Environment New Hampshire testifies in support of cornerstone clean energy program at crucial hearing

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Supporters turn out to the state house to defend the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

Environment New Hampshire

Business groups, environmental organizations and concerned citizens turned out to Representatives Hall in the State House today for a hearing on HB 1490, legislation to repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The hearing was being held by Rep. Garrity who is the chairman for the Science, Technology and Energy Committee in the state House.
“With the passage of RGGI, New Hampshire became a national clean energy leader,” noted Jessica O’Hare, Advocate for the statewide environmental group, Environment New Hampshire. “RGGI is good for New Hampshire’s environment, creating jobs, and saving local residents and businesses money on their utility bill—a triple win for Granite Staters.”

Environment New Hampshire stressed RGGI’s success at helping the state reduce its reliance on oil and other fossil fuels, in turn promoting New Hampshire’s energy independence and reducing pollution.

“One of RGGI’s greatest achievements is that it helps reduce New Hampshire’s overreliance on oil,” remarked O’Hare. “Last year, $2.6 billion was shipped out of state for our energy needs. RGGI helps us reduce this reliance on foreign oil and create homegrown energy—and jobs—right here in New Hampshire.”

Environment New Hampshire noted that the Granite State ranks in the top five states in the nation for per capita oil consumption, hampering the state’s ability to become energy independent.

At the same time, many speakers pointed out that RGGI has a proven track record of helping New Hampshire businesses and residents reduce the amount of energy they waste, saving money and keeping energy dollars in their budgets to spend locally. 

RGGI has proven to be a successful, market-based program that brings crucial investments to energy efficiency improvements, boosting the state’s local economy and reducing New Hampshire’s carbon footprint.

Last year, the legislature passed a similar bill to repeal the climate compact. Governor Lynch vetoed the effort to pull New Hampshire out of the program and nine members of the state senate voted to uphold his veto, overcoming the veto proof majority.

Environment New Hampshire showed in a recent report that RGGI has already led to $27 million in investments that have helped the state’s families and small businesses save money on their utility bill, which is crucial in the current recession.  This has created $95 million in savings and $163 in Gross State Product (GSP) to date. Examples of these savings include:

•    With the support of a RGGI grant, the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center located in Greenfield was able to make critical improvements to the rehabilitation center’s heating system. By switching to a local biomass plant, Crotched Mountain not only helps to employ local residents, but cut their annual oil use from 25,000 gallons to 8,000 gallons, to reduce the state’s reliance on foreign oil.
•    The Lakes Region Community College located in the Lakes Region developed a new job training program to put residents back to work in the energy efficiency industry. To date, 150 students have gone through the program. They are using their skills to retrofit buildings, install efficient light structures and analyze buildings.
•    In the town of Temple, the municipal buildings have been retrofitted with grant from RGGI. Now, the residents of Temple will pay lower taxes, because of lower energy bills for the town.

“RGGI has been hugely effective for the state of New Hampshire,” stated O’Hare. “I cannot believe that any member of this committee or the legislature would want to rollback job-creating programs in the current economic climate.”

Environment New Hampshire and other groups called on members of the committee to oppose HB 1490—or any other legislation that would weaken or repeal this successful clean energy program. The committee is expected to follow up on the hearing with a possible vote on the RGGI repeal legislation as early as next week.