RGGI update: New Hampshire likely in, New Jersey likely out. New York sued.

Guest post by Ric Werme

RGGI Region

Ten state RGGI Region

It’s time for an update on the efforts of states interested in leaving RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. RGGI is a Cap and Trade system set up by ten northeastern states to reduce CO2 emissions by 10% by the year 2018. In the past year several states have considered pulling out, see the list of past stories below or see my web pages that cover all the action.

This post updates the recent efforts of the states actively debating whether they should stay or leave. States not mentioned below are staying in RGGI for the foreseeable future.

New Hampshire

I had hoped to have some firm news on New Hampshire because our legislative session ended at the end of June. Things started out well with the House voting with a veto-proof margin to leave RGGI. The senate agreed, but was one vote shy of a veto-proof margin, and since Governor Lynch had announced he would veto the bill, the senate vote wasn’t good enough. Senator Jeb Bradley submitted an alternate bill that kept the state in RGGI but returned most of the CO₂ allowance revenue to the rate payers. While that did get one extra vote in the senate, the house insisted on their bill.

I’ll skip the sausage making period that ensued, it wasn’t pretty and ultimately made no difference. As things stand now, the bill was sent to the governor, he vetoed it, and the legislature is no longer in session. When they return they will talk and possibly have a vote to override the veto. No one is expecting the the senate to change the vote, though I may send members a few Emails over the summer.

New Jersey

New Jersey had a couple bills to withdraw from RGGI, but the governor made them moot when he announced he was withdrawing the state from RGGI. I never knew it was so easy! Apparently the original legislation said the state may join RGGI and that it should do various other things. This allowed Gov. Christie to decide he needn’t keep doing those things, much to the surprise of the legislature.

So other legislators introduced bills to adjust the language of the original to make it require New Jersey be in RGGI and they passed, but not with veto proof majorities. Gov Christie is certain to veto them, and the next step may be in the courts.

Meanwhile Christie has stated there will be no new nuclear and coal based power plants in New Jersey, and emphasized his support for solar and wind projects (and especially off-shore wind). So energy issues will be at the forefront of statewide discussions for some time. Oh, he says no hydrofracking for natural gas development either.

New York

RGGI was the brainchild of Gov. Pataki. He was such a force that he had RGGI headquarters built in New York City (likely the logical place anyway) and committed New York to be in RGGI without enabling legislation.

This little detail has been ignored until late last month when Americans for Prosperity member Lisa Thrun et al filed a lawsuit alleging this violated both the state and federal constitutions.

The state constitution mandates that only the legislative branch can create new taxes in order to give representatives of the state’s citizens a say. The governor can veto the tax, he can’t enact it. Whether “Carbon Dioxide Allowances” constitute a tax is uncertain, but in 2010 Gov Paterson transferred $90 million of RGGI funds to the state’s general fund to help balance the budget. Sounds like a tax….

The federal issue is that states may only create interstate compacts with the consent of the US Congress. RGGI and the region’s states have never asked for Congressional permission. This is a very basic part of US Constitutional Law, and I’m surprised it has taken this long to see it used in a lawsuit. It may be that people who wanted to use it figured Congress would pass enabling legislation before a court wrote an injunction based on it. Oh wait a minute – not only has it been used before, the present case is using a lot of text from a 2009 case – see 2009 WUWT post Electric Utility sues New York over CO₂ regulation.

The case was about the utility griping that the law (err, the rules) didn’t allow them to pass on all the allowance costs in a long term contract the state encouraged them to set up years before RGGI. It was settled with ConEd “volunteering” to purchase allowances much as they did for their own power plants and passing the costs on to the customer. A summary (with link to details) says

According to the proposed settlement, Con Edison (ConEd) will purchase any additional RGGI allowances on behalf of Indeck Corinth that are necessary to cover the plant’s compliance obligation beyond what the plant receives from DEC’s LTC [long-term contracts] allowance set-aside pool. ConEd will make a similar commitment to cover the compliance obligations of two other power plants with which the utility has LTCs (Selkirk Cogen Partners and Brooklyn Navy Yard Cogen Partners). In exchange, Indeck will drop the lawsuit. DEC will maintain the current LTC set-aside at 1.5 million allowances per year.

Sorry about the abbreviations, but note the lawsuit was dropped and hence the constitutional claims have not been tested. DEC is Department of Environmental Conservation, they administer RGGI in New York.

