If this sounds like a bright idea to you, Governor Lynch may have some good news. He’s pushing to make NoNH a little more like SoCal, but not in terms of sun, sand, and surf. More along the lines of bankrupting the state and creating a horrible business climate that forces you to launch cheesy ad campaigns begging tourists to come and bail you out.
So what am I talking about? A pie-in-the-sky environmental policy called a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), which would essentially try to force people to use biofuels (think ethanol – an industry already heavily subsidized by the government) and electric cars by cutting off or drastically limiting access to gasoline and diesel. Now doesn’t that sound realistic?
While it would do wonders for the bicycle industry, a program like this would spell certain doom for the many New Hampshire small businesses who rely on affordable fuel sources to operate, and working families who need to drive their kids to school and heat their homes.
The process to implement LCFS would be very similar to that of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which faced a serious but ultimately unsuccessful repeal effort during this past legislative session.
Here’s how it would work: Gov. Lynch signed an agreement with the governors of 11 Northeastern states to consider enacting a low-carbon standard, which was supposed to be done by early 2011. Then, an independent Boston-based environmental group called Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) started working with the states’ environmental regulatory agencies (DES in NH’s case) to develop the framework. The bureaucratic process lumbered slowly on until this past April, when the preliminary framework was finally completed. It then went directly to DES, where the regulators there are working to draft the actual specific proposal for New Hampshire. Once they finish with that and the Governor gives the green light to go forward, the proposed pact would go to the legislature for approval.
Now, maybe this seemingly endless bureaucratic wrangling lasts longer than our current Governor, but that may be wishful thinking. The fact is that while much has been made of the legislature’s conservatism, and the House has certainly tried to capture that mantra, when push came to shove they couldn’t get rid of RGGI.
A recent study performed by research firm Charles River Associates estimates that in the first decade alone, LCFS will cost between 750,000 and 1.3 million jobs in the 11-state region and drive gas prices up by up to 170 percent – numbers that would make any politician with thoughts of reelection queasy. That might explain why a Nancy Pelosi-led Congress rejected LCFS as too extreme for inclusion in the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which in itself was billed as an over-the-top and business unfriendly environmental policy. Too far to the left for Pelosi – now that’s an accomplishment!
Getting serious for a minute, we live in New Hampshire. We love family outings to Mt. Washington, hiking, fishing, enjoying the lakes in the summer months, and winter sports in the snow. Enjoying the Great Outdoors is a huge part of what makes the Granite State a great place to live, so of course we want to develop green technology to preserve our environment. But we can’t do it on the backs of small business owners and workers.
Belief in the free market is a core component of what makes America great, and something we’ve always adhered to in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state. Beyond ensuring public safety, the government, whether federal or state, needs to let the market determine which forms of energy are commercially viable and quit picking winners and losers on the taxpayers’ dime.