Article

Mass. pulls out of agreement to cut power plant emissions- Romney sought caps on penalties

Massachusetts yesterday pulled out of a landmark multistate pact to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from Northeast power plants, Governor Mitt Romney confirmed last night. Rhode Island also dropped out of the pact, according to two government officials involved in the negotiations.

The two states wanted to cap how much power plants would have to pay to emit pollution, to protect businesses and consumers from increases in energy costs. The other states were willing to compromise, the government officials said, but not to go as far as Massachusetts wanted because they thought it would have undermined the pact's effectiveness.

An announcement of the pact was scheduled for today in New York, but it has been put on hold as the seven remaining states discuss changes because of the loss of the two states. The agreement is the largest effort in the nation to bypass President Bush's opposition to national limits on smokestack emissions of greenhouse gases, which are blamed for contributing to global warming.

''I believe it's a national embarrassment for Massachusetts to back out," said US Representative Martin T. Meehan, a Democrat from Lowell. He and the other members of the Massachusetts' congressional delegation sent a letter to Romney earlier yesterday urging him to sign the pact. ''Massachusetts should be at the forefront . . . not leading the opposition," Meehan said via telephone yesterday.

Romney said last... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
The two states wanted to cap how much power plants would have to pay to emit pollution, to protect businesses and consumers from increases in energy costs. The other states were willing to compromise, the government officials said, but not to go as far as Massachusetts wanted because they thought it would have undermined the pact's effectiveness.

 
An announcement of the pact was scheduled for today in New York, but it has been put on hold as the seven remaining states discuss changes because of the loss of the two states. The agreement is the largest effort in the nation to bypass President Bush's opposition to national limits on smokestack emissions of greenhouse gases, which are blamed for contributing to global warming.

 
''I believe it's a national embarrassment for Massachusetts to back out," said US Representative Martin T. Meehan, a Democrat from Lowell. He and the other members of the Massachusetts' congressional delegation sent a letter to Romney earlier yesterday urging him to sign the pact. ''Massachusetts should be at the forefront . . . not leading the opposition," Meehan said via telephone yesterday.

 
Romney said last night that he could not endorse a plan that did not include a ''safety valve," one that would cap the amount power plants would have to pay if they exceed emissions limits -- costs that could be passed on to businesses and consumers.

 
''New England has the highest energy rates in the country, and [the pact] would cost us more," Romney said in a telephone interview. ''We offered a simple safety valve and they rejected that and came back with a series of proposals to lessen the price escalation, but it was not a clean and sure safety valve."

 
Romney also said the program was largely symbolic and would not fix the worldwide problem of greenhouse gas emissions. He said that Massachusetts and other states would probably monitor the pact and that ''there is no hurry" to join.

 
Along with New York, Massachusetts was a leader in forging the agreement over the past two years, and last month Romney called the agreement ''good business." But he later raised concerns about the impact the agreement would have on business energy costs.

 
Massachusetts was long seen as a key player in the pact, not only because it emits about 18 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions covered by the deal, but because of its stature as the hub of New England.

 
The pact, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, calls for freezing emissions and then reducing them by 10 percent by 2020. In addition to New York, the other states that have signaled their approval of it are Vermont, Maine, Delaware, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

 
The timing of the Massachusetts decision -- less than an hour before Romney announced his plans not to run for governor again -- highlighted the pact's political aspects. Romney and Governor George E. Pataki of New York are both weighing runs for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

 
Peter Constantakes, a spokesman for Pataki, said officials in New York were disappointed by the pullout, but hoped they would join sometime in the future. ''We are greatly disappointed that after 2 1/2 years of productive work, we have been unable to reach a final agreement."

 
Carbon dioxide, which is released from power plants and automobiles, traps heat in the atmosphere and radiates it back to earth. Many scientists say the earth is heating up more rapidly because of manmade releases of the gas.

 
A group of industrialized countries has signed an international agreement called the Kyoto Protocol, which is designed to reduce emissions. US officials have refused to sign it, saying they want developing countries to be part of the pact.

 
The Northeast pact was to be announced at a key international climate-change meeting in Montréal on Dec. 1, but Romney's concerns delayed it. Since then, Romney has brought up a host of objections and released Massachusetts' own plan to reduce greenhouse gases from the state's six dirtiest power plants.

 
That plan, described in detail yesterday, would make Massachusetts the first state with carbon dioxide limits.

 
Romney's plan, however, includes thresholds that would allow power plants to exceed emission limits if the cost of controlling them becomes too high, a provision he and some businesses say will keep energy costs realistic.

Source: http://www.boston.com/news/...

DEC 15 2005
https://www.windaction.org/posts/723-mass-pulls-out-of-agreement-to-cut-power-plant-emissions-romney-sought-caps-on-penalties
back to top