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Global warming focus of governors

Chet Brokaw
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DEADWOOD, S.D. ” The Western Governors’ Association will focus on global warming, ways to produce cleaner energy and reducing the impact of climate change, the group’s new chairman, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, said Tuesday.

The association wrapped up a three-day conference after hearing from two experts who explained some of the ways global warming will harm the environment and what can be done to reduce it. Much of the conference dealt with proposals for reducing the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

“I think it’s clear to anyone who has been at this conference and other conferences that this is the issue of our time,” Freudenthal said. “It makes no sense for us to ignore what is essentially a 900-pound gorilla on the public policy basis.”



Freudenthal, who succeeds South Dakota’s Mike Rounds as head of the association, said climate change will be emphasized during his one-year term as chairman. The group’s new vice chairman, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, is next in line to chair the association and said he also wants to focus on the subject.

The governors said the western United States has a big stake in global warming, its effects and plans to reduce climate change. Western states now produce much oil and coal, which emit carbon dioxide.



During the annual meeting, the governors discussed ways to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by a process known as carbon sequestration.

That involves capturing the carbon at the power plant, piping it to another location and pumping it underground for long-term storage so it does not enter the atmosphere.

The group also heard experts talk about the prospects of using solar thermal power plants and wind generators to produce electricity. The West is considered a good place to locate wind and solar plants.



Huntsman said the response to climate change is probably the most important effort in the West since railroad lines were finished to the West Coast in 1869. If the West finds the best solutions, its residents, water and air will benefit, he said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the governors asked experts whether scientists are sure global warming is actually occurring.

Christopher Field, director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, said all nations agreed with a recent report on global warming.

“With the exception of some sort of fringe organizations, there’s no reputable scientific body that questions the core understanding of the way humans are changing the climate,” Field said.

Field said the United States now produces about 20-25 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, but the largest growth is in the rapidly expanding economies of China and India. The United States may be able to come up with technology to help the world deal with the problem, he said.

“The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones. The fossil fuel age won’t end because we run out of fossil fuel. It’s going to end because we have new technologies,” Field said.


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