Carbon emissions are 30% lower since the very successful cap-and-trade program began in the Northeast in 2008, but now that program may be in jeopardy.
As The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) prepares to reset its emissions cap – the amount of carbon power plants are allowed to emit – there are proposals to raise – rather than lower the cap.
Raising the cap, of course, would allow emissions to rise again. The reason for the program in the first place is to lower the cap as emissions come down, to bring them down further.
Some are now arguing that the rise of natural gas makes emissions caps unnecessary because that’s reduced the use of oil and coal across the Northeast.
Efforts to roll back RGGI are fueled by Americans for Prosperity, a corporate front group bankrolled by the nation’s leading polluters, including Koch Industries. ALEC provides the legislative template, State Withdrawal from Regional Climate Initiatives.
Last year, a judge dismissed a lawsuit designed to force New York to leave the pact and Americans for Prosperity also tried (unsuccessfully) to get New Hampshire, Maine and Delaware to exit the RGGI through the legislative process.
Advocates know that RGGI is an important growth engine for these states. Since 2008, $1.6 billion has been generated in economic value for the 10 states and 16,000 jobs have been created. Most of the windfall has been spent on energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
Renewable Portfolio Standards Under Attack
State Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are also under attack. As we reported a few months ago, ALEC has prioritized the elimination of state efforts to move toward renewable energy.
We’re now seeing them taking action in a number of states to repeal their RPS.
Virginia is pursuing legislation that would repeal the law that requires an RPS – that utilities source a certain percentage of energy from renewables by a target date.
“Today we declared ‘game on’ in our fight for clean energy,” says Glen Besa, Director of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter. “Virginians know that the impacts of climate change will only get worse the further we fall behind in developing our state’s abundant wind and solar power resources. Legislators can count on today’s protest as the first of many if they do nothing to encourage clean energy and address climate change.”
North Carolina wants to freeze the RPS at current levels – 3% renewables by 2012, which is meager at best.
Missouri is considering a bill (HB44) that would allow existing hydropower power plants to count as renewable energy, which would mean the state’s meager 15% RPS would be met – no solar or wind needed.
Last week in Ohio, the Public Utilities Commission rejected the utility’s proposed 50 MW solar project, Turning Point solar farm, which would be the biggest solar plant east of the Rockies.
And that’s after a new factory opened in Ohio to supply the project with solar panels. They were planning to hire 300 people, mostly veterans. And the solar farm would have hired 650 people.