Conservation Law Foundation Applauds Agreement on Stronger Carbon Emissions Cap for Northeast Power Plants

Ben Carmichael Ben Carmichael

Calls RGGI’s Efforts to Further Curb Carbon Pollution from Power Plants ‘A Step in the Right Direction’ for our Climate

BOSTON, MA February 7, 2013 – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) applauded an agreement announced today by Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and other members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to strengthen the cap on carbon emissions from power plants in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states – from 165 million tons down to 91 million tons (2012 levels). CLF called the refinements to the RGGI program an important step toward meeting the climate imperative of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but cautioned that more sweeping action will be needed to get there.

“This is a very meaningful step in the evolution of RGGI and a powerful example of how markets can drive solutions to climate change,” said N. Jonathan Peress, VP and director of CLF’s Clean Energy and Climate Change program. “Over the past four years, the RGGI program has proven that putting a price on carbon emissions and using the revenues to expand energy efficiency and clean energy as part of our mix is a formula that works. The program refinements announced today will further accelerate the ongoing transition away from dirty and inefficient fossil fuel power plants to meet our energy needs. Once again, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states have demonstrated a path forward for others areas of the country.”

RGGI, the nation’s first market-based cap and trade program requires power plants to hold permits, known as “allowances,” for each ton of CO2 they release into the atmosphere. Revenue from the sale of these allowances is reinvested in energy efficiency programs that reduce costs for businesses and make the states more competitive.

Peress continued, “We applaud the New England states for supporting and strengthening RGGI as an important tool in their toolkits for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and advancing a clean energy economy. The RGGI program has proven that carbon cap-and-trade programs can reduce carbon pollution while contributing to economic growth and prosperity. However, state leaders still have much to do to meet the emissions reductions levels dictated by science and our understanding of what it will take for our region to thrive in the face of climate change. Today’s action to strengthen the regional electric power plant cap-and-trade program is a step in the right direction, but we have a long way to go.”

The new cap level locks in emission reductions achieved to date, and continues to drive additional reductions through 2020. Since it was launched in 2009, economic experts say the increased energy efficiency that RGGI is driving has been generating greater rates of economic growth in each participating state than would have occurred without a carbon price.

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. Using the law, science and the market, CLF creates solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy region-wide. Founded in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

 

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