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02/08/2013

Comments

Nick Bell

Since 2008, The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has had major success in limiting carbon pollution from power plants in a very cost effective way. Coming from the Northeast, this article makes me proud that businessmen and state policy makers are taking the initiative to limit carbon emissions even when the federal government has done the opposite, ignoring the issue and doing little to solve it. The states have proven that it is not only possible to enact a cap and trade system, but it’s actually being done right here, right now, in the United States. It is being done so successfully and cost effectively that the states that volunteered to participate in the experiment have now announced that they will lower the carbon cap by an additional 45 percent than their initial goal.
What I thought was most interesting about this article is that the states have erased all myths that a cap and trade system would be a bureaucratic nightmare; "their cap-and-trade program has reduced carbon, created jobs, and promoted clean energy investments" all with a small staff of fewer than 10 employees! If 10 state level employees can run such a successful cap and trade program why can't our federal government, an entity with much more power and control, do the same for our entire country?

Kathryndstewart

The 45% additional reduction is great news, and surely a testament to the states' success with the RGGI. The author talks about the economic benefits and savings, and certainly makes it an attractive package, from a governmental standpoint. This Keynsian approach shows how government spending can spark the economy, with revenue, energy savings, and jobs created. I agree that at this point in our government's fiscal situation, we need more creative solutions, and need states to step up, instead of foisting the problem onto the federal government. The RGGI is an exciting, compelling tale that will perk the ears of other states, I just worry that more conservative (stubborn?) Southern states won't be as amenable. Further, the carbon pollution reduction is great, and might buy us more time, but more states and countries need to hop on board.

David Fishman

The success and efficiency gains that the nine states, which compose approximately 20 percent of the U.S.’ Gross Domestic Product, who participated in the “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative” have experienced since the programs implementation in 2008 is a clear reiteration that market forces can generate pareto improvements. The success of R.G.G.I. has been so encouraging that the program has announced a new set of carbon-reduction goals. The program intends to foster “a reduction of the 2014 regional CO2 budget, “RGGI cap”, from 165 million to 91 million tons – a reduction of 45 percent. The cap would decline 2.5 percent each year from 2015 to 2020.”

This cap and trade policy has demonstrated such effectiveness over its tenure, reducing carbon emissions among the participating states by 20 percent, that the authorities are confidently raising their goals. During 2008-2011, it is estimated that the program generated $1.1 billion of savings on energy bills, benefitting the consumer. Additionally, it has been estimated to have supported over 10,000 job years. Moreover, these estimates believe that retail electricity rates merely have risen by 43 cents per month for the average ratepayer since 2011 (I wonder what the number is relative to 2008-2011 though). From the article, it is clear that the efficiency that properly structured economic incentives can foster, while mitigating misallocation of resources, is often optimal, especially regarding emissions that have an optimal level above 0.

Kathryn brings up a good point. Although the article mentions that the program was less of the typical bureaucratic nightmare that plagues American legislature, it will be difficult to have this cap and trade system permeate the remaining states. Yet, the nine states have very convincing evidence; eventually, these state or region-wide successes will translate into national policy. Ideally, this change would occur without a catalyst, but only time will tell.

Haley Miller

This article is very encouraging that lawmakers are taking global climate change seriously and have begun to seek solutions instead of debate the validity of the issue. Under the cap and trade program, businesses are investing further in clean energy sources and finding success. Energy costs have been reduced, benefiting the consumer, and jobs have been created. Although there may be other factors which contributed to the lower costs and stronger economy, the cap and trade program certainly did not cause harm. And the benefit to the environment is undeniable. I think it is great that some states have put revenues into ensuring low-income citizens don't suffer unnecessarily under the program. While protecting the environment is extremely important, policy shouldn't harm human lives.

Alex Fernández

In my opinion, this article highlights the fact that the American population is beginning to understand and accept that there exists a connection between our carbon emissions and the health of our environment. I applaud the states that have participated in this initiative but am left feeling as though there is much left to do, both on a national and global scale. The article underscores the new clean energy and energy efficiency jobs that are being generated. However, they neglect to mention the numerous health benefits which also have positive effects on our population and economy. It will be interesting to see if and when the RGGI initiative spurs any changes in energy policy on the federal level.

