TCS Daily


Governors and Greens Au Groton

By Jon Reisman - September 5, 2003 12:00 AM

Early this month the Maine Public Policy Institute is sending me down to the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers confab at the Mystic Marriott in Groton, Connecticut to test the state policy network motto: ideas have consequences.

 

I'm carrying a letter to the Governors and Premiers from a coalition of New England and Canadian free-market think tanks regarding continued efforts to implement the 2001 Climate Change Agreement (CCA). The CCA is an international and interstate agreement based on the unratified and Bush administration-rejected Kyoto Protocol. The CCA can be accessed at http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org. The reader may speculate as to why this official document is available on a green NGO site but not at http:///www.negc.org

 

Under Article 1 section 10 of the U.S. Constitution and over 150 years of binding precedent, such agreements require the consent of the U.S. Congress which, in this instance, has not been given or even requested. New England's Governors have usurped the Treaty power reserved to the President and Congress.

 

The letter requests that the Governors ask their Congressional delegations to submit legislation authorizing the CCA immediately. We note that 11 of 12 New England Senators have sponsored legislation that would regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The leader of the pack is host Connecticut's own Presidential hopeful Joseph Lieberman. Senator Lieberman has sponsored or co-sponsored a league leading four bills to essentially implement Kyoto. Surely one more shouldn't be a problem, and he can moralize about following the constitution as well.

 

Without Congressional authorization the Governors are inviting litigation in federal court over the CCA, as well as tempting other states and provinces to sign similar agreements that are inconsistent with national policy. For instance, Alaska, British Columbia and Yukon might well sign their own energy development agreement, perhaps to build a pipeline just in case.

 

Finally, the letter requests that the Governors and Premiers demonstrate exactly how much global warming the implementation of the CCA will prevent, and at what cost in terms of higher energy prices for electricity, gasoline, and heating oil. The answers appear to be none and a lot. The Governors and Premiers may proudly boast of their "... forceful advocacy of environmental issues and sustainable development," but higher energy prices are death for New England. The five Republican Governors in particular have some explaining to do.

 

Jon Reisman teaches environmental policy at the University of Maine at Machias and is a Maine Public Policy Institute Scholar

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