Oh, I see, it’s just a shell game – a state summary notes

To offset these increased rates, NYSERDA has agreed in the Consent Decree to use a portion of the RGGI proceeds to fund energy efficiency programs in Con Edison’s rate territory, which such funds will be commensurate with the costs associated with Con Edison’s payment of allowance costs to Indeck, BNYCP and Selkirk.

NYSERDA is the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, they dole out RGGI funds.

Finally, apparently constitutional details (even fundamental ones) insult right-thinking people. http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Group-linked-to-billionaire-Koch-brothers-seeks-1445005.php notes:

Peter Iwanowicz, a former DEC commissioner and head of the state Office of Climate Change who is now an official with the American Lung Association, said, “It is clear that those who are behind the suit are standing up for polluters and their profits, and they care very little about the people in New York.”

Note that RGGI is about CO₂ and only CO₂, and that CO₂ is not a significant breathing problem, at least not compared to sulfur and nitrogen oxides. Sigh.

At the moment…

… only New Jersey is poised to leave RGGI. If they do, that will leave Maryland and Delaware disconnected from the rest of the RGGI states. Whatever will they do? My guess is buy electricity from Pennsylvania at a discount. Maybe New Jersey too, but only if there’s a market for offshore wind power.

Previous posts

This isn’t a complete list, but it has the important ones. If you want to see them all, just enter RGGI in the search window at the top of any WUWT page. Or click the link.

12th quarterly RGGI auction a bust? It sure wasn’t a boom.

New Jersey announces intent to pull out of RGGI cap and trade – Christie strikes major blow

RGGI news: DE wants out, PA doesn’t want in, NH & NJ making progress

Electric Utility sues New York over CO2 regulation

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July 10, 2011 5:00 pm

The diversion of resources into Greenhouse gases (Green house Gases), GHG regulation, GHG Limtation Schemes, related economics and social programs is bordering on criminal.
You know, here in Australia, A survey has just been completed finding that 50% of under 25’s I think it was, didn’t know we are democracy. For gawds sake we have compulsory voting after the age of 18. LMAO.
The longer this scam keeps running and the longer we ignore rationality the more likely the west is doomed.
Such a shame, Democracy, freedom of speech, movement and association, not to mention economic freedom, seemed like such a good idea.

July 10, 2011 5:32 pm

“RGGI was the brainchild of Gov. Pataki.”
Not untrue, but ultimately it was the Wall Street boys and girls and their NGO front group allies and maybe some natural gas interests who are foisting these cap and trade plans, a tradition they inherited from Enron. If you screen out the noxious voices screaming “socialism!” and similar and confusing people the corporatism of these laws and the real players come into plain view. It is corporatism, here financial factions using government to directly profit or make competitors product more expensive. Take Australia, they have a plan for cap and trade, disguised as a carbon tax for a few years. What is Gillard more likely responding to, the money of screaming recovering Marxist Greens, of the money of the Australian Methane/Natural Gas industry (quite big and growing, FYI).

July 10, 2011 5:40 pm

Nick says:
“A survey has just been completed finding that 50% of under 25′s I think it was, didn’t know we [Australia] are democracy.”
Well, are you even a republic?
For the sake of international relations, can you get a parliament member to find out everyone behind the actual writing of the carbon proposal? I’m sure it is an international list in part, and not written by the politician fronting the bill.

July 10, 2011 5:42 pm

New England has lost a large percentage of it’s former manufacturing base. This will just
make it less economically disadvantaged to states like Texas.

Kevin Kilty
July 10, 2011 5:46 pm

“It is clear that those who are behind the suit are standing up for polluters and their profits, and they care very little about the people in New York.”

It would be amusing to build a comprehensive list of the people who use this phrase or some variant in the course of, say, a week. It’s as if certain segments of our society are “programmed” to make generic, misleading, alarmist, and by the way, completely untrue statements of this sort to misdirect. Is there a workshop they attend to have the programming done? I guess it works often enough. These people often garner campaign funds from said “polluters” and make legislation with their help as well.

July 10, 2011 5:55 pm

I’m disappointed with New Hampshire, I thought for sure the “live free or die” state would put a stake in the heart of RGGI.

Doug in Seattle
July 10, 2011 6:12 pm

If the solar/climate connection is shown to be as important as some think, then the RGGI and all other CO2 regulating schemes will fade. The speed of the fade will depend on just how desperate the politicians in power are to keep their jobs, fat salaries, and perks. Nothing motivate a politician more than the possibility of losing an election.

