The regional cap-and-tax scheme called the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a bad deal for New Hampshire, the initiative organizers’ own projections show.

Modeled on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the TCI would cap carbon emissions from transportation sources (vehicles) and force fuel distributors to buy carbon allowances. A declining cap would force distributors to buy more allowances annually. The hope is to compel a switch to non-fossil fuels or to discourage driving by making it uncomfortably expensive.

Naturally, the costs of buying the allowances would be passed on to consumers. In effect, the TCI imposes an additional fossil fuel tax on top of the state and federal gas taxes consumers already pay.

The cost to consumers would be enormous. On December 17th, the TCI organizers released the results of their own analysis of the program’s impact. They project that the carbon allowances would generate revenue of between $1.4 billion and $5.6 billion annually in the 12-state TCI region (plus the District of Columbia), which covers Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states, including New Hampshire.

That would be a cost of between $14 billion and $56 billion over the decade spanning from 2022-2032.

But the TCI organizers’ own projections show that almost all of the carbon emissions reduction projected during that decade can be attributed to existing trends and not to the TCI scheme.

In August, they projected a baseline reduction in carbon emissions of “roughly 20 percent” without the TCI.

“Total gasoline and diesel consumption and CO2 emissions both fall by roughly 20% from 2022 through 2032 as a result of increased fuel economy in light and heavy-duty vehicles and increased LDV EV shares,” according to the organizers’ own analysis. (LDV EV = light duty vehicle electric vehicle.)

In a presentation released on December 17th, TCI organizers projected that the TCI would cause carbon emissions to fall by approximately 1-5 percentage points above the roughly 20 percent that will occur under existing policies.

The worst-case scenario projection was a 20 percent drop in carbon emissions from 2022-2032, which could be as little as a fraction of a percentage point above the baseline projection. The best-case scenario projection was a 25 percentage point reduction, which would be, at best, 6 percentage points above the baseline.

Understanding the baseline is critical because groups that support the TCI are already claiming it will produce up to a 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions in the region. That is false. Roughly 4/5ths of that reduction will happen anyway, the TCI organizers’ own projections show.

At best, the TCI would reduce carbon emissions of a little more than 5 percent in 10 years — at a cost of $56 billion in that best-case scenario. Without the TCI, carbon emissions are projected to fall by roughy four times that amount. If the TCI’s worst-case scenario occurs, the cost would be $14 billion to achieve an emissions reduction roughly 1/20th the size of what would happen anyway.

The TCI organizers projected that their initiative would cause gas taxes to rise by 5-17 cents per gallon if distributors passed the costs on to consumers (which they would). That seemingly small figure would extract billions of dollars from the economy, giving it to governments to distribute to projects that they favor but that consumers might not. In fact, the whole point is to replace consumer and investor choices with those made by government officials.

The program’s assumed effectiveness relies heavily on the premise that government officials will spend billions of dollars in ways proven to be effective at generating additional carbon reductions. Not only would those projects have to be effective on their own, they would have to be more effective than the choices that otherwise would have been made by business, entrepreneurs and consumers in the absence of the TCI.

Rather than forcibly extract billions of dollars from consumers in yet another heavy-handed attempt to control people’s behavior, governments should scrap this carbon tax scheme and let the market continue to generate solutions.

1 reply
  1. Deanne says:

    Good for Sununu and good for New Hampshire … on this one, at least. But if New Hampshire is so very “less prone to think up clever ways to separate citizens from their money,” then how is it that we have the people “not-representing-us” in Washington D. C. that we do…?

    I talked at length with a farmer in Vermont today who is planning to move to New Hampshire. She is sick of Vermont’s oppressive, restrictive, punitive government. A young visitor to her farm needed to relieve himself. She offered for him to use her own personal bathroom in her house. The mother posted something on Facebook about their wonderful visit and the farmer’s kindness in letting the little boy use her bathroom. Some state official, apparently with nothing better to do than look around for trouble, sent her a letter of reprimand and a fine because she doesn’t have publicly-approved water facilities or some dumb thing. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She is getting out.

    So, yes, I’m glad I don’t live under Vermont’s government, but New Hampshire is not a whole lot better. A friend of mine recently erected a yurt. Two days ago, he received a letter from the building inspector, so he called the man who made all sorts of ridiculous demands, saying the structure is not federally approved, that he needs a septic system, that he can’t sleep in the yurt overnight, that he can’t rent it out, and other gibberish. This is what New Hampshire is coming to. Interestingly, the state of New Hampshire has a campground at which they have four yurts that they rent out, which do not have plumbing or septic, and that people actually SLEEP IN OVERNIGHT… Incredible, isn’t it? And yet this cocky New Hampshire building inspector is telling a private person that he can’t do on his own land what the state of New Hampshire CHARGES other people to do.

    So, it isn’t quite as bad here in some regards, but unfortunately, New Hampshire isn’t far behind.

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