Cap And Trade Group (RGGI) Overstates Its Accomplishments

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, aka Reggie) has posted “New Study: Carbon Cap and Trade Has Saved Lives”.  (The  RGGI posting can be seen at the end of this posting.).  RGGI has a membership of nine states, that have collectively set caps on greenhouse gas emissions.    RGGI states that they have cut emissions by 37%, lowered electricity prices, saved lives and improved the health of vast number of people.  Actually the emission cut is essentially too tiny to measure in the big picture.   Data from the US Department of Energy makes the claim of lower electricity prices questionable and the improved health unsubstantiated.  Let’s examine RGGI’s  claims.

The following chart has been prepared using data from  the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

CO2 Emission in millions of metric tons.   Data from Department of Energy,      
State 2008 2014               %                delta, metric tons
Connecticut 37.7 35.1 -7 -2.6
Delaware 16.2 13.3 -18 -2.9
Maine 19.1 16.6 -13 -2.5
Maryland 73.8 61.5 -17 -12.8
Massachusetts 76.7 63.9 -17 -13.1
New Hampshire 18.7 15 -20 -3.7
New York 190 169.7 -11 -20.3
Rhode Island 10.7 10.6 -1 -0.1
Vermont 5.9 5.9 0 0
RGGI CO2 EMISSIONS 448.8 391.6 -12.3 -58
US CO2 EMISSIONS** 6022 5489 -8.9 -533
GLOBAL CO2 EMISSIONS** 29728 33355 12.2 3627
** 2007 rather than 2008

The nine States that make up the RGGI are listed.  RGGI’s stated goal  is to reduce emissions from fossil fuel powered electrical generation facilities.  The numbers in the above chart are for the all sources of CO2 emissions in each state. The period from 2008 to 2014 is used because that is the range used in the current (September 2016) RGGI report: “The Investment of RGGI Proceeds Through

The total reduction of CO2 emissions for the RGGI group States for the period from 2008 to 2014 are 58 million metric tons.  That looks impressive but in the big picture, it is a drop in vast atmospheric ocean.  During the time that these 58 million metric tons were not emitted, the global addition was estimated at somewhere around 210,ooo million metric tons.  The net effect is too small to  measure.  The EIA estimates that China and India will emit 11,460 million metric tons of CO2 in 2017 and they are forecast at 11,705 million in 2018.  And former President Obama signed a pact with China that allows them to continue increasing their emissions until 2030 while the US is to reduce its emissions some twenty percent.  Isn’t that a “great” deal?

The RGGI is a “cap and trade” program.  When the US Congress rejected a “cap and trade” program sponsored by ex President Obama, these States developed the RGGI program which was fully operable by 2008.  They reduce the amount of CO2 each year that these power plants can emit.  The reduction has varied but is nominally about 3% per year. If other facilities in their States have a CO2 baseline than exceeds their needs, they can sell it through RGGI to the highest bidder.   These “CO2 allowance”  sold last year at about $3.30/ton.   The income from these sales so far is about $2.5billion. Obviously, this is a State revenue scheme.  RGGI uses this money to insulate homes, put in renewable energy systems, help some people pay their power bills among other things.  In 2014, paying the bills of low income families was nearly non-existent except in Vermont where 98% of their share of the income from sales of CO2 Allowances was used to help single family homes with bills and home efficiency improvements.  It appears that RGGI’s installation of renewable energy systems are a major user of the funds from sales of CO2 Allowances.  So, they probably off-set the cost of installation of solar cells., for example.  One of the States has just set up a deal with Solar One to install these systems. Most of the installations of roof top solar systems that I have  seen are made in communities where affluent people live.  Are the wealthy benefiting the most from RGGI’s programs?

The RGGI posting also said that “Recent assessments of the program have shown none of the negative economic impacts that some feared at the outset.  In contrast, economies in RGGI states have actually grown faster than in other states. Electricity costs have declined by a few percent, on average .”

Using the EIA data for the Average Price Electricity to Ultimate Customer by End Use Sectors for the YEAR 2015—Cents per Kilowatt-hour we constructed this chart:

STATE Residential* Commercial Industrial Transport
Connecticut 20.94 15.97 12.95 13.18
Massachusetts 19.83 15.79 13.54 7.76
Rhode Island 19.29 15.78 13.76 18.54
New York 18.54 15.31 6.31 12.95
New Hampshire 18.50 14.96 12.74 —–
Vermont 17.09 14.54 10.27 —–
California 16.99 15.73 12.17 8.99
New Jersey 15.81 12.79 10.64 10.25
Maine 15.61 12.47 9.05 ——
Michigan 14.42 10.55 7.02 11.44
Wisconsin 14.11 10.89 7.58 14.66
Maryland 13.82 11.00 8.53 8.34
Pennsylvania 13.64 9.60 7.20 7.28
Delaware 13.42 10.25 8.28 —–

In Bold are the 9 RGGI States. 

New Jersey, once in the RGGI, dropped out.

