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On July 27, 2010, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) released the Final Design for its regional cap-and-trade program. Formed in 2007, the WCI is a partnership between seven states and four Canadian provinces aimed at reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions. The WCI and other regional greenhouse gas reduction programs have recently taken on renewed prominence in light of Congress’ stalled efforts to establish a comprehensive federal emission trading program.

The stated purpose of the WCI is to identify, evaluate and implement ways to collectively reduce greenhouse gases. The initiative 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.

The initiative includes two types of membership: partners and observers.

The partners are: Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec

The observers are Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Wyoming, Saskatchewan (which objects to WCI plans for a cap and trade system), and the Mexican states of Baja California, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Sonora, and Tamaulipas.

The sustained economic downturn has withered state-level support for the WCI and cast doubt over the extent to which the program will be implemented by WCI’s January 2012 deadline. Some member states have expressly withdrawn support for the program, while others have indicated that they will not have regulations in place necessary to meet the January 1, 2012, implementation deadline. Nonetheless, the Final Design represents the clearest and most detailed articulation of an alternative to comprehensive federal climate change regulation. (Marten Law, FULL ARTICLE)