States In Northeast Cap And Trade Program Reduce CO2 20% Faster And Grow GDP At Twice The Rate of Other States

Northeastern states participating in America’s first carbon cap and trade program have outperformed the rest of the country in GDP growth and reduction in global warming pollution.

That’s according to a new report from Environment New Jersey, which examined emissions data and economic growth indicators from 2000 to 2009.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a nine-state cap-and-trade market designed to reduce emissions in the utility sector 10% by 2018. A recent independent analysis showed that the program has already created $1.6 billion in economic value and set the stage for $1.1 billion in ratepayer savings through investments in efficiency and renewable energy.

This latest report shows that states under the RGGI program saw a 20% greater reduction in per-capita carbon emissions than non-RGGI states — all while growing per-capita GDP at double the rate of the rest of the country.

It is, however, very difficult to pinpoint the exact impact that RGGI had on these emissions reductions. While the program has been in the works since the early 2000’s, it was only implemented in 2008. The combination of increased penetrations of natural gas and the economic downturn likely had the biggest roles to play in the emissions dip.

But some officials in the region believe that RGGI did play a part. InsideClimate News reported on reactions to the news:

“It’s very clear that emissions have decreased in the Northeast. I think it’s largely because of low natural gas prices, plus the effects of RGGI on top of that,” said Bob Teetz, vice president of environmental services at National Grid USA, a Waltham, Mass.-based electric and gas company. The utility operates 4,000 megawatts of natural gas power plants in Long Island, N.Y.

“All of these efforts are bearing fruit,” Ken Kimmell, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, told InsideClimate News. “We very much expect that that progress will continue,” as the economy gains strength, he said.

While we can’t say exactly what role RGGI played in these drops, we can make many other observations with certainty: The program has helped stimulate more efficiency and renewable energy, it has helped local businesses grow, it has added enormous economic value to the region, and it has not driven up electric rates.

Let’s compare real-world experience to the outlandish claims made by opponents of the program.

The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity actually claimed that RGGI would drive rates up in New Jersey by 90%. And New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pulled his state out of the program, calling it a “gimmicky tax.” According to program administrators, proceeds from carbon credit auctions brought $29 million to New Jersey in 2010, leveraging $3 to $4 in benefits for every dollar invested.

Opponents who claim cap and trade is bad for the economy simply don’t have a leg to stand on.

8 Responses to States In Northeast Cap And Trade Program Reduce CO2 20% Faster And Grow GDP At Twice The Rate of Other States

  1. Tom King says:

    When I buy from ebay I try to limit my purchases to the clean energy states. It would be wise for these states to organize under a collective umbrella that could be like a brand. Call it the carbon neutral group or something. I know that its an incomplete solution since it doesn’t necessarily reflect where an item is manufactured. It also doesn’t account for delivery distances, fuel, etc. But still, this is how my current purchases are made and the process will only intensify. Being out of the group is being out of the loop. Industries would be wise to relocate to these states.

  2. Raul M. says:

    Elliot Negin has an informative article about the ALEC
    In Huffington Posts’ Green section.
    It does seem an important question he raises about the difference between what’s said and what’s done.

  3. Ken Barrows says:

    Isn’t the Northeast where the financialization of the economy is taking place? No wonder its GDP is higher. Cap and trade may be a good idea but there are many reasons for a higher GDP.

  4. sailrick says:

    Ken Brown
    Yeah, that must be why Massachusetts ranked 47th in new job creation when Romney was Governor.

  5. JFM says:

    Naturally. But don’t try to raise the issue with the right wing GOP: they are, after all, a wholly owned subsidiary of big Oil. Oil=right wing, to the point that the GOP policies are now modeled on oil rich Saudi Arabia, e.g., no hand-holding in Tennessee, trying to hem women in at every turn…

  6. facts lean left says:

    Kn Barrows, where did you find that the “financialization” of the economy is taking place in the Northeast? Do you mean Northeast China, Northeast Saudi arabia, or Northeast Malaysia?

  7. Jackie says:

    What else could be expect from a career criminal like Karl Rove. A man who would stop at anything even ? to get back in the White House. Karl latched on to George W. and used regilion to get him elected. Be afraid of anyone like Karl who tells GW to say God told him to be President. Gov. Perry/Rick Santorum used God for votes and see where they are now. Mitt worships Joseph Smith Jr. so he isn’t talking about God, Mitt just pays off Evangelical, Catholic and Baptist Leaders to draw in the faithful to vote for a Mormon.

  8. Thom Jones says:

    JFM, Natural Gas is produced, distributed, and marketed by the Oil & Gas industry, including the Koch Brothers. And the source of fuel that the NE states are turning away from is coal. But I get your point; Big Oil, which receives millions of taxpayer subsidies while it records record profits, has no interest in seeing Cap and Trade succeed. They use our tax money to lobby congress, state legislatures, and corporate shills like Governor Christie to do their bidding. Big Coal probably does the same thing.