Mass Legislators Revive Fight over Participation in Northeast Emissions Reduction Plan

Balking at Governor Mitt Romney's opposition, members of the Massachusetts legislature recently introduced a petition for legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Massachusetts through participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap-and-trade program intended to reduce greenhouse gases in the Northeast.  However, because of concerns over the program's effect on electricity prices, it is questionable whether the bill can be passed before the state legislative session ends in July 2. A two-thirds majority vote of the legislators would be needed to override the Governor's anticipated veto.

In December 2005, in a move reminiscent of the Bush Administration's rejection of the Kyoto Protocols, Governor Romney announced that Massachusetts would remove itself from participation in the RGGI, but would pursue its own carbon dioxide emissions reduction plan, which went into effect on January 1, 2006.  (See Mass. Governor Announces New Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reduction Plan) The state's current plan includes a cap-and-trade system, but without price caps.

Because Massachusetts is a key contributor of gas emissions in the Northeast region, its participation in the RGGI is significant.  Currently, all other New England states, save tiny Rhode Island, which also dropped out of the RGGI plan in December 2005, have a formal agreement in place to pursue the RGGI and are now moving forward on legislation to adopt the RGGI.