Bipartisan Senate bill would boost regional efforts

Source: By Geof Koss, E&E News reporte • Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2019

Senators from Eastern states that are members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) introduced bipartisan legislation yesterday that aims to boost similar regional climate efforts nationally.

The “Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act,” sponsored by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and 10 other senators, would create an Office of Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs within EPA to provide analysis and technical assistance for new regional climate efforts and back existing ones, including RGGI and the Western Climate Initiative.

The legislation would also provide grants for state and local governments to take steps for developing or joining regional greenhouse gas reduction programs.

Additionally, it would require EPA to convene an interagency task force to examine best methods for supporting state climate efforts, consult with states interested in regional climate efforts and identify federal data gaps that are relevant to such partnerships.

Also sponsoring the bill are Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) is also a co-sponsor, reflecting recent interest by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in joining RGGI.

In a statement, Hassan noted her work as a state senator and later governor on adding her home state to the RGGI roster.

“The initiative has been successful in helping to reduce harmful emissions and energy costs, create jobs, and encourage innovation in New Hampshire’s renewable energy economy,” Hassan said.

“This bipartisan legislation would support states like New Hampshire that have already created these sorts of emission-reducing programs, while also encouraging other states and local governments to develop their own regional greenhouse gas initiatives.”

Collins, the sole GOP sponsor, noted climate risks to the Pine Tree State.

“There is no doubt that climate change poses a significant threat to our economy and our natural resources, including Maine’s forestry, fishing, agricultural, tourism, and recreation industries,” Collins said in a statement.

“This significant challenge requires cooperation at all levels of government and across geographical boundaries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Collins has a far more moderate environmental record than most Senate Republicans and was the lone GOP vote against confirming former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to that position.

However, the League of Conservation Voters yesterday dropped its longtime support of Collins as she faces a competitive race in her bid for a fifth term next year (Greenwire, Nov. 14).