State regulators designing a western regional cap-and-trade market for carbon dioxide emissions pledged to solicit input from stakeholders and the public, and make decisions in the open October 31 after non-governmental organizations and others questioned why they had been excluded from the deliberations. \u201cWe\u2019re trying to find a balance between an aggressive timetable to be done by August 2008 and providing transparency for stakeholder participation,\u201d said David Van\u2019t Hof , the Oregon Governor\u2019s Office sustainability adviser. The initiative partners presented their work plan for designing a carbon cap-and-trade market by August 2008 during an October 31 conference call. The work plan includes design principles, issues for stakeholder input, and a timeline and milestones for recommendations. It also is to include work plans for each of the five Western Climate Initiative subcommittees on reporting, scoping, electricity, allocations, and offsets. Stakeholders concerns revolved around public participation in designing the regional cap-and-trade program; consensus; verifications of greenhouse gas offsets; and reconciling differences between individual member states\u2019 climate change programs so the Western Climate Initiative does not gravitate toward the weakest program. They also raised concerns about the process for integrating water, energy, and other environmental issues. Louis Blumberg, director of California Forest Policy for Nature Conservancy in San Francisco, asked how the panel\u2019s decision-making process will reconcile differences between member states\u2019 climate plans \u201cso the outcome isn\u2019t a race to the bottom?\u201d In response, Michael Gibbs, California Environmental Protection Agency assistant secretary, pledged that the Western Climate Initiative would seek stakeholder and public input once it determines an appropriate economic analysis on which to establish the cap- and-trade program. State officials added there would be ample opportunity for non-governmental organizations and others to participate through workshops in member states, conference calls, and through the initiative\u2019s interactive website. In February, the governors of Washington, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, and California signed an agreement creating the initiative to design and implement a multi-sector market-based system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Utah, British Columbia, and Alberta have since joined as partners, while Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Wyoming, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the Mexican State of Sonora have official observer status. The initiative plans to expand to include other states, provinces, and Indian tribes. Its goal is to achieve a region-wide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Each of the partners has joined the newly-formed Climate Registry which the WCI intends to utilize as a reporting and accounting system for tracking greenhouse gas emissions. Editors\u2019 note: For more details on the Western Climate Initiative, see the story in our sister publication E=MC2 \u2013 Energy Meets Climate Challenge. You can find it at www.energymeetsclimate.com.