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A legislative bid for New Hampshire to pull out of a 10-state, regional greenhouse gas initiative turned into an ideological war Thursday over the credibility of the science of climate change.
But Gov. John Lynch tried to steer the debate to one of dollars and cents, warning that repeal of the 3-year-old law would hit businesses and consumers in the wallet.
“Withdrawing from RGGI would be a blow to our economy and to our state’s efforts to become more energy efficient and energy independent,” Lynch wrote to the House Science Technology and Energy Committee, which hosted an all-day hearing on the repeal bill (HB 519) in Representatives Hall.
New Hampshire became the last of the states in the region to sign onto RGGI, which makes polluters buy allowances for carbon dioxide emissions that studies show contribute to greenhouse gases.
Jessica O’Hare, program associate at Environment New Hampshire, said this form of cap-and-trade encourages businesses to change New Hampshire’s status as one of the top five states in consumption of oil per capita.
“It helps New Hampshire reduce our reliance on oil and other fossil fuels,” O’Hare said. “This will make the state more economically secure and reduce pollution.”
Joseph D’Aleo, a Hudson meteorologist and climatologist said CO2 is not a pollutant but a beneficial gas and these programs have no measurable effect on climate. “RGGI represents the epitome of all-pain-and-no-gain scenario,” D’Aleo said.
Eric Wurme, a Boscawen software engineer and climate enthusiast, agreed and said ocean currents have had much more to do with affecting climate and warming of the planet than any man-made program to encourage reduction of emissions.
“I consider it premature for government to try and influence any restriction on CO2 emissions at this point,” Wurme said.
But Kenneth Colburn of Stonyfield Farm Yogurt in Londonderry, said the program has already led to $21 million worth of energy efficiencies and 1,130 jobs. Repeal of the program would hurt the state economically, he warned.
“This will increase costs on New Hampshire businesses and citizens and provide them with no accompanying benefit whatsoever,” said Colburn, a former state director of air resources.
“This is hardly the New Hampshire way, and would detract from rather than contribute to the New Hampshire advantage.”
Lynch maintained since RGGI began, it has cost consumers $11 million and delivered $28 million in benefits.
Current Air Resources Director David Scott said RGGI is a modest program that encourages and does not punish businesses regarding their emissions.
“RGGI was never meant to solve the climate change issue; it was meant to be a modest, unique program and it has been,” Scott added.