Greed and secrecy mark nation’s first, biggest cap-and-trade program UPDATED: Repeal effort launched 

While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid desperately seeks a way to force a cap-and-trade energy bill through the Senate, folks in 10 northeastern states are getting a bitter taste of what such a program really means.

In the case of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that includes New Jersey New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Delaware and Maryland, greed and secrecy appear to be the most dominant considerations.

RGGI describes itself on its web site as “the first mandatory, market-based effort in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states have capped and will reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector 10% by 2018.”

Established by the participating states in 2008 with the assistance of environmentalists as a model for federal lawmakers, the RGGI has since sold more than $688 million in carbon dioxide permits, or credits, according to New Jersey Watchdog.

“The bidders at RGGI auctions include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase and other Wall Street heavyweights,” according to a new report by NJ Watchdog.

“They hope to make big money by speculating on the price of permits, called allowances. Electric power plants are required to obtain an allowance for each ton of CO-2 they emit,” NJ Watchdog said.

But guess what NJ Watchdog was told when its reporters asked for the names of buyers of the $688 million in permits and what impact will their purchases have on utility bills paid by millions of residents in the 10 states participating in RGGI?

“That’s none of our business, according to the bureaucrats in charge. They denied New Jersey Watchdog’s Open Public Records Act requests for auction details, contending the bidders’ ‘expectation of privacy’ and ‘trade secrets’ outweigh the public right to know,” according to NJ Watchdog.

“RGGI executive director Jonathan Schrag claims RGGI is not a ‘public body’ subject to state open records laws – even though it’s a non-profit cooperative created and governed” by its 10-state members.

And worse yet, according to NJ Watchdog, “the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection contends it ‘does not have documents responsive to (the) request in its possession.’ Reached by telephone while vacationing, Schrag expressed surprise at NJDEP’s statement. He said RGGI provides details of auction particulars to all 10 states.

“State officials were ready with more hot air: ‘Even if the documents requested were in the possession of NJDEP…requested items would also be subject to confidentiality as trade secrets,’ the agency argued in its written response,” said NJ Watchdog.

In other words, the “right” of public officials to collude with special interests seeking big profits in a process designed to impact the costs of critically needed utility services like electricity is more important than the statutory right of state taxpayers and utility rate payers to know what is being done?

For more on this astounding story that gives us a disturbing look at what would likely be an even more secretive and expensive federal cap-and-trade system, go here.

UPDATE: RGGI repeal effort

Phil Kerpen, vice president for policy of Americans for Prosperity, describes in a podcast the legislative history behind RGGI and announces an effort to get the New Jersey state legislature to repeal the Garden State's participation in the program. Go here for Kerpen's podcast.

 

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Mark Tapscott

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