"Today, the Maine Senate voted 35-0 for final passage of “An Act To Authorize the State's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative” (LD 1851, known as RGGI [that's the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative]).This is great news for Maine's environment and its economy. Legions of capitalist agents - from multinational reinsurance companies and Big Oil to independent farmers and fishermen - have asked our government to assign rights and responsibilities to account for the costs of greenhouse gases.
"Today’s vote makes Maine the third northeast state to pass a law that requires power plants to reduce their emissions of global warming pollutants as part of a region-wide "cap-and-trade" system. Vermont and Connecticut have already passed RGGI legislation -- altogether ten northeast states are in the process of adopting similar policies, and five western states are not far behind...
"The bill would reduce global warming pollution from power plants by nearly 20% by the year 2019, and would enable Maine businesses to participate in a regional marketplace for emission reductions. RGGI can save electricity customers 5 to 15% on electricity bills, help protect against rate increases, generate an "energy savings fund" worth up to $25 million per year to help both residential and commercial energy consumers save money and invest in energy efficiency, and create a new "carbon market" in the Northeast, with opportunities for everyone from dairy farmers to high-tech companies."
Besides gaining greater efficiency in its whole economy, Maine will also benefit in the short term because our utilities generate relatively few greenhouse gases: because we produce more electricity from small hydro projects (and because wind power is our main source of growth in electrical generation for the foreseeable future), Maine ratepayers will reap the benefits as local power companies export carbon credits to other states.
Meanwhile, a string of five western states bookended by Washington and New Mexico are starting their own cap-and-trade scheme, and the proliferation of multiple regulatory frameworks is sure to incur big costs for Big Oil and interstate utilities. Some of them are even begging the crew they bought for the White House to enact a strong nationwide cap-and-trade system to save them the hassle of dealing with the states.
For more information:
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
Press Release: Maine third Northeast state to pass "RGGI" law to cut global warming pollution from power plants