Barry Rabe expects Midwest to refocus on climate issues
With a change of governorships after the midterm elections, one previously passed-over issue is seeing a resurgence. Governors-elect are already showing signs of making climate issues a top-priority in Midwestern states. Daniel Cusick, reporter for E&E News, recently spoke with experts including Ford professor Barry Rabe for the November 9, 2018 piece “Blue wave could bring the Midwest climate band back together.” "It's really way too early to know whether that's going to take form, but you can begin to see the contours and the outlines," Rabe said of the potential for a regional greenhouse gas reduction plan.
Collaboration on climate policy among Midwestern states saw a high point in 2007, with the creation of the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (MGGRA). The bipartisan compact between the governors from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Michigan sought to reduce their carbon footprints as well as create a more efficient energy economy. However, as partisan politics inflamed during and after 2010, this collaboration was lost in the ashes. Now, with Midwestern governorships dominated by democratic representatives who campaigned partly on making climate issues a priority, "some kind of new commitment to accelerate the energy transition” could happen, predicts Rabe.
A new MGGRA would give much-needed administrative support—but not without a concerted effort. "If the band is getting back together,” Rabe said, “it will be with an entirely new set of players, and they will probably be playing different music.”
Barry Rabe is the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor of Public Policy and the director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at the Ford School. He is also the Arthur Thurnau Professor of Environmental Policy and holds courtesy appointments in the Program in the Environment, the Department of Political Science, and the School for Environment and Sustainability. His research examines climate and energy politics and his newest book, Can We Price Carbon? (MIT Press) was released in spring 2018.