Delaware Urged to Strengthen Cap on Climate-Altering Carbon Pollution

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Environment America

DOVER—Today, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will hold a hearing on proposed improvements to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional program designed to limit power plant emissions of carbon pollution into the air – and thereby cut the pollution that drives global warming. Environment America submitted comments, accompanied by a white paper, in support of strengthening the program.

“We have an obligation to protect our children and future generations from the impacts of global warming,” said Travis Madsen, Senior Program Manager at Environment America. “We commend Delaware for moving forward with these improvements to RGGI as expeditiously as possible. The leadership of Governor Jack Markell and his energy and environment team, led by Secretary Collin O’Mara, will help to move the region, the nation and the world toward a better, safer future.”

Delaware 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, Delaware 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.

In calling for a strengthened limit on carbon emissions, Environment America highlighted RGGI’s success to date. Clean energy investments driven by RGGI through 2011 are expected to reduce global warming pollution by 12 million tons over their lifetimes, the equivalent of taking 2 million cars off the road for a year. At the same time, 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, including $63 million in economic benefits and 530 jobs in Delaware.

“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).

Strengthening RGGI would deliver further benefits, including preventing as much pollution as would be emitted by 16 million cars through 2020, combined with more than $8 billion in economic benefits, including energy bill savings, and more than 120,000 job-years of employment across the region.

There has been consistent and long-term support from a broad range of stakeholders for strengthening the program. For example, last year, a coalition of more than 300 environmental and public health organizations, consumer advocates and clean energy businesses sent a letter to the states’ governors, calling for reduced pollution and increasing investment in clean energy and energy efficiency measures that benefit the climate, public health, energy consumers and the economy.

Additionally, last Friday, the federal Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first national standards limiting carbon pollution from new power plants, with rules for existing power plants expected by next June. Delaware’s RGGI program provides a strong example for how states can successfully control carbon pollution – just as they have successfully reduced emissions of arsenic, lead, soot and other types of power plant pollution.

“Even before Superstorm Sandy hit last October, public concern about extreme weather fueled by global warming was on the rise,” said Madsen. “We look forward to working with Delaware officials and others in the region to ensure that we do what it takes to reduce the impact of global warming.”