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EPA picking winners and losers among states: GOP


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Washington, September 11, 2015 | comments

New emission rules will create winner "green" states in the Northeast, California and the West able to make money selling credits to a big majority of loser states that don't make the cut, detractors say.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., chairman of the House science committee's environment subcommittee, raised the issue during a Friday hearing into state attitudes toward the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan.

The plan forces states to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a third by 2030, and 15 states intend to sue, saying the rules are unconstitutional and illegal. Most Republicans say they're at least gross overreach by President Obama and will make electricity more expensive and less reliable.

The EPA counters that just as many states support the plan as are suing to stop it, and that there's flexibility to help states hold down prices and protect supply.

Bridenstine cited a chart provided by the Chamber of Commerce that makes the distinction between green and non-green states, which he used to drive his line of questioning at the hearing. He posted the chart on monitoring screens in the committee room while prodding a state official from Oregon. The Northwest state is a green state and is backing the EPA regulation.

Bridenstine asked the official if he believes his state "stand[s] to gain a lot?"

The Oregon official, Jason Eisdorfer, with the state's public utility commission, said he didn't completely agree with the chairman's suggestion that his state stands to gain a lot. The Clean Power Plan that was finalized Aug. 3 made a number of changes to the emissions reductions for each state and it "did turn the tables a little bit" for Oregon, he said.

Although it looks like "we are sitting pretty," Oregon has a lot of work to do, Eisdorfer said. Oregon is tied to the electric grids of several Western states for its energy supply, and it will take the state some time to work out the arrangements necessary to comply with the EPA rule.

The chart from the nation's biggest business lobby claims to show "winners and losers" under the climate rule. The chart is a map of the United States that designates all the states that have to substantially lower emissions in red, which makes up a majority of the nation.

Other states, designated in green, include Oregon, California and others on the West Coast, as well as several in the Northeast that are all part of greenhouse gas emission programs. The emissions, such as carbon dioxide gas from power plants, are blamed by many scientists as the cause of manmade global warming.

Those states were designated by the Chamber as "able to increase CO2 emissions rates or sell credits to others needing to achieve compliance."

The states in red, including Ohio and Texas also represented at the Friday hearing, would have to "reduce CO2 emissions rates or purchase credits from other states in order to comply," according to the chart.

It suggests that the green states will be cashing in by selling emission credits to the vast majority of the states that will be struggling to reduce emissions. The credit-generating states are those with the most renewable energy that are tied to a cap-and-trade program for reducing emissions.

The Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states that are part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative include Maine, Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts.

On the West Coast: the green states include California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The chart notes that Vermont, Hawaii and Alaska are exempt from complying with the regulation.

Coincidentally, the Northeast states on Friday released the results of their latest auction for emission allowances, or credits, for complying with their cap-and-trade program. The number of credits sold to comply with the program are reduced each year, and the money generated is designated for making energy-efficiency improvements for low-income neighborhoods, for example.

The credits under that program wouldn't be sold to a state that isn't part of the regional partnership. Although EPA allows for states to comply with the rule through the creation of multi-state alliances or by joining the Northeast partnership, it does not require it.

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Tags: Energy