New Hampshire Governor John Lynch vetoed a bill yesterday that would have pulled his state out of the regional carbon-reduction program.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a 10-state CO2 trading system in the Northeastern U.S. crafted in 2008 to reduce emissions 10% in the utility sector by 2018. The proceeds are designed to go back to ratepayers and businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, which, according to the program administrator have brought $3 to $4 dollars for every $1 raised from carbon allowance auctions.
The Democratic governor said in his veto message that ending the program would cost jobs, hinder the state’s economic recovery and damage New Hampshire’s long-term competiveness.
Lynch said an assessment by the University of New Hampshire found that RGGI’s cumulative impact through 2010 was a net benefit of over $16 million in revenue to New Hampshire.
The governor explained:
“These are funds that have been invested directly in helping New Hampshire families, businesses and local governments become more energy efficient, reduce costs and create jobs. This bill would have eliminated those energy efficiency efforts — eliminating jobs today and eliminating efforts to help businesses and families cut their energy use. Given that energy is a major cost factor for businesses, ending our energy efficiency programs would also hurt our efforts to bring new companies and jobs to New Hampshire.”
New Hampshire is one of four states that have considered pulling out of RGGI. But only one, New Jersey, has actually started the process. Seth Kaplan of the Conservation Law Foundation says that businesses benefiting from RGGI funds only became vocal about their support of the program after opponents threatened to pull out. “A lot of them came out of the woodwork, which definitely had some influence on the process. Usually, it takes an attack like this for people benefiting to speak up,” he said.
Governor Lynch supported raiding RGGI funds last year for spending on programs other than energy efficiency and renewable energy that would benefit ratepayers. But so far, the state has invested tens of millions of dollars in new projects for homeowners, schools and municipalities and trained more than 150 workers for new jobs in the energy efficiency field. The cost to ratepayers: 35 cents a month.