New Hampshire House Votes to Quit RGGI


RENEGING ON RGGI?: The New Hampshire House of Representatives has voted to leave the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. But that doesn't mean the Granite State actually will be abandoning the Northeast's landmark accord. The House voted 246-104 to quit RGGI, the nation's first cap-and-trade system to control greenhouse gas emissions, the Concord Monitor reports . That margin is large enough to suggest that the House might have enough votes to override a veto from Governor John Lynch, a RGGI supporter. But the Monitor reports that the bill faces more opposition in the Senate, even though Republicans control that chamber by a wide margin, too. RGGI's critics are skeptical of climate science and worried about its effects on energy bills. Its defenders note that by dropping out New Hampshire would lose out on revenue from selling emissions credits without any guarantee that prices would drop in a regional energy market in which the initiative still would be in effect. "You don't have to believe in global warming to believe RGGI is a good idea," Senate President Peter Bragdon said.

WILDLANDS BACKLASH: Western governors have been complaining ever since the U.S. Department of Interior offered a new policy in December for declaring federal lands to be "wildlands." Now they're taking their case to Congress, McClatchy reports . Both Idaho Governor Butch Otter and Utah Governor Gary Herbert testified against the measure in front of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. The new directive doesn't declare any new lands as wilderness, but it does begin an inventory of lands that could be designated for protection. Western Republicans — including Otter, Herbert, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead — have worried that the Obama administration might block energy development on public lands without congressional approval. Said Otter: "Nobody called me and said 'in 60 days or in 90 days or 120 days we're going to put out this secretarial proclamation, what do you think?'"

CARBON GOALS UNMET: Washington State is predicting that it won't meet its first target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Columbian reports . In a 2007 executive order, Governor Christine Gregoire set the goal of cutting the state's emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a goal the legislature put into statute a year later. A new Washington Department of Ecology report says that's unlikely. The report cites the lack of either a national or Pacific regional emissions trading system as a key reason that the state's emissions are projected to remain roughly where they are today at 9 percent above 1990 levels.

DRILLING IN PARKS: Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania 's new Republican governor, has reversed a policy put in place four months ago that would have provided extra scrutiny to natural gas drilling in state parks and forests, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports . The policy, developed in the waning days of the administration of Democrat Ed Rendell, would have required environmental reviews before new drilling leases could have been issued in parks and forests. Pennsylvania has a massive gas deposit buried underground in rock known as the Marcellus Shale, which has become a central topic of debate in Pennsylvania politics.  

NINE YEAR DEADLINE: California looks likely to reinforce its mandate that utilities get a third of their power from renewable sources by 2020, a requirement that is the nation's most ambitious renewable portfolio standard. Saying the move will spur economically beneficial alternative energy projects, legislators are moving to pass a bill to reaffirm the standard, which was set in an executive order issued by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The legislation already has passed the California Senate and is expected to pass the Assembly, despite critics complaints that it will raise energy costs, the Los Angeles Times reports . Governor Jerry Brown has supported the concept. 

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