D

I found this article interesting, especially after the first article that mentioned the new proposed ‘caps’ for the RGGI. It is awesome the RGGI is bold enough to declare such a drastic reduction in the new carbon reduction goal of 45%. The success of the RGGI can serve as an example for other states in how to reduce their carbon footprints. Not only has this cap-and-trade program been great in reducing emissions, but it has saved money for consumers, created jobs and has promoted clean energy investments. The idea of such a successful program will hopefully inspire both new programs from other states and policy makers in Washington. If the program has been so successful already with minimal downsides, then why haven’t more states adopted similar programs since the RGGI’s creation?
-Maggie Antonsen

Ellison Johnstone

As Maggie expressed, I am especially encouraged to hear of this new 45% reduction goal because of the first article we read that expressed doubts about the RGGI moving forward in the right direction. It's even more encouraging that business leaders in the region are excited about the new goal, as RGGI goals have proven to be economically enticing to businesses over the past few years. To me, the program seems to be a win-win. It has benefitted consumers, energy companies in the Northeast, and the climate. In class, we often talk about the tradeoffs involved in protecting the environment, but in this case, there seems to be almost no negatives involved in reducing environmental damage. As the article explains, the most common arguments against a cap-and-trade system fall flat in the face of the environmental and economic gains of the program. I think it will be very interesting to see what other regions or states adopt similar policies in the near future as the success of the RGGI becomes more well-known and celebrated.

Scott Diamond

This article provides an update to the concerns of an increased carbon cap raised by a previous article by Shattuck and Sosland. Most recently the overwhelmingly successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative reset the carbon cap with a plan that aims to reduce carbon emissions by an additional 45%. I am relieved that the RGGI has pursued such an ambitious goal, especially in light of the numerous benefits mentioned in this article and the Shattuck and Sosland article. After reading the Darmstader article in class this week, I remain further convinced that technological improvements are in integral part of the solution to the world’s environmental concerns. This cap and trade system accelerates the development of clean energy technologies by providing businesses with an incentive to develop ways to operate more efficiently (avoid tax) and by directly investing in clean energy technologies. Although states have flexibility in the way that they are to spend the $617 million in revenues collected from the program, a whopping 62% has been spent directly on energy efficiency investments. The ambitious goals of the RGGI and the huge investments in energy technologies should serve as a shining example to the other 41 states. With so few downsides to the system, I am baffled as to why there are not more states hopping on the bandwagon and acting similarly.

Wen Xiang Chuah

Although the results of the RGGI prove encouraging, both in terms of revenue gain and emissions reductions, the fact that a sizable portion of the nation had to basically deviate from national policy seems rather concerning. Admittedly, I originate from a more centralized model of government, but piecemeal implementation of such policies may prove to be less efficient, due to the effects on regional comparative advantage - the article makes no mention of the potential contractionary effects the policy may have created. Additionally, the differing market environment of the Northeast region may provide incomplete information of the potential effects if the same policy were to be implemented nationwide - would it be similar? larger? smaller?

Gyung Jeong

Bush administration's leadership vacuums restriction on the emission of greenhouse gas, which led to these ten states (initially nine states), joining together to create the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). s the report suggests, throughout this program, the states were able to reduce the carbon emission, to put about 1 billion dollars back into the pockets of consumers, and to create 16,000 job. It also created revenue for these states. As the article questions, if there is any doubt against this program, then they should consider decline in power-sector emissions with steady economic growth caused by the program. During this economic recession, this success should be learned by other states. They should also start enacting these programs in order to grow back the economy

Avery Gant

A cap and trade system seems to be one of the more promising systems to reduce emissions while reducing costs placed on the individual firms. I am strongly encouraged to see a structured political system in the form of the RGGI, which has been able to reduce emissions 20% while creating over $ 1.1 billion in revenue. It seems pretty clear to me that one of the few things the bipartisan American Public Sector can come to an agreement on is providing economic stimulation to existing companies/firms. The RGGI has shown that economic stimulation is possible, if not likely from providing economic incentives to companies that reduce emissions, and that regulation can in fact stimulate economic growth as a whole. I am interested to read the view points of one of these North Eastern firms to see if these regulations are profitable for each individual firm. A good idea for a study would be to analyze each individual firm to see what percentage of them benefited financially through the regulations of the RGGI, to see if it would be easily accepted by other US energy firms.

