The Senate and the House of Representatives recently voted for legislation to address climate change by requiring Rhode Islanders to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they put into the atmosphere. The bill requires that the amount of greenhouse gases Rhode Island produces be reduced by 45 percent by 2030, by 80 percent by 2040 and reach net zero by 2050. The Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4), which is composed of primarily gubernatorial appointees, would come up with plans to achieve these reductions. Any state agency could be required by EC4 to adopt regulations to implement its plans. These plans would not require the approval of the General Assembly. If for any reason, Rhode Island could not achieve these reductions, anyone could file a law suit to force the reductions.
In 2016, EC4 published a plan on how to reduce greenhouse gases by 45 percent by 2035, and by 80 percent by 2050. To reduce greenhouse gases by 45 percent, we would need: (1) 33 percent of residential homes heating with electricity, and (2) 34 percent of motor vehicles being electric. To reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent, we would need: (1) 81 percent of residential homes heating with electricity, and (2) 76 percent of motor vehicles being electric. Rhode Island Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan (ri.gov). However, only about 1 percent of Rhode Island motor vehicles are electric and about 10 percent of Rhode Island residential homes use electric heat. Alternative Fuels Data Center: Maps and Data – Electric Vehicle Registrations by State (energy.gov); Rhode Island Profile (eia.gov)
The R.I. Republican Party has the following comments:
“We would like to commend the Republicans and the 13 House Democrats, who voted against this legislation. House Speaker Shekarchi represents solar developers and House Majority Leader Blazejewski represents the elite East Side of Providence. Hardworking Rhode Islanders however, will get stuck paying higher energy bills.
The cost of forcing consumers to heat their homes and drive their cars with renewable electricity is likely to be enormous. For example, the cost of installing an electric heat system can range from $19,700 to $34,200 Heating Sector Transformation in Rhode Island: Technical Support Document (ri.gov);https://www.ecori.org/climatechange/2020/4/27/930wijy3sfdsdilxhmsgxfjzpmg7wt. In some cases, it could reach as high as $50,000 to $100,000. HST Public Workshop 2-13-2020 Slides.pdf Rhode Island already gives off about second lowest amount of carbon dioxide in the country, and has about the fourth highest electric rates in the nation Rhode Island Profile (eia.gov), State Electricity Profiles – Energy Information Administration (eia.gov) Rhode Islanders should not be forced to pay billions more in energy costs to lower our state’s already low carbon dioxide levels.
Not only does this bill aim to force us to change how we live, but also how our government works. Instead of our elected representatives passing laws and being held accountable for their votes, these legislative cowards want bureaucrats to make the decisions so they can blame them when things go wrong. Things will go wrong. Government can mandate many things, but it can’t mandate technological innovation. Technological innovations must be cost-effective to be useful. Before we legally obligate ourselves to do something, shouldn’t we actually be sure that we can afford to do it. Rather than reaching for the stars, we may end leaping over a cliff. Look before you leap.”