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NY Diverts "Green" Funding To Close Budget Gap

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-937289.mp3

Albany, NY – Money that was earmarked to fight global warming has been sidetracked to offset New York's budget deficit. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports the state has been dipping into its Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funding...

New York is one of ten northeastern states participating in the initiative, nicknamed "REGGIE" - which has provided $729 million in revenues to its member state governments. States are supposed to use the funds to help ratepayers save money by becoming more energy efficient.

But cash-strapped New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire, have dipped into REGGIE to balance their budgets. In New York's case, diverting 90 million dollars of REGGIE money to keep public safety workers and teachers employed.

Critics, like Phil Kerpin, vice-president for policy with the group "Americans for Prosperity" - say that funneling the money into general funding turns the process in a wrong direction, effectively resulting in a "hidden tax" on electricity, during a time when carbon pollution declined nearly 20 percent and energy bills rose imperceptibly.

Peter Iwanowicz, policy adviser to the Governor on environmental matters and also serving as acting commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, says there won't be any future raids on REGGIE funds. Iwanowicz expects the initiative will be more dedicated toward the statutory program, called "Green Jobs, Green New York," intended to create local "green" jobs for projects like insulating homes and solar panel installations.