Report recommends best practices for pollution-cutting investments

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Ben Hellerstein

Former State Director, Environment Massachusetts

Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center

Boston – Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center released a report today identifying the best ways to invest revenue from a regional climate program to reduce pollution and expand clean energy.

“Thanks to investments in energy efficiency and clean energy, our air is cleaner, our communities are healthier, and we’re cutting down on global warming pollution.” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “These programs have a proven track record of success.”

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is an agreement between Massachusetts and other Northeastern states to limit carbon pollution from power plants. These states auction off allowances to emit carbon pollution, and invest the revenue from the auctions to improve energy efficiency, install more renewable energy capacity, and prepare for an energy system that uses less fossil fuels.

The report, From Pollution to Solutions: Maximizing Clean Energy Progress from State Carbon-Pricing Investments, profiles some of the most successful ways that states have invested the revenue from RGGI. Two Massachusetts programs — Mass Save and Green Communities — are featured in the report.

The report criticizes states that have chosen to spend RGGI funds on purposes unrelated to reducing pollution.

Instead, the report recommends focusing RGGI investments on:

  • Expanding energy efficiency;
  • Unlocking private investment in clean energy;
  • Extending the benefits of clean energy to low- and middle-income households;
  • Incentivizing local governments to adopt clean energy;
  • Cutting carbon pollution beyond the electricity sector; and
  • Advancing the next generation of clean energy technologies. 

“After nearly a decade of experience, we now know what works when it comes to spending carbon revenue wisely,” said Elizabeth Ridlington, senior policy analyst with Frontier Group and report co-author. “States that have invested in energy efficiency and renewable energy are delivering lasting benefits to their residents and to the environment.” 

“We can have cleaner air and healthier communities today, and a safer climate for our children, by repowering Massachusetts with 100 percent renewable energy,” said Hellerstein. “This future is within reach, but to get there, we need to increase our investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.”