A cap and trade program is one option being explored by the United States as a method to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While legislation at the national level has yet to set up such a program, a group of states in the Northeast has started their own regional cap and trade system, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Under RGGI, emissions allowances are auctioned amongst participants who emit greenhouse gases. The revenue generated from the auction is in turn to be used to fund programs which support the use of clean and efficient energy.
The state of Maryland, a member of RGGI, has “broken the rules,” and is using the money from the auction to subsidize low-income family’s energy bills. Rather than using the income for its designated purpose, Maryland is prolonging the use of the energy sources contributing to global climate change. According to analysts, the state’s decision to use the money to help pay residents pay for energy is only a short-term fix, not a long-term solution.
Controversy over this issue will likely continue in the near future, as President Obama’s budget includes a proposal to start a national cap and trade system, from which the revenue generated by this auction will be given back to the taxpayers.