Friday, December 13, 2013

Northeast Climate Change Compact Keeps Proving Carbon Cap and Trade Works Really Well

Commitment to Clean EnergyThe U.S. Senate Republican minority used the filibuster to block the majority from passing a carbon cap and trade program in 2010, because FREEDOM, or something. So a group of Northeast states went ahead with it anyway and it continues to prove cap and trade works really, really well:
Massachusetts and eight other states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont – are part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is the nation’s first “cap-and-trade” program. Power plants in the RGGI states must purchase “allowances” that allow them to emit carbon dioxide. The states auction off these allowances and use the proceeds for public purposes, especially investments in energy efficiency, which create jobs and keep energy spending local.

The revisions to the Commonwealth’s RGGI program, as well as similar changes in the other eight states, will lower the existing “cap” on power plant emissions in the RGGI states from the current level of 165 million tons per year to 91 million tons per year starting in 2014. The cap will then be lowered by 2.5 percent each year thereafter until 2020. This reduction will ensure that in 2020, power plant emissions from these nine states will be half of what they were in 2005, when RGGI was initiated.

The lower cap is also expected to generate an estimated $350 million in additional revenue for the Commonwealth by 2020. These revenues will be invested primarily in programs to improve energy efficiency in Massachusetts’ municipalities, businesses and residences, which will, in turn, reduce energy costs and lower carbon dioxide emissions.
$350 million in revenue for Massachusetts alone? I wonder how much his state would be raking in if Gov. Chris Christie hadn't pulled New Jersey out of the program. What's the opposite of fiscal conservatism? Christie's pander to the Tea Party was that.

But cap and trade is supposed to bankrupt families and leave children shivering in the dark ... uh, right?
Before making these revisions, the RGGI states conducted extensive modeling on the impacts of these changes on consumers. The modeling shows that the impacts of the reduced emissions cap will be very modest, less than one percent in consumer bills. The average Massachusetts residential customer’s monthly electric bill of $72 will rise by 39 cents; the average commercial customer’s monthly bill of $455 will rise by $3.89; and the average industrial customer’s monthly bill of $6,659 will rise by $83.
A little over a penny a day to curb superstorms like Sandy and make sure we pass on a stable climate to our children and grandchildren? Seems like the biggest doorbuster bargain of the holiday season.
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