It’s been about two years since Maryland utilities were forced to participate in the scam better known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It’s a scheme which has transferred over $139 million away from the utilities and, to some extent, into state coffers for redistribution to low-income Marylanders.
But, as an investigation by Mark Langerkvist at the New Jersey Watchdog website reveals, while progress has been made toward the stated goal of reducing carbon emissions the auction and carbon market has had little to do with it! Instead, their internal probe revealed that the carbon cap is much higher than actual usage; thus, it’s projected that the per-ton price will be far less than thought and has already plummeted to half its 2009 peak.
So why is the carbon market in a tizzy? For one thing, utilities have been relying more and more on natural gas to generate electricity. Not only did the price for natural gas become much more favorable, but natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal as well – thus, lower emissions. Moreover, general demand for electricity has dropped 7% since the calculations were made. The market demanded more efficiency and businesses made do with less as a cost-saving measure.
All this seems to come as a shock to everyone except those of us with common sense. Yet I don’t see the state of Maryland saying to the utilities and other carbon allowance purchasers, “oops, sorry, you’re reaching these (artifically based) goals without our help so here’s your $139,117,061.91 back.” Instead they’re saying, “suckers!”
And since the Democrats were handily re-elected earlier this month, even that realization won’t end the open season on utilities and their ratepayers. They’ll still insist that we as a state would be better off depending on more expensive (and less reliable) ‘alternative’ sources like wind and solar power – both great ideas except the sun only shines an average of 12 hours a day (when it’s not obscured by clouds) and those days you really want to crank up the air conditioning in the summer tend to be those days where the wind’s not blowing!
(Nor need I mention that the infrastructure to move that juice around isn’t exactly handy, and we’re already staring at an issue with that over the next few years on land, not to mention underwater.)
There has been talk in the past (particularly from New Jersey) about dropping out of RGGI, and Chris Christie would likely be the only governor of the ten involved with the cajones to do so – assuming such legislation could pass since his state likes the cash just as Maryland does. (Maine and Pennsylvania have both elected Republican governors and legislatures, so they could follow suit.)
In a saner legislature, Maryland would follow suit and withdraw from this group which only seems to be effective at wealth transfer and worsening an already poor business climate. Instead, conservatives have far too few seats in the General Assembly so we know the fate of such a bill before it’s even written.
However, that doesn’t mean Maryland Republicans shouldn’t try to overturn legislation which was based on the faulty premise of so-called ‘global warming’ to begin with and which amounts to a hidden tax on utility ratepayers – even if the committee chairs lock the bill in their desk drawers. (Just get a hearing and committee vote out of it, or better yet make withdrawal a floor amendment the next time there’s an energy-related bill. Putting the Democrats on record is what counts here.)
It’s part of the truly needed reforms the state has to undertake to make it a job-friendly zone, and right now the top three issues are jobs, jobs, and jobs. Perhaps the state won’t ever cash in on the possibility of offshore oil or the natural gas that’s likely sitting below its western panhandle, but it can reverse its most egregious laws and make life a little easier for working families.
Postscript: This American Thinker piece by Jeffrey Folks is well worth the read. It nationalizes what we have done as a state.