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New York State Hits $16.9 Million Jackpot on Latest Carbon Auction

New York State made $16.9 million in the latest auction of carbon dioxide credits under the cap-and-trade system known as Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Although the monies generated from these auctions is suppose to help New Yorkers lower their energy costs, and create "Green" jobs in the state, it is doubtful that the latest auction dollars will be used as intended.

A poor precedent was set last year when Gov. Paterson took $90 million from the money generated by the program and used it to help close the projected state budget deficit of nearly $50 billion through March 2013.

Since the first RGGI (pronounced "reggie") auction held in September, 2008, New York has collected $282 million, the most of any of the 10 participating Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states.

Officials at the NY Dept of Environmental Conservation issued a statement saying that "dipping into the environmental pool of money was a necessity in a moment of crisis and is not expected to happen again." The statement also noted that more than "80 percent of the auction proceeds were being invested in strategic energy programs like 'EmPower New York,' which helps households do energy audits and save on their energy bills by upgrading equipment and improving insulation," among other steps.

Peter Iwanowicz, the department's acting commissioner said: "RGGI continues to demonstrate we can take market-based actions to limit our carbon footprint and lay the groundwork for a clean energy economy."

Under the program, the 10 states agreed to cap carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants and charge the plants for the emissions they produce. As an incentive for the plants to pollute less, the states allow those that cut their emissions below the cap level to sell or trade their excess carbon allowances through online auctions four times a year.