Friday, March 13, 2015

State budget will include emissions reductions funding

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 9:57 AM

State lawmakers have their eyes on a multi-state greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program as a source of revenue for the 2015-16 state budget.

According to an article published on Capital, the state political news website, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Senate have proposed sweeping funding from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative into the forthcoming state budget. Both want to use the money in part for general funding purposes and to replenish the state's Environmental Protection Fund.

And it looks like the Republican plan is the better of the two. Here's the breakdown, according to Capital:

Cuomo wants to take $36 million from RGGI. He'd use $23 million for the state's general fund and $13 million for the Environmental Protection Fund. 

The Senate would pull $64 million out of RGGI funds and direct $49 million to the Environmental Protection Fund, mostly for projects that cut greenhouse gas emissions. (In total, the Senate wants to fully fund the EPF at $200 million, according to Capital.)

The Senate program would sweep more money from RGGI, which gets it proceeds from the auction of carbon emissions allowances to power plants. And while these sorts of funding sweeps aren't really a good idea, at least the Senate wants to use the money similarly to how RGGI would use it. The program's proceeds are supposed to fund energy efficiency projects, projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and utility bill relief for consumers.

The budget proposals aren't final. The Senate and Assembly have passed their budgets and Cuomo has his proposal. Over the next few weeks, leaders will sit down and try to negotiate a plan that they can all agree on. Whether the RGGI sweep gets through in some form depends on how those talks go.

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