Laboratories of Democracy? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Laboratories of Democracy

December 20th, 2007

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency denied a request from the state of California for permission to exceed national standards on automobile emissions. It was the first such denial since the Clean Air Act was originally passed, marking a departure from 50-some such waivers previously granted.

It was not so long ago that the State Department’s Harlan Watson spoke at the 2003 Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on The Bush Administration’s enthusiasm for state-level initiatives on climate policy:

I would like to highlight the efforts being made by State and local governments in the United States to address climate change. Geographically, the United States encompasses vast and diverse climatic zones representative of all major regions of the world — polar, temperate, semi-tropical, and tropical — with different heating, cooling, and transportation needs and with different energy endowments. Such diversity allows our State and local governments to act as laboratories where new and creative ideas and methods can be applied and shared with others and inform federal policy — a truly bottom-up approach to addressing global climate change.

At the State level, 40 of our 50 States have prepared GHG inventories, 27 States have completed climate change action plans, and 8 States have adopted voluntary GHG emissions goals. In addition, 13 States have adopted “Renewable Portfolio Standards” requiring electricity generators to gradually increase the portion of electricity produced from renewable resources such as wind, biomass, geothermal, and solar energy. And, at the local level, more than 140 local governments participating in the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign are developing cost-effective GHG reduction plans, setting goals, and reducing GHG emissions

Yesterday, EPA’s Steven Johnson explains why the Bush Administration is now opposed to state by state efforts to innovate:

“The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution — not a confusing patchwork of state rules,” Mr. Johnson told reporters on a conference call. “I believe this is a better approach than if individual states were to act alone.”

Climate policy needs more not less opportunities to learn from implementation. The Bush Administration’s inconsistent actions are not only ham-handed politics, but just bad policy, whatever one’s views on climate change, energy policy, or partisan politics.

H/T DotEarth

One Response to “Laboratories of Democracy? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Laboratories of Democracy”

  1. David B. Benson Says: