Rep. Michael Harrington has requested a 2017 bill to withdraw New Hampshire from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
RGGI is a cap-and-trade program, in which utilities pay for carbon dioxide emission allowances. The funds from those allowances are then used for energy efficiency projects and ratepayer rebates. Eight other New England states participate.
Because the cost of allowances is reflected in higher electricity rates, RGGI opponents argue the program is essentially a hidden tax.
"It’s a redistribution of wealth," said Rep. Richard Barry in 2015. "It’s a carbon tax. Only those who know how to work the system are taking advantage of it, not local churches, pharmacies or small restaurants."
Supporters of RGGI counter that the program pushes utilities away from fossil fuels, which are subject to price volatility and harmful to the environment. Supporters also argue that the energy efficiency projects funded by RGGI save money for consumers and create jobs.
A complicating factor is the federal Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Right now RGGI satisfies federal requirements for the plan. If New Hampshire withdraws from RGGI, it might be subject to penalties from the federal government.
However, president-elect Donald Trump has pledged to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. If he is successful, New Hampshire legislators may be more likely to repeal RGGI.
Do you support or oppose RGGI? Let us know in the comments.