New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers recently passed six resolutions including one that calls for them to work cooperatively to support the increased use of alternative fuel vehicles and networks within the region.
The leaders met over two days at the 37th Annual Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP) to discuss themes of common interest regarding clean energy like hydropower; greater use of energy efficient vehicles; climate change; railway transportation; and mutual assistance in the event of an emergency, according to a Sept. 10 statement from Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who served as the conference’s co-chair.
Chafee said the leaders “reminded each other how important it is to work across jurisdictional lines to ensure the best possible outcomes.”
In the resolution on alternative fuel vehicles, the governors and premiers directed members of the Environment, Energy and Transportation and Air Quality Committees to work together, and with other regional organizations engaged in electric vehicle (EV) recharging and alternative refueling networks to compile an inventory of regional initiatives regarding electric and natural gas-powered vehicles; propose actions aimed at facilitating the interoperability of EV charging and alternative refueling infrastructure; and identify road corridors where this type of infrastructure could be deployed, with a view to promoting the use of electric and alternative fuel vehicles and facilitating travel throughout the region for the users of such vehicles.
“[E]merging transportation technologies such as vehicle electrification, the use of natural gas as a fuel, and various technologies designed to enhance the energy efficiency of vehicles and reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants generate significant benefits for users in terms of reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, lower fuel consumption, improved air quality, and at the same time contribute to the region’s economic development and tourism,” the resolution stated.
Another resolution calls for the leaders to reaffirm their commitment to provide assistance as needed to other International Emergency Management Group (IEMG) member jurisdictions that would require intergovernmental cooperation. The NEG/ECP will ensure the continued use of the existing compact and its complementary mechanisms to strengthen partnerships and exchange of information to achieve the strategic implementation of emergency management systems and the activation of IEMG resources to emergencies or disasters, according to the resolution.
The leaders also passed a resolution that calls for the NEG/ECP to accept the “2013 Regional Climate Change Action Plan: Strategic Overview” and tasks the environmental secretaries, commissioners and ministers to develop a strategic near-term work plan to be presented to the governors and premiers by the 39th NEG/ECP conference. The work plan will take into account the evolving knowledge and technologies in that area and will be consistent with the near- and long-term regional emission reduction goals.
The NEG/ECP adopted the “NEG/ECP Climate Change Action Plan” in 2001, the first ever regional partnership to address climate change, and unanimously agreed on regional GHG emission targets for 2010, 2020 and 2050, the resolution added.
According to the 1990-2011 regional GHG inventory, the NEG/ECP confirms that it has surpassed its 2010 GHG emission reduction target of reducing the emissions to 1990 levels in 2010 and the region is already almost a quarter of the way toward its 2020 goal. That objective was achieved while the region’s GDP grew by 54% and the population by more than 10% from 1990 to 2011, the resolution added.
“[R]ecent extreme weather events highlight the fact that the region needs to continue to reduce its GHG emissions and to adapt to climate change extremes, increase public safety and reduce the social and economic costs of climate change,” the resolution stated.
Also, the leaders passed a resolution that noted that the NEG/ECP continues to support opportunities for the expansion of clean energy consistent with providing customers with reliable electric service at the lowest societal cost over the long term consistent with environmental objectives.
The NEG/ECP acknowledges that the New England states have undertaken analyses to assess the relative costs and benefits associated with various means to address natural gas market issues and incremental low-carbon energy import opportunities, and recognizes the ongoing leadership of the Eastern Canadian provinces in introducing new clean energy resources for both domestic and export markets.
The resolution calls for the NEG/ECP to affirm its support for the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) effort to advance a regionally coordinated competitive procurement process, including effective engagement of the Eastern Canadian provinces, as appropriate, given the parties’ potential roles as buyers and sellers in this process.
In a Sept. 9 statement, Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan said, “Large hydro plays an important role in our regional energy mix, and we are actively working to increase our utilization of this low carbon resource in tandem with other large scale renewable energy resources like wind and solar energy.”
In a separate Sept. 9 statement, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, who will host the conference next year, said, “Our regional partnerships will be critical as we work to build a more innovative economic future and attract new companies with good jobs that can support a strong and growing middle class.”
In another Sept. 9 statement, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said: “From energy, to transportation, to reciprocal emergency assistance, everything we passed recognizes the common goal of lowering our region’s greenhouse gas emissions. These initiatives will not only benefit the environment and air we breathe, they will help spur greater economic development and improve our shared infrastructure.”
The conference is an inter-regional, bi-national, trans-border organization established in 1973 in recognition of the special bond that exists between the six New England states and the five Eastern Canadian provinces, according to Chafee’s statement.