At first glance the monetary returns that have stimulated the economy of the North East by $1.1 billion should be an indication that these policies will likely spread to other parts of the country. It would not be all that unlikely to see similar federal regulation in the future.

Curtis Jay Correll

An effective cap and trade system to limit carbon and other emissions is really an exciting concept. Achieving the goal of environmental responsibility without undercutting the market system ought to be a bipartisan goal with the emphasis on a market based solution coming from the right and the emphasis on environmental responsibility coming from the left. States are indeed "the laboratory of democracy" and I think that they will hopefully all arrive at similar environmental regulations with or without federal intervention due to the successes in the Northeast. This article includes a lot of valid statistics and facts, such as the number of job hours created, money returned to consumers, and the amount of reduction in carbon output, but it would be interesting to hear the opinions of non-energy based businesses and to see some statistics on the rate of firms entering and leaving the North East and its correlation with the environmental policies. If there is no correlation, then there seems to be no valid reason not to instate similar policies throughout the US. While many firms will likely never support restrictive environmentally friendly policies, the fact that these policies can put money directly back into the pocket of the taxpayers could eventually sway public perception. Perhaps businesses will join the movement in order to appear more appealing to the common man and to show they have the consumers’ interests in mind. It may be a bit far-fetched or a long way off still, but the successes of such policies in the Northeast is extremely encouraging.

Matthew Thomas Howell

I agree with Alex in that finally changes are being made here in America and that people are understanding the capability of reducing emissions. Although the rest of the US may not be able to model itself exactly after the Northeast's example, the United States should recognize that the 'models' and 'theories' of reducing emissions actually do work in practice. Ideally this success of the RGGI would incite the rest of the US to reduce emissions and energy consumption. Then if nation-wide successes began to be seen, it could serve as a catalyst for other nations to follow suit and actually implement programs to reduce emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. I also agree with the point made by Wen. This article only highlights the 'good' of the RGGI, but what are the downfalls? Much can be learned from the failure of a program. The issue of scaling, brought up in many recent class articles, also came to mind when reading this article. Could the policies of the Northeast be implemented throughout the entire continental US easily?

Holley Beasley

I found this article to be especially interesting after reading the Boston Review article "Economics must be at the heart of any discussion of how to fight climate change" for class tomorrow. In that article, Nicholas Stern states, "Action by individual countries is, however, not enough, and it will prove more costly". Stern here is talking about how there needs to be a global effort and collaboration to overcome climate change. I think that he is envisioning a much more large-scale solution and to achieve such he is probably right, that it can't be a solution comprised of various individual actions. However, RGGI has found such great success and it is likely that a lot of the success stems from the locality of the policy. I do not disagree with Stern's article, but I also do not think anyone should rule out the possibility of smaller, more localized policy changes taking place that fit each regions economy and way of life better. The Northeast is a very different place from the Midwest, and so it is very likely that the policies created by the RGGI would not find the same magnitude of success there that they found in the Northeast region.

Also, I have a lot of respect for those nine countries that have participated in the RGGI for taking responsibility for issues that are not even all theirs. We learned earlier in the term about how activities in the more western regions of the United States can cause pollution on the east coast, traveling via wind or water. It is admirable that those Northeast states are taking the initiative, and sending the message that it is not about who's to blame, it's about fixing it now and doing their part to improve our environment.

