In a somewhat controversial move, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will take the $70 million the state received from auctioning off carbon permits and distribute it to lower income residents to help them pay their power bills.
Maryland is part of the 10 state alliance called RGGI that sells carbon permits. The group raised $117 million in its most recent auction. On RGGI’s website, they say that money from the auction is to be used “to support low-carbon-intensity solutions, including energy efficiency and clean renewable energy, such as solar and wind power.”
Using the money to pay off bills is at odds with the purpose of RGGI’s carbon auction. By paying for lower electric bills, Maryland doesn’t reduce emissions, it subsidizes them. It’s also short sighted. Instead of putting that money towards projects that could make buildings more efficient and in turn drive down costs over the long run for residents, it’s providing a short term crutch for residents.
During a tough economic period, it’s difficult to sell the idea of long term incremental gains through efficiency. Cutting a check that can be used immediately to lower bills is an easy political solution, but in the long run it is worse for the state and its residents.
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