Kitzhaber joins western governors in a call to put a price on carbon

Kitzhaber joins western governors in a call to put a price on carbon
Governor Kitzhaber of Oregon. File image

In a joint statement with the other regional leaders who make up the Pacific Coast Collaborative, Gov. John Kitzhaber joined a call that supports a price on carbon.

While the statement itself, issued Wednesday, is far from controversial, it represents the first time the political leaders of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia have voiced support for putting some kind of financial mechanism in place to reduce the region's reliance on carbon.

The leaders — British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire along with Kitzhaber — convened in San Francisco this week at the GreenBuild 2012 Conference. The purpose of the meeting was to check in on the progress of the group's action plan to accelerate the region's clean economy, which was announced in March.

"We must better account for the environmental impacts associated with using fossil fuels that are detrimental to the health and well-being of our communities — and future generations," the joint statement declared.

"We must also look at how best to consider and then account for the cost of carbon and our costly reliance on carbon-intensive energy sources," it read. "California’s cap-and-trade program, which launches today, and British Columbia’s carbon tax are two examples of tools that help more accurately price energy resources and continue the transition to a 21st century energy infrastructure."

The joint statement coincided with the landmark launch of California's cap-and-trade system, which opened its auction Wednesday. There were no significant carbon price changes on the opening day.

"We strongly applaud Gov. Kitzhaber and other western leaders for their commitment to build out the clean energy economy," said Andrea Durbin, executive director of the Oregon Environmental Council, in a statement. "As the polls show, Oregonians agree that it's time to take serious steps to curb climate change and that means putting a price on carbon pollution. Our region needs to proactively address the root of climate change, especially in the wake of the recent extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy."

Earlier in the week, Kitzhaber asked leaders in Washington, D.C., to extend the federal Production Tax Credit, an important incentive for the wind energy industry.