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EPA Clean Power Progress in Granite State Under Threat

PHOTO: Lawmakers will hold a hearing this week on a measure that would repeal the state's involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Opponents say the measure threatens progress the state has made in curbing harmful carbon pollution. Credit: Wikipedia Commons
PHOTO: Lawmakers will hold a hearing this week on a measure that would repeal the state's involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Opponents say the measure threatens progress the state has made in curbing harmful carbon pollution. Credit: Wikipedia Commons
January 19, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. – It's lofty goal for some states – a reduction of carbon pollution of 32 percent by 2030 under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, but the Granite State is already ahead of the curve.

State Rep. Bob Backus of Manchester says New Hampshire had a head start on meeting the new requirements because of its cap and trade system with nine other Northeastern states as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which goes by the nickname Reggie.

"Because of that, we are achieving emissions reductions already through a market-based system – and that will be a credit for us in meeting the requirements of the new regulations," he states.

Backus says even though RGGI has achieved many of its goals, including health and economic benefits at a very low cost, it is being challenged by a measure that comes up for a hearing in Concord this week.

The Republican backed bill (HB208) would repeal New Hampshire's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Backus is a member of the New Hampshire House Committee on Science, Technology and Energy, which will hold a hearing on the proposed repeal Thursday morning.

Backus says the political equation has changed with Republicans now in control, but he believes RGGI will survive.

"The benefits have been tremendous,” he stresses. “We've achieved emissions reductions, we've managed to acquire substantial funds for energy efficiency programs that we wouldn't ever get through raising taxes to do it – so, this has been a great success, and I am hoping that the majority of my colleagues will agree. "

Backers of the measure have said that repealing RGGI would reduce the cost of doing business in the state.

RGGI supporters say it's a false choice to suggest Granite Staters have to choose between public health and the economy, noting that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) estimates that withdrawing from REGGI would mean a loss of $8 million a year and $20 million less state revenue for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.





Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH