The Western Climate Initiative is Dead, Long Live the WCI

The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) has quietly ended its nearly four-year experiment with a regional economy-wide cap and trade scheme. Arizona announced its formal withdrawal from the WCI, and five other states have done so informally. That leaves California as the only western state remaining in the WCI, along with four Canadian provinces -- British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. The WCI's website noted the transition more by omission than direct announcement; its partner list no longer shows Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Utah. While the demise of the WCI has been forecast for some time, the formal announcement by Arizona brings one chapter to a close and raises questions about the next.

In the Beginning

WCI launched in February 2007 when the governors of California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon and New Mexico agreed to "collaborate in identifying, evaluating and implementing ways to reduce GHG emissions and achieve related co-benefits." Soon Utah, British Columbia and Manitoba signed on as full partners and they were joined by official observers from six other western states, three Canadian provinces and one Mexican state. The WCI's goal was to reduce emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, with a regional cap and trade program as the centerpiece. Unlike the northeastern states' Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), whose cap and trade scheme is limited to emissions from power plants, the WCI's was intended to be economy-wide.

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