(*Beginning with Connecticut, these 14 States have the highest residential rates in the continental US.  (Hawaii and Alaska are the only other States with higher residential rates.)

There must be other things going on to make the statement that the RGGI States “economies are growing faster than in other states.”  It does not look like the electricity prices would be favorable.  I am surprised that the prices for 6 of the RGGI States are higher than those in California.

Another part of the posting by RGGI alleged health benefits.

The following are the health benefits that RGGI lists in their posting:

“Abt Associates used mathematical models to estimate the scale of such health benefits, and found that RGGI has averted:

  • 300 – 830 premature adult deaths
  • 35 – 390 heart attacks
  • 8,200 – 9,900 asthma exacerbations
  • 13,000 – 16,000 respiratory illnesses”


Models!!  UGH!   Anyway, the EPA has a model based upon some secret science that generates these figures. It is 2.5 micron particles that are inhaled that are supposed to cause these health issues.  The EPA is using this secret science to try to put out of existence, all fossil fuel generated electricity.  The EPA has issued regulations that are called the Clean Power Plan. These regulations have been  stayed by several courts.   The Courts along with President Trump’s support, may withdraw the Clean Power Plan.

Before delving into the secret science, let’s lok at what a stretch RGGI is making.  The atmosphere is well mixed and CO2 and these 2.5 micron particles are pretty much in the same amounts in most places around the world. So, it is unlikely that the atmosphere in the RGGI regions is any different from any place else. Nothing the RGGI is doing can be having a measurable effect on the air the people breath, hence the claim is not viable. Remember how small the actual RGGI emission reduction is.

I have made two postings on the Clean Power Plan.  The EPA claims  mercury and 2.5 micron particles are dangerous .  Thus they must be removed from the emissions by fossil fuel (particularily coal) electrical generating plants.  The EPA limit on mercury lacks a good scientific basis.  Click here to review my posting on mercury.   The following is from one of my  posting on the 2.5-micron particle which discusses the secret science the EPA is using.  Cllick here to read it in its entiretly.


In this case the toxins are particulate matter—2.5microns (PM2.5) or smaller in diameter.   For perspective, how big is a 2.5micron particle? 2.5 microns are equal to 0.00025 centimeters or 0.000099 inches. Yes, you are right, you can’t see them.

The EPA touts a study that says PM2.5 is dangerous, but they won’t share all the study data with anyone. Thus, no other science body can confirm or deny the studies results.  Secret Science. We are told we must take their word for it.

The EPA found it necessary to get a friendly team to do this study because other work, including some of their own, shows no harm. This particular study group has done “friendly” work for the EPA and the American Lung Association. One of principal authors has received over $31 million in payments from the EPA for his studies.   (No energy company can match the EPA and other government bodies when it comes to paying for studies.) The study is called the Harvard 6 Cities Study and this is what Dr Battig** said about it in his posting on WUWT titled “A Physician’s Perspective on the EPA’s “Data Derangement Syndrome”:

“The Harvard Six Cities Study (Laden et al 2006) forms the scientific basis for much of the EPA claims regarding PM toxicology. Yet examination of the data shows that the statistical relative risk (RR) for total mortality claims range from below one to barely above one and a fraction. They do not meet the minimum legal standard of a RR of 2 to identify a significant population risk. In addition, these Harvard studies have walled-off their raw clinical data from independent investigators by claiming patient confidentiality, thereby preventing duplication of results by others. Independent reproducibility and verification of test results are the traditional hallmarks of scientific research. Invoking patient confidentiality to block access to raw data casts doubt on the entire process since providing such patient protection is not particularly difficult.”

Not only will they not allow examination of all the data, the study’s RR does not meet minimum legal standards and yet they want to impose it on us.

Dr Battig adds this:

“The EPA has been conducting controlled human exposure studies to air pollutants on the University of North Carolina campus for more than thirty years. During that time more than six-thousand volunteers have been studied without a single serious adverse event being observed…so is there a health problem to investigate or not? How much more testing looking to define a disease? It looks more like a disease concept in search of a susceptible victim”.

At the 10th International Conference on Climate Change, Dr Battig; Scientific Integrity Institute President James Enstrom; and S. Stanley Young, a fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science did an outstanding panel discussion on this topic. posted “Conference Panelists Criticize EPA Health Scares” written by ALYSSA CARDUCCI carried this insight from S Stanley Young:

“After examining reams of data, Young concluded the threats of air pollution, PM2.5, and ozone contributing to deaths are “imaginary”.

Young received “the biggest data sets on the planet” to study the effects of air pollution on human health in California. The dataset included 13 years of data on eight California air basins and daily electronic death certificates equaling more than two million certificates and a total of 37,000 days of exposure.

Using standard statistical techniques, Young and two other statisticians found there were “no acute or chronic effect on deaths in California.”

“I call this a fact,” Young said. “We have the biggest data set on the planet for looking at this, and there is no effect.

“If air pollution was a killer, it would be killing everywhere, and the fact that we’ve established that it’s not killing in California puts every other paper at risk for the claims that they have made,” Young said.

