Concord, NH—This week the New Hampshire House of Representatives could vote on a bill to significantly change the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Ahead of the vote, today, Environment New Hampshire released a new report to highlight the role that clean energy and environmental policies have played in moving states toward meeting targets for reducing carbon emissions, while challenging claims that actions that reduce emissions undermine economic growth.
According to “A Record of Leadership: How Northeastern States are Cutting Global Warming Pollution and Building a Clean Economy,” New Hampshire and the 9 other states that participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) have cut per capita carbon dioxide emissions 20 percent faster than the rest of the nation, even as the region’s gross product per capita grew 87 percent faster than the rest of the United States.
“New Hampshire’s experience over the past decade gives us confidence that, with state leadership and more strong policies to promote clean energy and to limit carbon emissions that we can continue to make progress in reducing energy bills and pollution” said Jessica O'Hare, with Environment New Hampshire. “We are encouraged that the current proposal on RGGI removes the repeal component, but are concerned that it removes many of the positive aspects of the program.”
Businesses came out in support of the cornerstone clean energy program, including TRC Energy Services. With a grant from RGGI, TRC provides energy benchmarking services for schools, municipalities and business across New Hampshire: “TRC Energy Services has served over 200 schools throughout New Hampshire, lowering the tax burden of those communities," said Tom Rooney of TRC Energy Services. "Any bill to weaken or repeal RGGI deprives NH businesses and residents of the benefits of lower energy bills, cleaner air, and increased economic productivity."
Businesses that didn’t receive RGGI funds also participated. Steve Condon of Revision Energy expressed their support for the greater economic transformation and importance of the RGGI program. "We just opened a new facility in Brentwood, NH and are poised to hire more clean energy professionals. It's programs like RGGI that defray the upfront costs of energy efficiency and clean energy for homes and businesses, so they can enjoy the long term benefits of lower energy bills and reduced pollution.”
Environmental groups also voiced their support of the energy efficiency program. “New Hampshire Sierra Club supports climate solutions like the very successful cap and trade RGGI program,” said Catherine M. Corkery, Chapter Director of NH Sierra Club. “Energy efficiency retrofits funded by the cap and trade program for low income households, schools, small businesses and town facilities across the state help reduce the risks of global warming. At about 36 cents per household, New Hampshire is worth the investment.”
Two weeks ago, the Senate voted on HB1490 and an amendment offered by Senator Bradley. The approved amendment would: (1) divert all resources into the utility run energy efficiency programs, (2) cut funding for energy efficiency resources in half by placing a threshold of $1 on the allowances, after which the remaining funds are diverted, (3) make RGGI contingent on states with 10% of the New England power poll remaining in the program, and (4) remove the repeal provision.
The House could vote whether to concur with the Senate version of HB1490 or not this week. Their deadline is May 24th to act upon all bills as amended by the Senate.
Over the past decade, New Hampshire, in partnership with other states in the region, has taken meaningful steps to reduce its carbon emissions, including:
- Reducing Power Plant Emissions: In 2005, New Hampshire officials joined with nine other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States to establish the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the first program in the United States to limit global warming emissions from power plants, sell permits to emit carbon and invest the revenues in energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives.
- Expanding renewable energy: New Hampshire and all the states in the RGGI program have adopted renewable energy standards and other policies to ramp up renewable energy.
- Improving energy efficiency: New Hampshire and the other Northeast states have adopted a variety of energy efficiency programs; including standards for appliances, utility energy efficiency programs, building codes and other programs. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, six of the top ten ranked states on energy efficiency are in the Northeast. New Hampshire ranks 21st.
The report called on the states to:
- Continue to set aggressive goals and planning to reach them. States with statewide targets for reducing global warming pollution should redouble their efforts to identify and tap all available sources of emission reductions, and engage and inform the public about their efforts.