M.D. Harmon’s March 29 column, “Northeast cap-and-trade compact raises taxes behind â€˜green’ smokescreen,” expresses the opinion that Maine should leave Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative compact.
The column, however, is a clear misrepresentation of how the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has affected Maine and the other Northeastern states. There are too many factual inaccuracies in the article to list, but the truth is that Harmon — fueled by misleading studies by the well-known, anti-renewable energy Beacon Hill Institute — ignores the fact that Maine experiences real and significant economic and environmental benefits by participating in RGGI.
Maine is at the end of the energy pipeline, and spends roughly $6.3 billion per year on energy, with $5 billion of that leaving the state to pay for fossil fuels from other parts of the country, or world, to power and heat its homes and businesses.
By limiting carbon pollution from power plants, requiring emitters to buy permits to pollute, and investing the revenues in energy efficiency and renewable energy, RGGI helps Maine meet its energy challenges while curbing dependence on fossil fuels and saving consumers money.
Harmon points to New Jersey, where the state diverted RGGI funds from these cost-effective investments into the state’s general fund, and then criticized the program as a “tax.” Instead he should have pointed out how the other nine RGGI states, including Maine, in 2012 went through a rigorous analysis that led to an agreement to strengthen RGGI.
In Maine, RGGI-funded investments have boosted the economy, spurring growth by $92 million and creating 900 jobs during the first two and a half years of operation. Harmon’s piece disregards the benefits of these investments and ignores the positive impacts of new job creation, consumer savings and money that is reinvested back into Maine’s local communities.
Peter Rothstein is president of the New England Clean Energy Council, Boston.