On August 23, nine eastern states announced a landmark bipartisan agreement to slash greenhouse gas emissions across the region by 65 percent by 2030 and promote growth of the green economy. The proposed changes would extend and expand the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first market-based cap-and-trade program to reduce emissions from the power sector. RGGI participating states include Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.
The move comes a month after California voted to renew its own statewide cap-and-trade market.
Under the proposed pact, the RGGI program would be extended through 2030 and the emissions cap reduced by 30 percent from 2020 levels. Established in 2009, RGGI sets a regional limit on CO2emissions from power plants and requires plants to possess a tradable CO2 allowance for each ton they emit. These allowances are distributed to states via auctions which have generated more than $2.7 billion in proceeds to promote a cleaner energy system in the region.
In an August 23 video statement, Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo endorsed the agreement. “These proposed changes will substantially strengthen the RGGI program and mark an important milestone in our work to act on climate change,” added Janet Coit, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, a member of the RGGI Board of Directors. “Reducing the emissions cap by 30 percent from 2020 to 2030, in particular, will ensure this successful program continues to drive down harmful emissions and to promote a cleaner energy system well into the future.”
The RGGI states will seek stakeholder comment on the draft program elements in a public meeting planned for September 25. The RGGI announcement and more information about the program are available here.