Massachusetts Urged to Strengthen Cap on Climate Altering Carbon Emissions

Media Contacts

Proposed Improvements to Program Will Further Progress on Clean Energy

Environment Massachusetts


For more information contact:

Steve Dzubak: 717-676-5120
Rob Sargent: 617-747-4317

Environment Massachusetts joined other environmental, public health and business organizations today at a public hearing on proposed improvements to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap on climate-altering carbon emissions from power plants. Environment Massachusetts and environmental and public health organizations; including the American Lung Association, the Conservation Law Foundation, ENE – Environment Northeast; 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 Environment Massachusetts’ Steve Dzubak, at today’s public hearing at the Boston offices of the Department of Environmental Protection. “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 our economy’s dependence on fossil fuels.”

Massachusetts 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, Massachusetts 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.

“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). “We commend Massachusetts officials for moving forward, and urge them to ensure that the final rule ensures a reduction of 2.5 percent per year from current levels.”

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.

“Burning fossil fuels is bad for our health,” said Casey Harvell, Massachusetts Director of Public Policy for the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Policies like RGGI that reduce air pollution from power plants are a prescription for a healthy future for our kids.”

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.

“For the past four years, RGGI has provided cost effective reductions in climate pollution, in a manner that enhances the region’s energy markets and economy,” said Sue Reid, director of Conservation Law Foundation in Massachusetts. “Leadership by Massachusetts is critical to meeting the goals of the RGGI program as well as the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act targets.”

Ryan Black, the chapter director from the Sierra Club stated, “A bolstered RGGI Policy helps Massachusetts accelerate its transition to a low-carbon economy while addressing the urgency and severity of climate change.”

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.

“Even before Superstorm Sandy, public concern about extreme weather fueled by global warming was on the rise,” said Dzubak. “We look forward to working with Massachusetts 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.”