RGGI’s ‘malignant cure’

RGGI’s ‘malignant cure’

The scholarly bill of particulars against the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative continues to grow.

As an Allegheny Institute white paper of a year ago (Policy Brief Vol. 19, No. 37) detailed it, the initiative, better known by its RGGI acronym, “is the first mandatory ‘market-based’ program in the United States to implement a cap-and-trade regimen aimed at decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.”

As the think tank analysis further explained, RGGI sets an emissions cap for all states within the cooperative. Its rules require fossil-fueled electric power generators with a capacity of 25 megawatts (MW) or greater to buy allowances equal to their carbon dioxide emission caps.

“RGGI Inc., the group responsible for overseeing the program, determines the cap and each plant must purchase allowances to equal its carbon dioxide emissions over a three-year compliance period.

“Each state sells the emissions allowances via auctions and is supposed to invest the proceeds in energy efficiency, renewable energy and other consumer-benefit programs.”

But as the Allegheny Institute concluded, RGGI is more of taxing plan than any kind of environmental program.

“The increased energy prices for taxpayers, loss of  jobs due to mounting energy costs and second-order effects resulting from higher electricity costs are strong arguments against joining RGGI,” found research associate Elizabeth Miller and Frank Gamrat, the think tank’s executive director, in their Oct. 10, 2019, study.

“Joining RGGI would be an ill-advised decision that would undermine much of the economic and environmental success the state has enjoyed in the last decade thanks to natural gas production in the electricity market,” they further found.

And yet again “progressives” embrace a regressive public policy.

Fast forward to just last week, the Capital Research Center (CRC) issued a damning assessment of not only RGGI but ancillary “green” efforts, mincing no words and pulling no punches.

From the exhaustive study’s summary:

“The Keystone State, an oil and natural gas powerhouse, is under siege by an alliance of well-organized, well-funded ‘green’ activists.

“From cap-and-trade schemes meant to bleed ratepayers dry to fracking bans on one of Pennsylvania’s most vital industries, the environmental Left is fighting an all-out war to blanket the commonwealth with its antihuman ideology.

“If successful, the activists will transform one of the country’s most important energy-producing states into the professional Left’s latest conquest—and Pennsylvanians will pay the price.”

As researchers Hayden Ludwig and Kevin Mooney note, Pennsylvania is the largest net exporter in the United States, delivering an average of 58 million megawatt-hours annually between 2013 and 2017.

Pennsylvanians enjoy electricity prices below the national average—largely thanks to the fracking boom of the mid-2000s, which reinvigorated the state’s natural gas industry and helped much of Western Pennsylvania stave off the worst effects of the Great Recession.

“But all of that could change in an instant,” they caution.

“Pennsylvania’s great success has made it a target of professional left-wing activists who subscribe to a rigid ideology that demonizes carbon dioxide—a naturally occurring gas vital to life on earth.

“These environmentalists are waging a nationwide war on cheap, abundant energy from coal, oil and natural gas, forcing the country to arbitrarily shift to unreliable and expensive sources such as wind turbines and solar plants.”

And from the CRC’s chilling conclusion:

“This year could prove one of the most important in Pennsylvania’s history.

“Pennsylvanians have a clear path laid out before them on the road toward growth, prosperity and affordable energy, or they could succumb to the designs of the far Left.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that the very future of the commonwealth hangs in the balance. The consequences of the decisions that Pennsylvanians make this year will ring through the ages.”

The bottom line in all this RGGI nonsense is that it is nothing more than another in a long line of the government Leviathan’s quest to gorge on taxpayer dollars, conscripting more and more of the public’s wealth as it engages in social re-engineering of the worst kind.

And, as per usual, government promises of “saving us from ourselves” are a malignant “cure” far worse than the disease.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).