Maryland Joins States Breaking With Bush on CO2
President George W. Bush opposes forcing emitters to limit production of the gases that most scientists believe cause global warming. He favors voluntary methods of reducing them.
Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican, signed an act on Thursday that requires the state to join the pact, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Seven states agreed to the pact late last year: New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and Delaware. It aims to cap carbon dioxide emissions from power plants at 1990 levels beginning in 2009, and cut emissions 10 percent below that level by 2018.
Of the eight RGGI states, Maryland had the second-highest level of CO2 emissions per person in 2000, behind Delaware, according to Environment Northeast. It also had the second-highest CO2 emissions, behind New York.
Maryland's move came as a surprise to many who have worked on the RGGI for years.
"The fact that a governor who had never done much about global warming signed this bill is a sign this is becoming an important political issue for many states," said a source at a nongovernmental organization who advises the RGGI.
Business groups have said the RGGI could push up electricity prices. However, the states in the pact say it could eventually push bills lower, after initially adding a few dollars a year to them, through efficiency gains at utilities.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, withdrew from the pact shortly before the seven states signed the agreement last year, saying it would boost power prices.
But Democratic politicians in the state have said they are confident they can overrule that decision.
The RGGI aims to put out in July a final draft of the plan, which will then be sent to the individual states to approve it.