Schwarzenegger urges parties to collaborate on climate change

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 1, 2013

Former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger urged Congress to work together toward solutions to curb climate change at an event to honor his leadership on the issue.

Schwarzenegger, a Republican, told ClimateWire that he kept partisan politics separate from his work to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“I would never, ever make politics an issue when talking about environmental issues,” he said. “I hope that the United States, that the Republicans and Democrats would get together and come up with a really sound energy and environmental policy for the future.”

“Eventually, all of these huge challenges will be overcome if we work together,” he added. “If they don’t, it won’t happen.”

Many Republicans, as well as some Democrats from coal-producing states like West Virginia and Kentucky, have consistently attacked President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which centers on U.S. EPA regulations to cut carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) unveiled a draft bill this week that would curtail EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases

The bill would prevent the agency from considering carbon capture and storage a viable option for reducing emissions from future coal-fired power plants and require EPA to consider different standards for different types of coal (E&E Daily, Oct. 29).

Longtime congressional climate advocate Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) called the bill “scientific lunacy.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced proposed carbon standards for new power plants last month that cap natural gas plants at 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour and coal plants at 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.

‘Don’t wait for anyone else to do it’

Schwarzenegger pushed action at a regional level when national and international efforts to cut greenhouse gases stalled (ClimateWire, Sept. 23).

“I think we can do a bottom-up approach, since all great movements have really started on the grass-roots level,” he said. “I always encourage local governments, ‘Don’t wait for anyone else to do it for you.'”

EPA’s upcoming regulations on existing power plants — the counterpart to the agency’s rules on future plants — will rely heavily on state input. The agency has launched an 11-city tour to listen to local input on how states can formulate plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions through a variety of means, including shifting from coal to natural gas, increasing renewable energy options, or improving energy efficiency (ClimateWire, Oct. 2).

Agency representatives met in Denver yesterday and will meet in Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Lenexa, Kan.; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

Schwarzenegger’s climate legacy includes the sweeping Global Warming Solutions Act (A.B. 32), which set in motion the state’s carbon cap-and-trade program and the low carbon fuel standard to reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector through alternative fuels. These efforts were passed to bring the state’s emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020.

He founded the R20-Regions of Climate Action group in 2010, a coalition of county- and state-level governments around the world that have committed to implementing action to cut emissions. He recently met with the prime minister of Algeria to establish an R20 office in the country.

The Forest Service yesterday held a ceremony to make Schwarzenegger an honorary forest ranger. Schwarzenegger joins actress Betty White and former Rolling Stones and Allman Brothers Band musician Chuck Leavell as the third person to be named an honorary ranger by the Forest Service. Schwarzenegger will narrate a section on forests in an upcoming documentary directed by James Cameron (E&ENews PM, Oct. 30).

“We look forward to having your help on educating communities on the impact on a changing climate, especially the impacts on our forests and grasslands,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Governor, you have been a true global leader in our fight against climate change.”