|NEW YORK - A plan by nine Northeastern states to create a carbon dioxide emissions market similar to Europe's should not be hindered by the decision of its main proponent, New York Gov. George Pataki, to not seek a fourth term in 2006.|
Pataki invited other governors in 2003 to help develop a cap-and-trade program on carbon emissions from power plants in in a program called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
He announced late last month that he would not run for governor again, and his term ends at the end of the year.
"RGGI continues to be one the highest priorities (of Pataki) because of the long term effects and benefits for the environment and public health," said Mike Frazier, spokesman for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Not everyone is certain RGGI will survive after its leader leaves the governorship.
"I have my doubts just because Pataki ... is on his way out and he has been one that has kind of trumpeted this," said Andrew Ertel, president and chief executive of Evolution Markets LLC, a coal and greenhouse gas emissions broker in New York.
"I'm 50/50 on whether RGGI will go forward," he said.
The United States dropped out of the 140-nation-strong Kyoto Protocol, which calls on developed countries to trim carbon emissions and sets up such markets. So, Northeastern states are hoping to create markets of their own.
A similar group of states in the West is also planning to set up a carbon dioxide market and together both sets of states hope to bring the entire country into a carbon dioxide market.
In cap-and-trade programs, power plants that don't wish to, or can't, cut emissions under set limits must buy credits from companies who have trimmed emissions.
Carbon dioxide is the most prevalent of the greenhouse gases that scientists believe warm the Earth, causing flooding risks to low-lying nations and industries such as agriculture and tourism.
Story by Timothy Gardner
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE