The state of Massachusetts is quietly reaping the benefits of cap and trade, the much-maligned process for curbing greenhouse gas emissions that federal lawmakers and many state governments resoundingly rejected in recent years. According to a recent study, cap and trade has created 3,800 jobs and nearly $500 million in economic activity for Massachusetts since 2008.
Massachusetts belongs to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the first and only mandatory carbon emissions trading scheme in America. A report analyzing data from the first three years of the effort found that of the 10 participating Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, Massachusetts benefited most economically, because it used the bulk of its money to help fund its aggressive energy efficiency agenda.
"Energy efficiency investments have a much bigger multiplier effect than any other category of spending," said Paul Hibbard, vice president of the Analysis Group, the Boston-based consulting firm that prepared the report. When homeowners and businesses used RGGI dollars to retrofit and weatherize buildings, they not only ended up saving on energy costs and spending money elsewhere in the economy—they also put contractors and installers to work.
RGGI "is a very successful program … and we look forward to continue achieving those results," Mark Sylvia, commissioner of Massachusetts' Department of Energy Resources, told InsideClimate News.