Utah is the latest state to announce that it will not participate in the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) when the regional cap-and-trade program begins in January 2012. Republican governor Gary Herbert’s office told reporters that the state would not entirely quit the initiative, even though the governor disagreed with some principles favored by it.

The governor’s office cited lack of legislative backing for the initiative, reported The Salt Lake Tribune last week. Utah lawmakers passed resolutions this year and last year urging the governor to pull out of the WCI, citing its potential impact on the economy and consumers.

The regional climate initiative, established in 2007, includes seven states and four Canadian provinces. The coalition requires partners to set an overall regional goal to reduce emissions, develop a market-based, multi-sector mechanism to help achieve that goal, and participate in a cross-border GHG registry.
Utah joins Arizona, Montana, Washington, and Oregon as original members of the seven-member trading program that have signaled their intent not to implement the cap-and-trade program. The remaining members committed at this point to the cap-and-trade program include California, New Mexico, Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

Last month, an executive order issued by Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, directed the state’s Department of Environmental Quality not to adopt rules under the WCI’s cap-and-trade program without legislative authorization—but it stops short of withdrawing the state from the coalition.

Last week, that state’s lawmakers approved a Republican-sponsored bill prohibiting any state agency from implementing a program to regulate greenhouse gases without specific permission from the Legislature. The bill, passed by the Senate, now returns to the House and then to Gov. Jan Brewer for signature.

Sources: Office of Gov. Gary Herbert, The Salt Lake Tribune, WCI, POWERnews