Arizona Pulls Out of Regional Cap and Trade

Published February 12, 2010

Arizona will decline to implement carbon dioxide restrictions under a regional cap-and-trade system, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality has announced. The decision, which took effect under an executive order signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), reverses pledges made by former Governor Janet Napolitano (D).

Under Napolitano, Arizona was a founding member of the Western Climate Initiative, which in 2007 joined seven states and four Canadian provinces in pledging to force the state’s citizens and businesses to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Napolitano’s decision bucked the sentiment of Arizona legislators, who frequently expressed frustration and opposition to Napolitano’s decision.

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Benjamin Grumbles explained the state’s change in course as a commitment to address global warming concerns without punishing the state’s economy.

“Arizona needs a green-and-grow approach rather than a cap-and-trade approach,” said Grumbles.

Still in WCI
Although Arizona will not implement Western Climate Initiative cap-and-trade restrictions, the state will remain a member of the regional group.

“It’s very important for the state to stay engaged, to be at the table, but it’s also important to convey clearly our position on how to make progress,” said Grumbles. “Right now, given the economic downturn, given the complexity of the cap-and-trade scheme being developed, we’re not going to be supportive of it.”

Brewer Gains Legislative Support
Pamela Gorman, who recently served as majority whip in the state Senate and is now running for Congress in Arizona’s third district, praised Brewer’s decision.
“At a time when jobs are increasingly scarce in Arizona and people are just barely hanging on in their personal finances, [the Western Climate Initiative’s] shortsighted energy policy would further shrink our economy and increase energy costs on everyone in our state,” Gorman said. “Arizona entrepreneurs, small businesses, and workers shouldn’t need permission from another state to produce, grow, and create jobs. Gov. Brewer did the right thing by Arizona in refusing to abide by the dictates of WCI.”

‘De Facto Inflation’
Gorman said carbon dioxide restrictions would raise prices on goods and services throughout Arizona’s economy.

“Arizonans, and particularly vulnerable senior citizens, don’t have the luxury of simply turning off their air conditioners when summer temperatures soar. But beyond cooling our homes, families would face increasing costs on not only energy but all products, because they all require energy to make them. The cap-and-trade restrictions would have created a de facto inflation on every product Arizonan’s purchase,” said Gorman.

“Driving business out of the state to places where energy costs are affordable should never be the aim of state government,” Gorman explained. “I’m glad Gov. Brewer recognized this fact and refused to fall in line on this wayward policy.”

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.