The fever among Northeastern progressives to join cap-and-trade initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions appears to be cooling considerably as two of the country’s most left-leaning states backed away from two programs lauded by some environmentalists. 

In Connecticut, Democratic Governor Ned Lamont effectively quashed any likelihood his state would participate in the Transportation and Climate Initiative as energy prices spike. TCI’s aim is to limit emissions produced from vehicles and tax fuel providers.

“Look, I couldn’t get that through when gas prices were at a historic low,” the governor said at a press conference this week. “So, I think legislators are pretty clear it’s going to be a tough rock to push when gas prices are so high.”

Lawmakers in the state may still pursue legislation that would put the state in the compact, but with Lamont clearly signaling his hesitation it’s hard to see how TCI would come to fruition in Connecticut.

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Not long after Lamont’s announcement, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, also threw in the towel, pulling his state out of the TCI.

The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a fiscally conservative policy group, noted in a study discussing projected fuel shortages if TCI were to be put into effect that regulators were aiming to force citizens out of their gas- and diesel-powered vehicles.

“MA Climate Czar David Ismay accidentally said the quiet part out loud when he told climate activists that in order to get MA residents to reduce emissions, the state needed to ‘break your will’ and ‘put the screws’ to people,” the report said.

Ismay’s admitted goal of bending Americans to the progressive will brings to mind recent comments by Saule Omarova, President Biden’s nominee for Comptroller of the Currency. In a February video interview, Omarova said “we want them to go bankrupt,” referring to small energy companies. 

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf continues to push the state into another cap-and-trade scheme called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Wolf ordered the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to join RGGI in 2019. The program would force energy producers like power plants to buy an “allowance” for CO2 emissions from the state.

At the time, Wolf said he would “take buy-in from the legislature to ensure we’re protecting Pennsylvanians from the increasing effects of the climate crisis.” 

That buy-in never materialized and both Republicans and Democrats in Harrisburg have supported legislation that would bar RGGI’s regulations without legislative approval. The Wolf administration has not only ignored this resistance despite its previous admission of needing legislative support, but is ignoring voters overall who have been willing to strip the governor’s powers when he displays a go-it-alone attitude.

The Wolf administration has not only ignored this resistance… but is ignoring voters overall who have been willing to strip the governor’s powers when he displays a go-it-alone attitude.

We have to wonder what it will take for Gov. Wolf to get the message that the people of Pennsylvania do not like executive fiats such as RGGI? If voters in his own state and a bipartisan majority of legislators in the General Assembly don’t matter to him, perhaps the signals sent in November by Virginia and New Jersey voters and the actions of the governors in Connecticut and Massachusetts will. 

One can only wonder what conversations between Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro — the presumed Democratic nominee for the 2022 governor’s race — sound like.

After all, it was just last month when Shapiro threw doubt on whether he’d support RGGI — well, at least during the campaign.

“We need to take real action to address climate change, protect and create energy jobs and ensure Pennsylvania has reliable, affordable, and clean power for the long term,” Shapiro said in a statement. “As governor, I will implement an energy strategy which passes that test, and it’s not clear to me that RGGI does.”

Keep in mind, Shapiro’s statement came before the Nov. 2 rebuke of progressive policies in the Garden State and elsewhere, in which New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy barely escaped falling to an underfunded Republican challenger.

“Even liberals don’t want to pay more for energy to make an insignificant reduction in global emissions,” the Wall Street Journal editorial pages wrote. “Washington State voters have twice shot down a carbon tax. This summer the Swiss rejected higher taxes on driving and flying in a referendum. Maybe the death of fossil fuels that we’ve been told is inevitable isn’t so inevitable.”

Politically speaking, Wolf and his fellow Democrats should let RGGI die.

But that would be the sensical thing to do, something that’s in short supply on the left flank of American elected officials lately.

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