(Aside to non-USA readers: my apologies for all the two character state abbreviations, especially NH which here does not mean Northern Hemisphere! RGGI is our Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a Cap and Trade program in the northeast USA.)
I wasn’t expecting to create a full post today after the New Hampshire senate Energy and Natural Resources committee’s public hearing on our RGGI exit bill, but there is enough news to make this post worthwhile.
The Delaware legislature has a bill of their own to get out of RGGI, support is growing in New Jersey, Pennsylvania looked, but decided to stay out of RGGI, and some concerns I had here in New Hampshire have been significantly alleviated.
Delaware: On April 6th, House Bill #86 was introduced and assigned to the Energy committee. Its long title, An Act to Amend Title 7 of the Delaware Code Relating to Terminating the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and CO2 Emission Trading Program, won’t sell many books, but the main section of the bill is a bunch of “Whereas” statements and sums up current understanding pretty well:
WHEREAS, Delaware’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has a goal of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) production; and
WHEREAS, the goal of RGGI is to reduce CO2 emissions by 10% by 2019 from Delaware electrical power plants over 25 megawatts in size; and
WHEREAS, Delaware has already far exceeded the goal of 10% reduction by 2019; and
WHEREAS, changes already in effect have reduced emissions 41%; and
WHEREAS, Delaware’s high cost of electricity is costing approximately $500 per home per year in higher energy costs; and
WHEREAS, employers leave the State or decide not to locate in Delaware due to its 50% higher electricity costs; and
WHEREAS, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Maine are considering terminating; and
WHEREAS, the decade-long effort in Delaware is replaced by increased emissions in China every 68 seconds; and
WHEREAS, program revenues are collected and mostly spent by non-transparent, non-governmental organizations and the loss of this revenue will not significantly impact the State budget; and
WHEREAS, the impact of the energy efficiency improvements of the program are less than 1% of the unsubsidized annual energy efficiency improvements in the general economy attributable to normal market forces.
Good luck to them. The bill has three sponsors and several co-sponsors.
New Jersey: Support for RGGI exit bills has mostly followed party lines. That’s been a bit disappointing, especially in states where RGGI funds have been transferred to the state general fund instead of being reserved for energy conservation and efficiency work. In New Jersey, Democrat State Senator Paul Sarlo publicly announced his co-sponsorship of the repeal effort. Last month, Governor Christie criticized the program saying it may be hurting economic development. He may decide within within a month whether New Jersey should pull out of RGGI. (Christie is one of the governors who redirected RGGI funds to his state’s general fund.)
New Hampshire: I expected the Energy and Natural Resources committee would not vote in favor of our RGGI Exit bill and that two senior republicans would vote against it. One of them, Jeb Bradley, introduced a detailed amendment that replaces the current board that distributes RGGI funds. It also changes the exit strategy from the end of this year to when other states representing at least 10% of the carbon dioxide allowances leave RGGI. I.e. New Jersey leaves, we leave. Until then, we receive RGGI funds for power we purchase from RGGI regulated power plants. RGGI may not survive New Jersey leaving, so this amendment helps to encourage New Jersey, and it means that HB 519 may be passed by the committee next week when they reconvene. (More people wanted to speak at the hearing than there was time, so the committee recessed the hearing until next Thursday at 0900.)
My testimony had a large section on job creation, and compared the low emission sort of jobs RGGI encourages to another program, the NH Innovation Research Center which helps develop new technologies. It could create whole new industries which would require more power and hence make it harder to reach RGGI goals.
With Sen. Bradley’s support, the full senate may have a veto-proof majority.
Maine: I’m unable to confirm this, but Corey R. Lewandowski, th NH State Director of Americans for Prosperity, said Maine has also tapped RGGI funds for offsetting budget shortfalls. That tends to annoy voters so it may add support to Maine’s RGGI Exit bill. Of course, if no one knows about the funds transfer, it won’t have much impact.
Pennsylvania: I’m also unable to confirm this, but Lewandowski said Pennsylvania recently considered joining RGGI, but decided not to join.