Mass. climate agenda takes Election Day hits

Votes in Maine, Virginia disrupt Bay State energy policy

ONE OF THE MOST consequential results for Massachusetts from last Tuesday’s election actually occurred in Maine.

By a margin of approximately 59-41 percent, Maine residents voted to prohibit Central Maine Power’s attempt to construct new, high impact electric transmission lines through the Upper Kennebec region of the state. The transmission lines would carry hydro-electricity produced in Quebec through Maine and into the regional power grid. Mainers would have seen a portion of their beloved wilderness clear cut in order to help Massachusetts achieve its arbitrary climate goals. Maine was already the contingency plan for this project, as similar attempts had already failed in New Hampshire.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker made the Canadian hydro-electric power that the Maine project promised to deliver the linchpin of his energy policy in Massachusetts moving forward. While this project was underway, his administration simultaneously pushed for the Transportation and Climate Initiative, or TCI, gas tax scheme to complement it. TCI will result in the reduction of gasoline and diesel fuels coming into Massachusetts in hopes that the prices go up high enough that more motorists are forced to stop driving or buy electric vehicles.

Massachusetts is the only state “fully committed” to joining TCI; the governors of Rhode Island and Connecticut signed their states up but still have not received authorizations to join from their state legislatures.

The demise of the CMP corridor creates a problem for the governor’s plans. You cannot have TCI without some kind of new, steady supply of electricity. Continuing with TCI without a new source of electricity will force people to go from using gas-fueled vehicles to electric without the electricity to conveniently use them.  In this regard, TCI will now punish both working class people forced to subsidize new electric vehicles, as well as affluent elites who want to drive them.

The results from Maine weren’t the only setback for TCI to come out of Tuesday’s elections. The results of Virginia’s gubernatorial election will make proceeding with TCI even harder. Last December, the Democratic governor of Virginia agreed to participate in discussions with TCI, but not join. Tuesday’s election of Republican Glenn Youngkin as the next governor of Virginia is a monumental blow to the future of TCI in the region, as he is likely to cut all ties with TCI.

The Virginia state legislature is also expected to flip to Republican control, further cementing TCI’s death in Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region. This signals another blow to the effectiveness of TCI, which requires large population states such as Virginia to join to remain viable.

Meet the Author

Paul D. Craney

Board Member & Spokesman, Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance
While these losses will probably not persuade Baker to withdraw Massachusetts from TCI, it certainly reconfirms that voters do not support TCI and other climate policies that inflict economic harm to ordinary people. It’s more obvious than ever that these taxes and regulations are bad policy and worse politics.

Paul Diego Craney is the spokesperson for Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.