New York Governor Patterson last week announced a plan to divert $90 million in funds raised from New York’s share of RGGI auctions to deficit reduction. The reaction was not positive from environmental NGOs, who are understandably concerned about the “precedent-setting nature of this move.”
It shouldn’t really be surprising in these times of fiscal challenge for state governments. It’s no different than what happened with the diversion of money from tobacco settlements away from smoking prevention programs to deficit reduction.
The interesting questions will be whether other states follow New York’s lead and whether this has any effect on the debate in Congress regarding preemption of state and regional trading programs in the context of a federal cap-and-trade program.