Dr Battig adds:

“In view of EPA PM2.5 mortality claims at 35µg/m3, why are airport smokers and the Shanghai population not dropping dead on the spot? Airport smoker lounges have ambient levels of 600µg to 10,000µg PM2.5. A single draw on a cigarette floods a smoker’s lungs with 10,000µg to 40,000µg. The Shanghai press reports PM outdoor levels of 600µg/m3. It also reports that the average life expectancy there is 82.5 years…a life expectancy greater than any major U.S. city. Where are the overflowing emergency rooms and mortuaries?”

It’s clear that the EPA doesn’t have science to support this bill. Extensive testing by the EPA and in California for just two examples, show no correlation between PM2.5 and “premature death” or apparently, any deaths. The study they are using is by scientists that seem to be bought by the EPA. And obviously, they know that the study data cannot stand the light of day, hence it becomes another use of SECRET SCIENCE.

My take on RGGI is that it really has not done much for what they set out to do, and that was to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. Perhaps they recognized the futility of that objective and decided that the tax would work out just fine.  One more bureaucracy taxing and regulating.  Would it not have been better to just lower the price of electricity and rather than collecting money and trying to pick winners and losers?

The thrust of the posting by RGGI (see it in its entirety below)  was that they were saving lives.  Firstly, the basis for the saving lives is some secret science that would not need to be secret if was actually verifiable.  Secondly, the actual reduction of CO2 and related emissions is too small to have any effect what so ever.  Thirdly, because the atmosphere is well mixed, there never will be a pocket of significantly cleaner air just over the RGGI States.


** Dr Charles Battig resume

Charles Battig

Charles Battig is a retired physician with a postgraduate degree in electrical engineering. In the 1960s he served as principal scientist in bio-medical monitoring systems at North American Aviation Los Angeles in support of the Apollo Moon Mission. From 1967 to 1969, he held the rank of senior surgeon/commander in the U.S. Public Health Service at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, in the biomedical engineering branch. Following teaching appointments in anesthesiology at UCLA and Mt. Sinai,New York, he entered the private practice of anesthesiology until retirement. After re-settling in the Charlottesville, Virginia area, he undertook to provide an alternate voice on climate change issues in the backyard of the University of Virginia, the former home of both Patrick Michaels and Michael Mann.


New Study: Carbon Cap And Trade Has Saved Lives


Living Lab on The Point



A new study this week finds that a regional carbon cap and trade system has saved hundreds of lives and billions of dollars for New Englanders. Officials from the nine participating states are currently working out the future of the program.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced Reggie, for short) began in 2009. There are nine member states – all six New England states, plus New York, Delaware, and Maryland – that collectively set caps on greenhouse gas emissions, and then auctions off allowances for power plants to produce such carbon emissions. To date, participating states have cut emissions by 37% – two and a half times more than non-RGGI states.

Recent assessments of the program have shown none of the negative economic impacts that some feared at the outset. In contrast, economies in RGGI states have actually grown faster than in other states. Electricity costs have declined by a few percent, on average. And, the cap and trade program has generated $2.5 billion in revenue for participating states.

Now, a new study says it has also produced health benefits. It’s a logical conclusion; power plants that emit greenhouse gases also produce particulate air pollution that is linked to adverse health effects, such as asthma, respiratory illnesses, and heart attacks. Conversely, limits on greenhouse gas emissions would be expected to reduce air pollution and their related health impacts.

Abt Associates used mathematical models to estimate the scale of such health benefits, and found that RGGI has averted:

  • 300 – 830 premature adult deaths
  • 35 – 390 heart attacks
  • 8,200 – 9,900 asthma exacerbations
  • 13,000 – 16,000 respiratory illnesses

Since people who are sick (or worse, dead) can’t work, these health benefits also have ramifications for workforce productivity. Abt Associates estimates that the avoided health problems resulted in somewhere between 39,000 and 47,000 regained work days.

Between the savings in health care costs and the restored productivity, Abt Associates says RGGI has saved participating states some $5.7 billion.

That’s one more piece of information RGGI supporters hope officials will factor in as they decide the future of the program. Current emissions caps expire in 2020, and the participating states are currently working to set new caps for 2021-2030. It had been hoped that a new plan, or at least proposal, would be in place by the end of 2016. The process has been delayed by a few months, in part to allow participating states to explore options if President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is struck down in the courts or abandoned by the incoming Trump administration.

Still, RGGI hasn’t fallen off the radar. Earlier this week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to cut the RGGI carbon cap 30 percent by 2030. That would be roughly 3 percent per year between 2021 and 2030. That’s less than the 5 percent annual reduction RGGI states have been averaging since 2005.

Last fall, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker called for maintaining the annual 5 percent reductions through 2030. This week, Peter Lorenz, a spokesperson for the Baker administration, said they remain committed to RGGI and the “objective of reducing carbon emissions while stabilizing energy bills, preserving electricity system reliability, and creating local jobs and economic growth.”


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