Environment New York joined other environmental, public health and business organizations in submitting comments on proposed improvements to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap on climate-altering carbon emissions from power plants. Environment New York and environmental and public health organizations highlighted RGGI’s success to date and called for strengthening the cap to ensure that the program leads to emission reductions from power plants of 2.5 percent per year.
“More than any time in recent history, the public is focused on the climate impacts from a warming planet,” said Heather Leibowitz of Environment New York. “We commend the state for moving forward with these improvements to RGGI as expeditiously as possible. Your leadership will help move the region, the nation and the world forward to reduce pollution and economy’s dependence on fossil fuels.”
New York is one of 10 states that were part of the original Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a pioneering agreement to cap carbon pollution from power plants. In February, New York and 8 other states announced a new agreement to make deeper cuts in power plant carbon emissions that would lead to a 20 percent reduction over the next decade. States are now revising their rules in order to carry out the agreement.
“Even before Superstorm Sandy, public concern about extreme weather fueled by global warming was on the rise,” said Heather Leibowitz. “We look forward to working with New York officials and others in the region to ensure that RGGI substantially reduces carbon pollution and to do what it takes to reduce the impact of global warming.”
“RGGI is helping states from Maine to Maryland reduce carbon pollution and make investments in clean energy,” said Peter Shattuck, Director of Market Initiatives for ENE (Environment Northeast).
Initial projections have shown that updating the program’s targets to deliver a 15 percent reduction in carbon dioxide pollution by 2020 would help address the impacts of climate change, and would avoid thousands of tons of emissions linked to smog, ground-level ozone, and related health impacts.
Independent analysis has shown that RGGI’s impact on the economies of participating states has been positive, boosting net economic output by $1.6 billion and creating 16,000 jobs in its first two and a half years of operation.
There has been consistent and long-term support from a broad range of stakeholders for strengthening the program. Last year, a coalition of more than 300 environmental and public health organizations, consumer advocates, clean energy businesses, and businesses sent a letter to the states’ governors. The letter highlighted RGGI’s success to date and called for strengthening the program’s pollution reduction targets, and increasing investment in clean energy and energy efficiency measures that benefit the climate, the economy, public health and energy consumers.
"Governor Andrew Cuomo committed to strengthening the RGGI cap to continue reducing the greenhouse gas pollution that is contributing to devastating weather events," said Joe Martens, New York State Commissioner of Environmental Conservation. "New York is compounding the return on emission reductions by investing our auction proceeds in clean and efficient energy, innovative carbon reduction technologies, and community climate protection, while creating jobs for New Yorkers in the process."