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Legislative Pulse: Fighting for Balanced Climate Education and Inexpensive, Reliable Electric Power in New Hampshire

April 3, 2020

If New Hampshire imposes a climate education requirement on public schools, it should be balanced, and emphasize critical thinking.

Editor’s Note: New Hampshire state Rep. Glenn Cordelli (R-Carroll) is serving his fourth term in the state’s House of Representatives. Cordelli’s primary policy focus has been on education, and he serves on the Committee on Education.

Burnett: New Hampshire is considering a bill to require a climate change curriculum be taught in the state’s public schools. What are the details of the bill and your thoughts on it?

Cordelli: New Hampshire’s climate education bill would have mandated a specific climate change curriculum in all New Hampshire public schools, starting in pre-K. It was clear both in the bill language and from the sponsor’s testimony that it was geared more to promoting the agenda of the sponsor than real education. The instruction on causes of climate change to be taught were solely manmade causes, with no provision for acknowledging or discussing natural causes.

With the assistance of The Heartland Institute, I proposed an amendment that specified presenting a balanced look at climate change with an emphasis on critical thinking. Our Education Committee last week voted to undertake an “Interim Study” on the bill, but with interest expressed in my proposed amendment. As with all bills in New Hampshire, it will go to the full House for a vote, and I expect a vote supporting the committee recommendation. As this is the second year of our two-year term, it will effectively kill the bill.

Burnett: Numerous studies show ratepayers in states with renewable power mandates—often innocuously referred to as renewable portfolio standards—pay more on average for electricity than states without such demands. New Hampshire has a renewable power mandate What are your thoughts on the wisdom of such a mandate?

Cordelli: As stated in your question, I agree studies do consistently show higher electric rates on average in states with renewable portfolio standards, such as New Hampshire. Our rates are some of the highest in the nation, and that impacts businesses as well as homeowners. Electric rates are one of the top concerns potential new businesses as well as current businesses always raise.

Biomass has been one of most discussed renewable classes in the past few years. Although it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and the plants are not efficient, it has been promoted as a valuable source for our renewable standards. A recent attempt to increase subsidies for this source was vetoed by our governor.

Burnett: New Hampshire is one of the states with membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). States in RGGI pay more for electricity on average than states rejecting carbon dioxide emissions cap-and-trade programs such as RGGI. Additionally, the evidence shows RGGI has done almost nothing to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions. What are your thoughts on RGGI and whether New Hampshire should be a part of it?

Cordelli: We have had several bills offered during the past few years to repeal RGGI, but none have been successful. One other approach proposed in the legislature to reduce the impact of RGGI on ratepayers, also unsuccessful, has been to increase New Hampshire’s share of the funds generated by the sale of RGGI auction proceeds that are rebated to ratepayers from 80 percent to 100 percent. I believe this would help reduce electricity costs as well as return money to the ratepayers.

Although proponents of RGGI have touted it as a free market system due to the auctions, with its reserve prices and cost-containment mechanisms, I disagree. My primary concern is for the ratepayers—businesses and homeowners—who are harmed, not helped, by New Hampshire’s participation in RGGI.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (hsburnett@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute.

Official Connections:

State Rep. Glenn Cordelli (R-Carroll): http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/member.aspx?member=377085; glenn.cordelli@leg.state.nh.us

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org

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