July 10, 2011 7:43 pm

It’s always depressing to see such a bastion group of states be so totally stupid and sold on a scam. And then, when it is apparent that it’s too expensive (besides not doing anything for anything, including climate), they are still sold on wind and power which are inherently unworkable and even more expensive. They completely fail to see that the scammers push wind and solar because they know that there “alternative” energies will NEVER work. “Alternative” energy means alternative to energy, which means not-energy; just what we need, no energy.

July 10, 2011 7:53 pm

It’s always depressing to see such a bastion group of states be so stupid and sold on a scam. And, when it is apparent that the program does nothing but hurt the people and does nothing to help anything in any way, except maybe states coffers, they are still sold on wind and solar. The scammers purposely push wind and solar as they know that these “alternative” energy sources simply will not work and are inherently too expensive and unreliable.
For California alone to produce half their power from wind and solar, it would cover 3000 square miles of real estate. Not counting the fantastic investment required for infrastructure, maintenance, and short life time of the equipment, it is patently impossible for a myriad of reasons.

Bush bunny
July 10, 2011 8:32 pm

These states don’t have a cap ‘n trade scheme legislation yet? They are just saying they should have one. I believe only California has one and they are going broke with industry moving to Texas. They’ll live and learn as the facts on the climate are explained scientifically. Not based only on computer models and thermometers in cities where the UHI will effect them. We are an ice planet and enjoying an interglacial and it is cooling again. Anyone that believed Al Gore were answering the green energy and carbon trader’s dream. The EU carbon trading is failing – again – it has failed to cut carbon emissions that are supposed to cause global heating. UK has suspended their green energy bill, the EU parliament did not vote for an increase in cutting emissions to 30%. And yet Australia is still going ahead. Idiots, but not all Australians are idiots, we do hold a inbuilt suspicion of pollies going back to our colonial days when there was rules for the elite and rules for the non land owners. Hasn’t changed much.

Bush bunny
July 10, 2011 8:34 pm

Post script, and of course China, Canada and the US will not be renewing the Kyoto agreement in 2012.
[REPLY: The US never signed on, Japan announced they wouldn’t renew, Kyoto is basically dead and the follow-on from Copenhagen or Cancun is stillborn. Or something like that, I haven’t tracked that as well as I might have. -Ric]

Alan Esworthy
July 10, 2011 9:10 pm

Kevin Kilty (July 10, 2011 at 5:46 pm) says/asks: “It’s as if certain segments of our society are ‘programmed’ to make generic, misleading, alarmist, and by the way, completely untrue statements of this sort to misdirect. Is there a workshop they attend to have the programming done?”
Yes, there is such a workshop. It is called “college”.

Bush bunny
July 10, 2011 9:25 pm

Ric there is a big problem when countries like the EU and UK and States in America all joined in
and rushed to get onto the gravy train called AGW for subsidies and grants to universities. Pension funds invested in carbon trading and renewable energy projects. Now it is going down hill and the gravy train is becoming derailed, billions invested are at threat. In someways those that have received grants etc, either for bodgy scientific reports can’t be forced to return this money although I believe the FOI has been enforced on Michael Mann and Phillip Jones of the UAE, What was that Shakespearen saying by Lady Macbeth or Macbeth ‘ I am so far steeped in blood I can not return..’ something like that. But Australia knowing this and ignoring the real scientific evidence there is no excuse. They even had the cheek to put a disclaimer (p2) under a highlighted subtitle ‘IMPORTANT NOTICE – PLEASE READ’, on the government commissioned ‘The Critical Decade’ an alleged scientific report and admitted they couldn’t be held responsible for any discrepancies or inaccuracies! A government commissioned scientific report! God help us all. In recent reports and polls in the National Press something like 80% of respondents
are against the governments carbon tax. I fear for this country – certainly this government will not be returned but who will in their place? They think giving pensioners an extra $4 per week will compensate them for a cost of living increases? Wouldn’t buy a Macdonald’s meal.

Kum Dollison
July 10, 2011 9:32 pm

It might be of interest to note that New Hampshire leads the states with a Median Family Income of $66,654.00.
Texas is in 34th with $47,000.00, and change.
Being High-Income, and well-educated, the citizenry probably figures that if there’s less CO2 produced, there’s probably less soot, and other pollution produced. Anyway, they can afford it.

