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Businesses Unite in Support of RGGI

A group of Northeast-based companies are uniting to voice support to continue the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

In an open letter to governors of the 10 states that make up the RGGI program, more than 200 businesses backed the mandatory, market-based initiative that aims to reduce carbon emissions from the region’s power sector by 10 percent by 2018. The program includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

RGGI requires that the governor’s offices conduct a review process in 2012. In the next few weeks, a timeline will be set that will layout the review process, culminating with a detailed state-by-state report of the impacts, effects and viability of the program.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has already outlined his state’s intent to back out of the program. Factions in other states, such as New Hampshire and Maine, have also called for a withdrawal, though those requests so far have failed. The political tides have turned significantly since the program was started, and many legislatures are now dominated by a new crop of lawmakers looking to cut spending in cash-strapped states.

But for the businesses who attached their names to the letter, the hope is that they will hold enough sway for governors to give pause over the prospects of pulling the plug on the nation’s only cap-and-trade market.

Businesses across the region from various sectors signed the letter. Below is the text of the letter. The letter with the full list of signers is also available.

Below is the text of the letter:

Dear RGGI State Governors,
We are companies that believe strong clean energy and clean air policies create jobs and stimulate economic growth. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) shows that market-based programs can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while boosting our economy and improving energy security, and we encourage you to support and strengthen RGGI going forward.

We all agree that market-based programs direct investments to the most cost-effective means of improving energy efficiency and air quality. Additionally, by reducing spending on out-of-region fossil fuels, RGGI improves energy security and economic competitiveness and frees up energy dollars for spending in other parts of our economies. This is not hyperbole — the data shows a $4-6 increase in economic output for every $1 invested in energy efficiency programs in the RGGI states.1 Even better, these market-driven investments create jobs in the clean tech sector - one of the most dynamic segments of our state economies.

Improving RGGI will provide still more cost-effective benefits. Updating the RGGI emissions cap to create effective pricing signals will accelerate the transition to clean energy and drive additional in-region economic growth, while reducing actual emissions. Coordinating with energy and climate programs in other states and regions holds additional promise for increasing the scope and cost-effectiveness of RGGI’s market-based model.

With your bold leadership, we can utilize RGGI to help our economy, businesses, residents, and environment. We urge you to build on RGGI’s success to-date and strengthen the program to create stronger, more secure, and cleaner economies.

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