The secrets ten states, Wall Street, don’t want you to know

Mark Lagerkvist

Secrecy and greed are polluting the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation’s first mandatory cap-and-trade system.  Under the RGGI scheme, the smell of profiteering is powerful.  New Jersey and nine other Northeast states have sold $662 million in carbon dioxide permits since 2008.

The bidders at RGGI auctions include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase and other Wall Street heavyweights.  They hope to make big money by speculating on the price of permits, called allowances. Electric power plants are required to obtain an allowance for each ton of CO-2 they emit.

But exactly who is buying what at these auctions?  How much of the carbon market have they cornered?  What effect will the wheeling and dealing have on the electricity bills paid by consumers?

That’s none of our business, according to the bureaucrats in charge.  They denied New Jersey Watchdog’s Open Public Records Act requests for auction details, contending the bidders’ “expectation of privacy” and “trade secrets” outweigh the public right to know.

RGGI executive director Jonathan Schrag claims RGGI is not a “public body” subject to state open records laws – even though it’s a non-profit cooperative created and governed by the states of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Delaware and Maryland.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection contends it “does not have documents responsive to (the) request in its possession.” Reached by telephone while vacationing, Schrag expressed surprise at NJDEP’s statement.  He said RGGI provides details of auction particulars to all 10 states.

State officials were ready with more hot air: “Even if the documents requested were in the possession of NJDEP…requested items would also be subject to confidentiality as trade secrets,” the agency argued in its written response.

“Balancing the interests of the ten signatory states…and the potential harm to the performance of the auctions against the private right to access and disclosure of such documents, the private right to access would be outweighed by the public interest in confidentiality of any records maintained by RGGI Inc.,” concluded NJDEP.

Read also Will New Jersey Do the Right Thing On Cap-and-Trade? at Americans for Prosperity.

Comments are closed.