Bush bunny
July 10, 2011 9:54 pm

Kum? I that all? The Australian carbon tax exemptions is for combined incomes of $80,000
pa or less. Pensioners get $16000 a year. I suspect if you live in New Hampshire houses are cheaper to buy than in Australia too particularly Sydney. Just a thought but a yearly income has
to be weighed against cost of living expenses and taxes, climate conditions (is it cold or very hot)
and the necessity to keep warm or cool. Interesting though. Beef and lamb prices now in a regional area where we grow the animals is $25 AUD a kilo for good rump or fillet steak, and lamb
well I haven’t eaten a lamb cutlet for years, they are $23 a kilo. A small lamb leg roast 32 dollars.
Even kangaroo prices have gone up to 17 dollars a kilo, and I don’t like kangaroo it’s too gamey
like venison, so we are eating more mince, chicken or fish. Even dog meat is $5 a kilo.

July 10, 2011 10:19 pm

This means that our engineers are failing us.
Ask any executive, governor or president, who is on her speed dial if an earthquake or flood, or God forbid both, hits her state. Odds are she’ll call a lawyer before she calls an engineer. I wonder if any Governors have an engineer on speed dial.
Engineers, registered with the state, qualify to be an expert witness in court regarding the natural sciences. Most NGO officials couldn’t draw a simple graph of emmisions versus time, especially with the correct units.
I am a registered engineer. I need to speak up. You need to speak up!
It is high time we engineers got out front of this ‘climate change’ issue. We could fix most of our roads and bridges if we simply spent the equal amount of federal funds on Interstates instead of global warming research.
For crying out load, why should we worry about 0.000 000 000 000 000 009 ppv of our personal CO2?
The legislature can not legislate scientific breakthroughs, no matter how easy it seems to them, or deserving the person may be.
They also can never legislate a change in any of the physics. The phenomena are what they are.
Engineers are the only ones left who have the authority and expertise to be able to tell the whishfull thinkers that no, wind and solar don’t compute with current technology. Sorry. It don’t matter what law you pass, the physics are the physics.
The U.S. has more energy than she knows what to do with. Enough to comfortably fuel our needs for more than a century.
All we have to do is permit it.

John Marshall
July 11, 2011 2:18 am

‘Live free or die’ Come on New Hampshire get a grip. Pull out of RGGI.
I know Vermonters are wooly Liberals so no hope there.

July 11, 2011 5:07 am

Ric – Thanks for these updates. In the Midwest, we’re not getting any info from the MSM on this issue, though I imagine our state pols are getting lobbied strongly. If any of the pols in the Midwest get tempted to try a regional coalition, we’ll have plenty of case history to point them to.
Thanks again. Your effort is appreciated.

July 11, 2011 6:03 am

Kum, the cost of living in Dallas and Houston are 21% less than Nashua-Manchester. If the people of NH were so smart and educated, they might think about moving to Texas.
[REPLY: Not for me. I’m 75% Swedish, my genes are quite happy with me wearing short sleeved shirts year-round (inside) and enjoying long, dark, star-studded nights in the winter. -Ric P.S. it’s 89°F with a dew point of 65°F at home now. Good day to cuddle with an air conditioner.]

July 11, 2011 7:28 am

Massachusetts recently released a report on how they spent the RGGI funds collected for 2009. Over $1,000,000 went for solar heating for public swimming pools, in Massachusetts. They sounded so proud of that. Were they even heated before? So what are the efficiency/CO2 savings? I had to get out the duct tape and wrap my head when I heard about this one.

July 11, 2011 9:41 am

EJ said @ July 10, 2011 at 10:19 pm:
“Engineers are the only ones left who have the authority and expertise to be able to tell the whishfull thinkers that no, wind and solar don’t compute with current technology. Sorry. It don’t matter what law you pass, the physics are the physics.”
Sad to say, I can only point you towards NASA, and the politically engineered disaster that organization has become.

July 11, 2011 8:28 pm

The main counterargument against NH leaving RGGI is that the state gets more money from RGGI than it pays into it, because NH has a much lower carbon footprint than the rest of the northeast, most of its power comes from nuclear and hydro. So technically, NH is bleeding the other states. As a NH resident, as much as I am an AGW skeptic, if the other states want to believe in AGW enough to pay NH for their own pollution, I say, good on ya….

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