Several states have recently announced plans to withdraw from regional greenhouse gas cap and trade programs, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from utility sources in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. These 10 northeastern states originally agreed to cap and reduce energy sector carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent by 2018. Although still in its early years, RGGI has come under attack for both the effectiveness of the program and its adverse impact on electrical ratepayers.

As a result, lawmakers in at least three participant states have signaled a desire to withdraw from the RGGI. In May of this year, Governor Christie of New Jersey announced that state's intention to unilaterally withdraw from the initiative. This announcement prompted a contingent of the New Jersey legislature to challenge the withdrawal legislatively, and the issue is not yet resolved.

Similar moves to withdraw have been made by legislatures in New Hampshire and Maine. House lawmakers in New Hampshire have passed two bills since March of this year in an attempt to withdraw the state from RGGI. The first bill failed to secure Senate support. While the second secured support in both houses of the legislature, Governor John Lynch vetoed the legislation on July 6, 2011. A similar effort in Maine ultimately resulted in a narrower change, clarifying that Maine's continued participation in RGGI is contingent on a minimum threshold of participation by other states in the region.

RGGI is not the only regional greenhouse gas program facing state defections. The Western Climate Initiative is designed to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 among Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and several Canadian provinces. At least two of these states may soon end their involvement. In 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed an executive order withdrawing the state from the program. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has also expressed dislike of the program, which New Mexico joined under her predecessor's administration, but has not yet withdrawn her state. It remains to be seen what, if any, impact will result from the loss of participant states from these greenhouse gas programs.