Greens convene Midwestern leaders for collaboration

Source: Benjamin Storrow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Environmentalists hosted state officials from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin in Chicago today, in a bid to jump-start regional climate efforts in the Midwest.

The purpose of the gathering is to identify common challenges and areas for potential collaboration, said Josh Mogerman, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of four environmental groups hosting the meeting.

“We’re convening a space for them to talk about climate action that is underway in their states and to amplify the big impacts that they’re already having,” Mogerman said. “They are all facing similar sorts of infrastructure and policy challenges. Being able to talk to folks in other administrations about how they’re dealing with it is extremely important.”

A list of the state officials participating in the gathering was not immediately available. The Midwest Environmental Justice Network, Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters served as the other environmental hosts.

The meeting came as greens attempt to plot a path forward after Democrats retook governorships in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin last fall. All three states recently joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a state coalition dedicated to the goals of the Paris climate accord.

Yet their path is complicated. Republicans, who control the legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin, have thus far shown little support for programs to cut greenhouse gases (Climatewire, Feb. 13).

The Midwest was once a hotbed for climate policy. Six states and the Canadian province of Manitoba announced a plan to form a regional cap-and-trade program in 2007. It never came to fruition (Climatewire, Feb. 28, 2018). Republicans swept to power in the following years, putting climate policy in the region on hold.