A Report on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

A new report is touting the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) for helping cut carbon dioxide emissions in the Northeast. The news is somewhat hazy for Rhode Island, however, and overall the data show that the cap-and-trade program is still a work in progress.

Environment Northeast (ENE), a nonprofit that tracks the 10-state, carbon-cutting RGGI program, said emissions from power plants are down 11 percent from last year, and are well below a cap set in 2009. The reason, ENE stated, is power plants are burning more natural gas and less high carbon-packed fuels such as coal and oil. Renewable energy, mild weather and improvements in energy efficiency also are being credited for helping reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

All good things for cutting carbon pollution, but much of the progress appears to derive from a single factor: the price of natural gas. Since 2005, natural gas prices have dropped significantly below coal and oil. As of Dec. 31, gas was about four times cheaper than oil.
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Ed Med

We were invited to a presentation this morning by the Rhode Island Governor, Lincoln Chafee, and the State’s Economic Development Corporation. In the Governor’s opening remarks he emphasized wanting to take advantage of “where the economic growth action is….Ed Med”. For us non-economic opportunist, Ed Med is education and medical industry – primarily academic medical research developments.

From my perspective…and accepting the importance of medical and educational advancements…I know of no other industrial economies that are more troubled and inflated than medical costs and educational costs. I would be willing to bet (and I don’t gamble) that the moment RI commits to huge infrastructure and development investments in Ed/Med…the whole system goes into cardiac arrest.

An article on college costs.

Organic Tomatoes in the Winter

The explosive growth in the commercial cultivation of organic tomatoes here (Mexico), for example, is putting stress on the water table. In some areas, wells have run dry this year, meaning that small subsistence farmers cannot grow crops. And the organic tomatoes end up in an energy-intensive global distribution chain that takes them as far as New York and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, producing significant emissions that contribute to global warming.

From now until spring, farms from Mexico to Chile to Argentina that grow organic food for the United States market are enjoying their busiest season.

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