For years, while people around the country (indeed, the world) have called for strong federal action on climate change, states including California and NJ have taken the lead and implemented a wide variety of laws and programs.
Ironically, as Congress finally begins debating what to do about global warming, there's a risk now that federal action could undermine some of these local actions, and a number of state and local officials went to Washington this week to help assure this wont happen.
Seattle Mayor Greg Nichols, NJ Governor John Corzine and others told a Senate Committee that the feds could help most by providing money for research and implementing broad guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Nichols also said Congress should pass a plan "that calls for a hard and declining cap on emissions and allows for carbon trading among entities."
Local officials warned, however, that Congress should not pass legislation that would undercut aggressive state and local programs. This could happen because when Congress acts in a particular area, that law sometimes preempts any similar or conflicting state law. If Congress sets lower standards than exist in a state, for example, the federal standards might govern.
After years of largely ignoring the issue, Congress has been moving aggressively to draft global warming legislation, and Thursday's hearing was designed to examine local programs that might contribute to federal legislation. Twenty-nine states have already passed legislation limiting greenhouse gases, and 409 mayors have signed a climate-protection agreement. On Monday, the governors of Washington, California, Oregon, Arizona and New Mexico announced a regional agreement on climate change.
For more info see: "Nickels warns U.S. Senate to not rein in cities fighting global warming".