Strengthening Regional Emissions System Would Build on Clean Energy Progress to Date
More than 300 organizations, businesses, and officials called on Northeast and Mid-Atlantic governors to build on progress reducing pollution and promoting clean energy by improving the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The coalition – which includes environmental and public health organizations, consumer advocates, and clean energy and mainstream businesses – highlighted RGGI’s success to date and called for strengthening of 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.
“More than any time in recent history, the public is focused on the climate impacts from a warming planet,” said Rob Sargent, Energy Program Director for Environment America, a federation of state environmental groups. “The Northeast states have been leaders in tackling carbon pollution and RGGI has been a key element of the region’s strategy to reduce pollution from fossil fuels. Strengthening RGGI is one of the best ways we can maintain progress on clean energy while decreasing the emissions that cause global warming.”
State officials are currently evaluating options for improving the program as part of a review process established when the program was launched.
“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. “Governors need to strengthen this proven, effective system to continue reducing pollution and driving the transition to a clean, modern energy system.”
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.
“Thanks to sound public policy such as RGGI, CSG has implemented aggressive, whole house efficiency retrofit programs throughout the RGGI states in which we operate,” said Steve Cowell, Chairman and CEO of Conservations Services Group. “In the last several years, we have added over 450 new employees and overseen upgrades to thousands of homes, making them significantly more energy efficient, safer, more comfortable and affordable. By adopting the reform principles, RGGI states will increase support to the clean energy industry and foster greater economic growth.”
Initial projections have shown that updating the program’s targets to deliver a 15% reduction in carbon dioxide pollution by 2020 would help address the health impacts of climate change, and would avoid thousands of tons of toxic emissions linked to smog, ground-level ozone, and related health impacts.
“Burning fossil fuels is bad for our health, said Catherine Thomasson, MD, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Policies like RGGI that reduce air pollution from burning coal and oil are a prescription for a healthy future for our kids.”
Charging power companies for their emissions raises revenue to reinvest in energy efficiency and other public benefit programs; replacing fossil fuels imports with local spending that benefits consumers and the economy.
Shannon Baker-Branstetter of Consumers Union stated: “In the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, RGGI provides essential support for programs that save consumers money, reduce energy consumption, and weatherize homes to be more efficient and comfortable.”
Patricia Stanton, Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy Conservation Services Group, (508) 740-2836
Catherine Thomasson, MD, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, (410) 493-4571
Shannon Baker-Branstetter, Policy Counsel, Energy and Environment, Consumers Union, Policy and Action from Consumer Reports, (202) 238-9253