Key Officials in Three States Reject Industry Efforts to Roll Back Regional Program to Reduce Carbon Pollution
On Wednesday May 10th, key legislative committees in Delaware and Maine and the New Hampshire Senate voted to reject efforts by fossil fuel interests to pull the states out of a landmark program adopted by ten Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce global warming emissions from power plants; known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The efforts to roll back RGGI are primarily fueled by Americans for Prosperity, a 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.
In 2005, leaders in 10 northeastern took a decisive step against global warming and fossil fuel dependence by agreeing to create a system to limit emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the system took full effect in 2008, becoming the first cap on global warming pollution implemented anywhere in the United States. Two and a half years later, RGGI is successfully sparking investments in clean energy solutions in the region and demonstrating the workability of a program that requires polluters to pay for the right to emit carbon pollution.
“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,” said 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” said Jessica O’Hare, of Environment New Hampshire. “We commend all of the New Hampshire officials who have voted to keep New Hampshire in the program.”
According to 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 dollars 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.
“The RGGI program is a win-win for Maine’s environment and economy. It’s cutting pollution, reducing energy costs, and creating jobs. Pulling Maine out of the program would have been shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor. “We applaud the Committee for rejecting this bill. The state would have walked away from millions of dollars each year – money that is currently cutting energy costs, creating jobs, and cutting pollution.”
Similarly, in Delaware, the House Energy committee voted 4-3 rejecting a bill to repeal the state from RGGI.