I had been worried about two or three states pulling out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced “Reggie”), the nation’s first cap and trade program for greenhouse gases, for awhile. It seemed 99.9% sure that New Hampshire would pull out after its House of Representatives voted to pull out of the initiative and its Senate had a clear Republican majority likely to do the same. Even if the Governor tried to veto such a decision, he could be overridden.
Meanwhile, strong attacks were being made on New Jersey’s involvement in the initiative as well as other states’ by the Tea Party and their Republican puppets.
At the same time, let’s note that RGGI has been extremely successful at encouraging clean energy and energy efficiency (which has meant creating jobs and lowering energy bills), providing energy assistance to low-income families, and making the participating states a decent amount of money (which, in crisis, some have even inappropriately used to help balance state budgets).
In total, RGGI creates over 20,000 jobs and generates approximately $2.6 billion in economic growth.
Now, New Hampshire (very surprisingly), Delaware, and Maine have voted to stay in the initiative, due to the many benefits mentioned above. The NH Senate voted 16-8 to stay in RGGI!
“The tide has definitely turned against these ideas of pulling out of RGGI,” Seth Kaplan, vice president of policy and climate advocacy for the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), said. “It is a classic political pattern. You have a small group of committed folks trying to make something happen, and they do not realize the depth of the people who oppose them.”
Yes, some politicians get the fact that RGGI benefits their state and as long as their state, and that voters notice that as well.
RGGI helps people (creates jobs, helps people to lower their electricity bills, and helps keep the air and water clean and climate livable) and thus helps society or a state as a whole.
Now, New Jersey is still under threat with a Tea Party governor and strong efforts from Koch front groups to take the initiative down. Greenpeace recently showed that RGGI is the new, number one target of the Koch Brothers.
NJ, a pretty large and powerful state economically, could have a strong impact on the future of the scheme. It is considered the most important state of those that have been looking to potentially pull out. It emits almost as much as the three states mentioned above combined. Therefore, it is where Koch front groups have focused their attention.
The NH House is still pushing to pull out despite the Senate’s recent vote and a new University of New Hampshire study that shows how ridiculous it would be to do so. And, in the Senate-amended bill, “the state could withdraw from RGGI if another state with at least 10 percent of the initiative’s total electricity production, like New Jersey, exits the program,” Solve Climate reports.
It is critical that New Jersey stay in RGGI for the initiative to stay strong and keep running indefinitely. No matter how much Tea Party groups lie or are lied to about the effects of RGGI, the state as a whole and its politicians need to understand that they benefit from being in the program.
Sign the petition above to encourage NJ to stay in RGGI. And spread the word about this. (This is a free-market approach to regulating greenhouse gases, encouraging clean energy efficiency, and creating jobs, for goodness sake! And it’s working.)
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