number of "green" Republicans in the New England tradition of Senators Jim Jeffords of Vermont (now an independent) and Maine's Olympia Snowe. The climate change debate is a bit of a touchy and unsettled subject in New Hampshire political circles these days. Freshman Republican Congressman Jeb Bradley sponsored the carbon regulation bill as a state representative. He fared somewhat better than the other primary advocate: former Democratic governor Jeanne Shaheen, who lost a U.S. Senate bid to Kyoto opponent John Sununu. Sununu beat former Environment and Public Works chair Bob Smith in a tight primary. Smith had catered to the green agenda at some cost to his political base.

The Carbon Coalition has three targets: public opinion, President Bush and Governor Craig Benson. The environmental left believes, with historical justification, that policy, political and fund-raising success depend on continuing to scare Americans on environmental issues, and in that sense, this new effort might be more accurately called the carbon copy coalition.

The most interesting target is Governor Craig Benson. A wealthy cable TV entrepreneur with some conservative and free market credentials, Benson has been largely reticent on global warming. He has so far declined to either endorse or reject the constitutionally suspect New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change agreement signed by his predecessor. New Hampshire's gubernatorially appointed but traditionally independent new Attorney General (think Warren Rudman) has so far declined to join New England's other AG's in suing the Bush administration to list carbon dioxide as a pollutant and regulate it. If Benson decides to support President Bush and put the kibosh on New Hampshire's Kyoto implementation, the whole New England effort may start to unravel.

Kyotophiles need a compliant New Hampshire Governor in order to successfully push additional carbon regulation and continue to bash President Bush. We should find out soon if they have one.

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