Avoiding false choices – seeing the value of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Seth Kaplan

One of the easiest ways to make bad decisions is to allow ourselves to be drawn into a false choice – to see two options as an “either/or” where seeking one goal means stepping away from another. This can be a false choice because, fortunately, sometimes making the right decision will yield a double benefit.

When we have an opportunity to reduce energy use and harmful emissions while building jobs and the economy we encounter that kind of golden moment: when the right choice yields double, triple and even quadruple benefits.

There are people who will reject this formulation – who will present that most fundamental of false choices: the flawed argument that making the right choice for our environment and the public health is bad for the economic health of our communities and building jobs.

We are surrounded by proof that economic benefit flows from the same actions that reduce dirty energy use and emissions. The nation-leading energy efficiency programs funded by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which have created jobs while slashing the energy bills of families and businesses of the Northeast is a prime example.  A recent report issued by the states participating in RGGI (described here) provides hard numbers documenting this happy phenomena.

But we can do far better – and we need to if we are going to address the fundamental challenge of global warming and if we are going build the new economic base that can provide jobs and financial security for the future. Building that cleaner and more secure future will mean building on the successes of RGGI, making it more effective in reducing emissions and creating even more investment in energy efficiency so it slashes even more customer bills and creates even more jobs.

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