This is Part Three of a four-part Wonk Room series examining the implications for climate and clean energy policy of the 2010 gubernatorial races. Read Part One, on heartland states, Part Two, on Tea Party candidates, or view the full governor-race compilation.
The northeastern United States remains a bastion of the clean energy economy, though global warming deniers are vying to take over leadership of the state governments.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the carbon trading program of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, which went into effect in 2008. In 2006, Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) dropped his state out of the compact just before beginning his presidential campaign, but his Democratic successor Deval Patrick rejoined. There are governors’ races in all these states except New Jersey and Delaware.
The RGGI states “have seen tangible benefits from the program,” Stateline’s Rob Gurwitt reports. “Overall, there have been nine auctions held by RGGI since 2009, in which electric utilities and some investment firms have bought emissions allowances. And those auctions have raised some $729 million for a range of emissions-reduction and energy-efficiency programs — benefiting both homeowners and industrial users — as well as financing an occasional raid to balance a state’s general budget.”
Despite the strength of the clean-energy economy in these states, several Republican candidates are thinking of sabotaging it, driven by their ideological dislike of science, renewable energy, and the environment. In Maine, Massachusetts, and Maryland, Republican candidates have questioned their states’ renewable energy standards. Vermont stands alone, with both Democratic and Republican candidates who fully accept the scientific consensus on the threat of global warming pollution.
CONNECTICUT: Dan Malloy v. Tom Foley
MAINE: Libby Mitchell (D), Paul LePage (R), Eliot Cutler (I)
MARYLAND: Martin O’Malley v. Robert Ehrlich
MASSACHUSETTS: Deval Patrick (D), Charlie Baker (R), Tim Cahill (I)
NEW HAMPSHIRE: John Lynch v. John Stephen
NEW YORK: Andrew Cuomo v. Carl Paladino
RHODE ISLAND: Frank Caprio (D), Joseph Robitaille (R), Lincoln Chafee (I)
VERMONT: Peter Shumlin v. Brian Dubie
538 forecast: 83 percent likelihood of Democratic pickup
Republican candidate Tom Foley is in denial about the impacts of global warming:
Until you know what the problems are, and you’re in a reasonable time frame of their arrival, then there’s not much you could do. Until we actually experience the impact, then I’m sure there will be plenty of time to respond. [Connecticut Mirror, 10/13/10]
Foley also questioned whether Connecticut’s greenhouse gas reduction goals of 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 are “realistic,” though he “will certainly try to move us along a course that will get us to those goals.” Foley’s energy and environmental policy is a single paragraph of platitudes.
In contrast, Democratic Stamford mayor Dan Malloy has been a national leader in climate-friendly urban policy, and has a comprehensive environment, global warming, energy efficiency, and clean energy jobs agenda. “This is something I am ultimately committed to,” he told the Mirror.