Governor Gets His White House Climate Confab

Our Governor is a hard man to ignore. Less than a month ago, he and eleven other U.S. governors wrote a letter to the new President, reminding him of commitments he made to work in earnest with states on climate issues. Governor Schwarzenegger specifically recalled a line from President (then-elect) Obama’s remarks to the Governors’ Climate Summit last November: “Any governor willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House.”

The January letter (this link is a .pdf download) requested a meeting with top-level members of the White House environmental team “as soon as possible…to discuss a state-federal partnership on clean energy and climate change issues.” This weekend the governors got their meeting.

The President didn’t show up but at least four high-level players did, including energy secretary Steven Chu, interior secretary Ken Salazar, EPA chief Lisa Jackson and the President’s energy and climate deputy, Carol Browner.

While no substantive announcements came out of it, Governor Schwarzenegger said afterward:

“Today’s meeting was the first step in creating a close and lasting partnership with President Obama and his administration on climate change. I look forward to working hand-in-hand with our federal partners to realize the ambitious clean energy and climate change goals I know we share, and that I know will provide a boost to our nation’s economy.”

Some remain skeptical that the path back to prosperity is paved with Green. California’s governor has been a vocal cheerleader for just such a strategy, to tackle both environmental and economic challenges.

The governors’ group’s stated goals include aggressive programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harnessing “market mechanisms” (read that: “cap-and-trade”) to fund development of clean energy technology. They also want to “preserve and enhance state and local authority” in the regulation arena, and stave off “federal preemption” of what the states have already started.