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Senate upholds Lynch veto blocking RGGI repeal

State House Bureau Chief

September 07. 2011 3:17PM

CONCORD - The Senate failed to override Gov. John Lynch's veto of an attempt to repeal the state's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The 15-9 vote was one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto of Senate Bill 154. Senate President Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, sided with Lynch.

The Senate had attempted a reform of the program rather than outright repeal in June, but the House refused to compromise.

House leaders said they will be back with another repeal attempt next year. Speaker of the House William O'Brien called the RGGI cap-and-trade system an "income redistribution ploy."

RGGI is a system in which power companies must buy allowances for carbon-dioxide emissions at auction. The auction proceeds are distributed regionally for use in energy-efficiency programs. The cost to consumers is about 35 cents a month.

The veto was one of six the Senate took up Wednesday. It also dealt with vetoes of a deadly force bill, voter photo ID, residential fire sprinklers, car title lending and public pension reform. The House has to concur on each of the overrides by a two-thirds majority for the bills to become law.

Veterans urged the state to remain in the RGGI program, saying it is a matter not only of energy efficiency, but national security.

Sen. Gary Lambert, R-Nashua, a retired Marine Corps colonel, said the U.S. sends $700 million a day to oil-producing countries, many of which are not friendly powers.

"Some of it likely finds its way to terrorists targeting our own troops," he said.

Lambert said that the 35 cents per month charge on electric bills has generated $31 million in auction proceeds that have been reinvested in energy projects.

If the state leaves RGGI, he said, "New Hampshire consumers would continue to subsidize the program while at the same losing out on an estimated $12 million in proceeds each year."

Retired Rear Adm. Larry C. Baucom said the nation needs become more self-sufficient in energy. Besides funding unfriendly governments with oil revenues, global warming produces political instability to which the U.S. must often respond.

The Senate voted to override Lynch's veto on SB 3, a public pension reform bill that is already in law as an add-on to the state budget. It also rejected his veto of SB 57, allowing car title lenders to return to the states. Opponents said the lenders charge exorbitant interest rates and target low-income families who put their cars at risk.

The Senate also voted to override SB 91, barring cities and towns from requiring fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family residential buildings.

Republicans all voted to override, saying the cost of housing is already too high without requiring the additional expense of sprinklers. Democrats sided with fire safety officials in opposing the bill.

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