Govs Punt on Global Warming
By Pamela M. Prah, Staff Writer
|A Year of Rendell-isms?|
If this weekend is any indication, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) will provide plenty of humor during his year at the helm of the National Governors Association. Here's a sampling from the centennial celebration:
Gavel to Gavel
Outgoing NGA Chairman and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) and Rendell share many things, including having wives who are or were judges. Rendell presented Pawlenty with a gavel of his own, noting. "I've always wanted a gavel to match my wife's."
Dancing With the Govs
After accepting the NGA chairmanship, Rendell remarked that Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was the first governor to dance during the previous night's entertainment that included live performances by Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell and the only governor to do the electric slide, "thereby scratching her" from the list of possible vp candidates for John McCain.
Look Out Buckeyes
Journalist and moderator Cokie Roberts remarked during the July 12 centennial celebration that in Europe, people tend to refer to their state as a "country" and asked Rendell what he would do if Pennsylvania were a country. Rendell promptly replied: "Oh, probably invade Ohio."
PHILADELPHIA - Congress and the White House aren't the only ones who can't agree on a comprehensive energy plan. Neither can the nation's governors.
The National Governors Association is expected to conclude its centennial meeting today (July 14) by urging Congress anew to extend tax breaks that encourage the use of more wind and solar power and energy-efficient buildings, but the governors were too far apart on whether to tackle global warming.
"When we got down to the details, we started to act like Congress, and that's bad," said Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D). Schweitzer said many governors were frustrated that NGA Chairman and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's (R) "bold" energy proposal fell to the wayside.
Pawlenty conceded that while some regions are going forward with proposals to reduce greenhouse gases, "deep differences" existed among the states.
"It's not something that the NGA will probably address on a consensus basis," he said in an interview with Stateline.org.
The governors are not divided along party lines. Governors of both parties agree that the country needs to rely less on foreign oil and develop more renewable energy sources, but the costs of regulating greenhouse gases worry states that produce oil and coal, which emit greenhouse gases when burned.
"I'm concerned about the well-being of the families in my state and my state's economy and the national economy," said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), who said efforts to mitigate climate change would make $4-a-gallon gasoline go even higher.
Both the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, John McCain and Barack Obama, have "cap-and-trade" proposals that allow companies to buy and sell greenhouse gas pollutant credits.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), who will be named NGA chair at the conclusion of the meeting, said despite the frustrations, "it's time to look forward" and work with the next president on energy and other issues.
"I can't recall a time when the next president is faced with problems of such magnitude," he said, including the economy, the war in Iraq, health care and energy.
The governors may be moving closer to asking Congress and the next president for an outright repeal of the federal Real ID law, which aims to make driver's licenses more secure. During a July 13 private lunch, the governors discussed several options for dealing with the law that will require states to verify the identities of all 245 million drivers.
"We are not going to support a national ID foisted upon us," said Schweitzer, whose state is among 10 that passed laws refusing to comply with Real ID.
Presidential politics was the buzz of many private conversations among the 70 former and current governors attending the centennial meeting amid tight security. Reporters often asked Pawlenty and other governors whether the McCain and Obama camps had "vetted" them yet as potential vice presidential candidates. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter jokingly welcomed attendees by noting, "I don't want to be considered vice president."
Earlier in the conference, former governor-turned-U.S. president Bill Clinton July 12 urged governors to provide for the next president and Congress a proposal to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law, President Bush's signature domestic achievement, which Clinton said helped only about 10 percent of the lowest-performing students and hindered others.
Clinton also called on more governors to follow the lead of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and reduce childhood obesity by bringing healthier lunches and more exercise to schools. He also urged states to go after pay-day lending operations, whose short-term, high-interest loans hit the poor the hardest, he said. Clinton said there are more check-cashing and payday lending operations in the United States than all the McDonalds and Starbucks worldwide.
Clinton said the best part about being governor is "moving beyond party to policy, in the cause of changes in the lives of real people."
When the meeting concludes July 14, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R) is expected to be named vice chair. Rendell is targeting improving the nation's infrastructure during his year as NGA chair, an issue he has already spotlighted with the " Building America's Future " campaign he kicked off earlier this year with Schwarzenegger and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Fixing the nation's critical infrastructure will cost an estimated $1.6 trillion.