LOS ANGELES A cap-and-trade program planned for the Western United States and Canada could prolong the economic recession and chase high technology investment to other regions, according to a new study commissioned by a group of business leaders.
The Western Business Roundtable's study criticized a plan by seven states and four Canadian provinces to establish the biggest carbon market in the Western hemisphere in 2012.
Resistance to national carbon-cutting goals by former President George W. Bush prompted the creation of the Western Climate Initiative, which is spearheaded by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
According to the study, the WCI plan could weaken the West's already overburdened power grids by deploying intermittent power sources such as wind farms and solar plants too rapidly. It would also increase energy costs, harming low- income and minority families, the study said.
"Economic growth is closely tied to availability of affordable energy and a stable and reliable energy infrastructure," Jim Sims, Chief Executive of the Western Business Roundtable and chairman of Colorado-based lobbying firm Policy Communications Inc, said in a statement.
"Carbon management policies must balance environmental goals with the demands of economic recovery and job creation."
The Western Business Roundtable also said its analysis, conducted by Management Information Services Inc, showed the plan would deliver a temperature benefit of just one ten- thousandth of a degree Celsius after a century of operation.
Environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council criticized the study, saying it "ignores the West's potential to drive job growth and economic opportunity with renewable energy and energy efficiency."