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Press Release


Eleven Governors May Have Unknowingly Given Tax Dollars to Cap-and-Trade Project they Shunned, Analysis Shows

For Immediate Release June 18, 2009
Pete Sepp, (703) 683-5700

(Alexandria, VA) -- State taxpayer dollars may have been diverted by the staff of the Western Governors Association (WGA) -- against the wishes of many WGA Governors -- to help pay for a climate tax scheme written largely by California environmental activists that would dramatically increase families' energy costs, according to the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). NTU has sent all Western Governors a letter on the findings of its investigation, which raised "serious questions about the use of taxpayer funds in this effort from states that did not agree to partner" in the project.

The several-month investigation was based on voluminous documents released by the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Paul Chesser of the non-profit Climate Strategies Watch (CSW). CSW subsequently made the information available to NTU.

"As an organization that receives tax dollars from both state and federal sources, WGA has a responsibility to operate with full transparency and public disclosure in terms of its fiscal activities, where it receives its funding and how and where it spends those funds," NTU President Duane Parde wrote to the Governors. "According to these documents ... WGA actively aligned itself with this effort and became intimately involved in a support role for the WCI's mission and objectives. It is difficult to see how tax dollars from non-WCI states did not subsidize this process."

WCI is a collaborative effort among the Governors of California plus Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington that spent the last year-and-a-half developing a proposed Western regional carbon "cap-and-trade" scheme. While the work of the WCI was done in the name of those states' Governors, the WCI process was heavily influenced, and funded in part, by large "corporate-style" environmental groups and foundations.

NTU's investigation uncovered a wide range of evidence that the WCI was largely run by staff of the Western Governors' Association, even though the majority of states in the WGA (Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming), specifically elected not to endorse the use of their tax dollar contributions in the project.

Even if it hasn't publicly sanctioned WCI on behalf of all its members, Parde argued that WGA's "deep involvement in the process gives the impression of the organization's support for the research, modeling methodologies and policy recommendations that have emerged from WCI's activities."

"Consistent with our ongoing mission and history, we suggest that both WGA and WCI release to the public all relevant legal, operational, financial and supporting documents relevant to WCI's activities and any support WGA gave them," Parde's letter concluded.

NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizen organization founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, accountability from public officials, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: NTU's letter to Western Governors on the WCI is available online at www.ntu.org.

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  • NTU's letter to the Western Governors' Association is available here.
  • The Western Governors' Association replies to NTU (PDF).
  • NTU responds to letter from Western Governors' Association (PDF).