Keep track as progressive laws tangle Rhode Islanders and our economy up.

Gregory Booth, who works with the advocacy section of Rhode Island’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) makes a reasonable point when he suggests that it might not be in our state’s best interest to have National Grid sell its Ocean State electrical distribution business to another company that lacks its cross-state infrastructure, but that isn’t why Attorney General Peter Neronha opposes the deal:

The Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office says state regulators should block the sale of the state’s largest electric distribution utility until the buyer assures that it can comply with the state’s ambitious new climate law. …

In written testimony for the attorney general’s office, consultants Mark Ewen and Robert Knecht, principals at Industrial Economics, noted that the state’s Act on Climate, enacted into law earlier this year, sets one of the most aggressive goals for greenhouse gas reductions in the nation. And while PPL Corp. “appears to agree that it will need to undertake extraordinary efforts” to meet those goals, it has offered “little in the way of proposals” for doing so, they said.

The environmental activists who push the legislation don’t seem to care what the effects on human beings who live in and around Rhode Island will be, and politicians just want the activist support and campaign messaging that they’re “doing something” about climate change.  The broader swath of our population probably doesn’t think the policies through, seeing goals and greenhouse gas reduction targets as nice, but soft, statements of ambition, and that officials would never actually let them hurt actual people.

Take this story as a reminder, however, that these laws are starting to have real teeth, and the well-being of Rhode Islanders is not, even in principle, their primary purpose.  It can’t be, because Rhode Island’s effect on the global climate is negligible.  These laws are passed to please ideologues for votes and money and, even at their purest, to signal virtue.


Featured image by Justin Katz.

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