N.H. House votes to bail on regional cap-and-trade program

Despite please from the Governor’s office, New Hampshire’s House of Representatives voted to end the state’s involvement in a regional cap-and-trade program 246 – 104. Proponents of the bill said original involvement in the carbon trading program was based on unproven scientific assumptions about global warming. Meanwhile those voting against repeal cited the economic benefits and the dangers of doing nothing.

In a vote held yesterday afternoon the lower house in New Hampshire’s General Court repealed the law joining nine other states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Under the cap-and-trade plan, electricity generators have to reduce pollution levels or bid at auction for allowances giving them the right to produce certain amounts of carbon dioxide. Revenues generated by the auctions are then disbursed among member states for energy efficiency programs.

RGGI critics called the program a “stealth tax” on electricity consumers because state leaders used the funds raised through auctions to pay for other state projects. According to numbers from Governor John Lynch’s office, the legislation will cause ratepayers to continue to pay as much as $6 million in additional electricity rates, while forfeiting more than $12 million of funding annually.

“Withdrawing from RGGI would be a blow to our economy and to our state’s efforts to become more energy efficient and energy independent,” Gov. Lynch wrote in a letter to the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee earlier this month.

The cumulative impact of RGGI in New Hampshire through the end of 2010 has been a cost of $11.7 million, and a benefit of $28.2 million in allowance revenue, the governor’s office said. The state ranks 22nd in ACEEE’s 2010 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard and produces about

Since 2009, RGGI states have raised $777 million and reinvested around 80% of the revenue in clean energy programs.

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