Earlier this month key legislative committees in Delaware and Maine as well as the New Hampshire Senate voted to reject efforts by fossil fuel interests to pull the states out of the northeast’s landmark carbon trading system.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – the only cap-and-trade system in the US – was adopted in 2005 by 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. It has been successful not only in reducing global warming emissions from power plants, but also in channeling funds to clean energy projects in those states.
Efforts to roll back RGGI is being fueled by Americans for Prosperity, a Washington DC- based corporate front group bankrolled by some of the nation’s leading polluters, including Koch Industries; who have been aggressively supporting nationwide efforts to eliminate key environmental safeguards.
“State leaders in the RGGI states know that it has been an important element of their states’ plans to shift to clean energy and reduce pollution from fossil fuels,” says Rob Sargent, Energy Program Director for Environment America, a federation of state environmental organizations. “Thoughtful decision makers saw through the misleading information from out- of- state fossil fuel interests and voted to reject efforts to scuttle this important program.”
In New Hampshire, the state Senate rejected the House’s proposal to withdraw from RGGI and voted 16-8 to support the state’s continued involvement.
“Despite the outlandish claims from out- of- state groups like Americans for Prosperity, the RGGI program has provided very real benefits for New Hampshire, helping us save energy and reduce pollution from fossil fuels” says Jessica O’Hare, Environment New Hampshire. “We commend all the New Hampshire officials who have voted to keep New Hampshire in the program.”
According to a report done for the NH Public Utilities Commission, the initial round of RGGI investments from July 2009 to June 2010 would yield a lifetime energy savings of more than $60 million and avoid nearly 200,000 tons of carbon pollution.
In Maine, the Joint Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology unanimously voted to keep Maine in the program.
Similarly, in Delaware, the House Energy committee voted 4-3 rejecting a bill to remove the state from RGGI.