Charles Busch

The Northeast states involved in RGGI are dispelling critics who believe that tying emissions reduction to economic growth is not feasible. According to data gathered since its beginning, states participating in RGGI have not only reduced emissions by over 20% on average, but they have also experienced economic growth simultaneously. This is certainly encouraging, but the future investment opportunities created by the RGGI may be even more promising. Enough states have joined RGGI so that there is now a contiguous region in the Northeast that is committed to the cap and trade system, which should attract businesses that are looking to take advantage of an environment which encourages emissions reduction.
One possible drawback of gas tax, cap and trade, etc. programs designed to reduce emissions that we have discussed in class is the potential electricity rate hike that they could cause. However, this article suggests that retail electricity rates have hardly risen at all. Moreover, RGGI has given rebates to low income families to help offset any potential increases in electricity costs as a result of the cap and trade system.
Already RGGI has made significant strides in its efforts to implement emissions reductions on a state and regional level. Its past and continued success should be an example for other states which are considering ways to curb carbon emissions, and I would not be surprised if more states followed in the footsteps of RGGI in the near future.

Matt Rutley

The creation and success of the Regional Greenhouse gas initiative shows that not only can we find effective ways to cut down on carbon emissions, but we can also do it in a cost-effective manner that helps both consumers and power companies. The initiative’s ability to create jobs and help new energy-efficient businesses has also made the initiative attractive to investors, as the rate of return for the economy has been enormous. This shows that government programs, even at the state level, have an ability to work if all players involved stick to the program at hand. Is this, however, an example of why we should leave more environmental policy to be handled at the state level over the federal level? Perhaps we should, like the article states, treat states as the “laboratories of democracy”, using them to test innovative environmental policy at a more micro-level before allowing these policies to be tested more broadly by the federal government. Regardless, the program has clearly done well, bringing in much more returns that it has output costs, having a $1.6 billion net economic boost. One criticism of cap and trade has been that it would drastically increase the cost of electricity, but according to the article, electricity rates have risen by less than 1 percent, a cost very insignificant when compared with the many benefits this program has created, like reducing carbon pollution and creating jobs. Looking to the future, I hope that we can soon successfully bring more programs like this one to a much larger scale.

Hampton Ike

This article gives great hope for what the future may hold in governmental policy initiatives to limit pollution. However, looking at this issue from a realistic/pessimistic point of view this program is but a drop out of the bucket with regards to global carbon emissions. The articles and journal items that we have read for class call for a global initiative to limit carbon emissions as the only way to prevent crossing a climate threshold with unknown but serious consequences. America does not have the time to wait for every state in the US to individually pass legislation limiting pollution. As was stated above, some states are likely to wait indefinitely in crafting legislation, with particular emphasis on the red states. If the tea party continues to gain traction politically, then a halt on climate change is certainly going to take place given they do not even believe it climate change exists. The federal government must not only take charge of America's emissions, but also work globally in setting restrictions and limiting carbon output. Obama's state of the union address though lacking specifics gives great hope that such policies will come to fruition. Certainly, a zero emission US is out of the question but limiting domestic and foreign emissions may give the world a long enough window to compensate economically and socially for the impending changes to the environment that are to come from the almost 400ppm CO2 levels currently in the atmosphere and rising daily.

Marissa Gubler

This article definitely provides hope for the global climate problem that humans currently face and will continue to face far into the future as opposed to many articles that merely present the severity of this problem. This is wonderful that these states that make up 20% of the United States' economic output have been able to reduce their carbon emissions by around 20% without weakening the United States’ economy. Hopefully, politicians in Washington will look to this as an example of what it best for the nation. This article really makes a lot of sense, logically. When cap and trade is put into effect, industries are forced to either reduce their carbon dioxide emissions or buy more permits, depending on the price of the permits versus their marginal abatement costs. Just like in this example, the cap and trade system encourages companies to invest in carbon reducing technologies and innovations. Therefore, more jobs are created so that scientists can work on engineering systems that are more efficient at reducing their carbon emissions. With more jobs, more people have more money to spend, and that money is injected into the United States’ economy via spending, thereby promoting growth. Also, it was very interesting that companies did not pass much of the costs of carbon emissions abatement on to the electricity customers, as electricity only went up by around 43 cents per month. Overall, this successful situation should serve as a model for the rest of the nation, and possibly for other areas of the world in respect to curbing carbon emissions to slow the process of global climate change.

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