Northeast states crack down on global warming pollution with new power plant rules

For Immediate Release

For Additional Information: Andrea McGimsey, amcgimsey@environmentamerica.org, 703-477-4722

Today, nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states finalized new rules to cut power plant pollution by at least two-thirds below 2005 levels by 2030. The action makes the best regional clean air and climate protection program in the country – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – even better. This program – which first took effect in 2009 – limits dangerous pollution from power plants across the region, helping to slow the warming of our planet and clean up our air. It also fuels investment in clean energy by making polluters pay to pollute.

Today’s decision follows a multi-year review of the program with broad stakeholder input, including more than 500 leaders calling for greater ambition. The action is particularly noteworthy in light of the ongoing efforts of the Trump administration to reverse prior administrations’ actions to fight climate change, including the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Andrea McGimsey, Global Warming Solutions Program Director for Environment America issued the following statement:

“People want less pollution and more clean energy. This new rule will give it to them.

Thank you to the 9 Governors for their leadership. Thanks also to RGGI board members and the staff of RGGI, Inc. for their hard work to bring this process to a successful conclusion.

This multi-state collaboration proves that we can work together across party lines to cut pollution, clean our air and protect our climate.  Especially in an era where politicians in Washington, D.C. seem to be unable to work together on almost anything, this decision is a triumph for bipartisanship and for common sense. Our region has a long history of working to reduce air pollution, setting a strong example for the rest of the country. This decision continues that tradition.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has been a huge success so far – proving that action to reduce pollution and grow clean energy can deliver important benefits for all people. (Our recent report, Doubling Down on Climate Progress, summarizes the benefits we’ve achieved, including cutting power plant pollution in half since 2005 and generating $2.7 billion for states to invest in
clean energy, energy efficiency and consumer benefit programs.)

Today’s decision will make this innovative and successful program work even better. It will cut pollution by at least another 30 percent across the nine-state region from 2020 to 2030. If cutting pollution turns out to be easier and cheaper than anticipated, the limit on pollution will automatically grow tighter, reinforcing progress. The new rules exceed what would have been required under the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan by about a third.

The nine currently participating states anticipate that the program will raise on the order of $7.5 billion for investment in clean energy programs from 2018 through 2030.

At the same time, we know that this decision by itself is not nearly enough to stop climate change.

With every day, it becomes even more clear that the impacts of global warming are accelerating. 2016 was hotter than any previous year in human history, breaking records last set in 2015 and 2014. The Northeast is warming faster than any other region in the United States except for Alaska. This year, most of the Northeast had the warmest October on record. We're feeling the effects – from severe drought taking its toll on the iconic dairy farms of New Hampshire, to stronger storms and hurricanes battering the Coney Island boardwalk.

Globally, we must reduce emissions from all sources to zero – ideally within the next 25 years. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states are in a position to do much more, and they should. We need to take further action to clean up power plants – and also our transportation system, our buildings and our industries.

We should also do more to encourage action in additional states. The prospect of New Jersey and Virginia joining our regional coalition to clean up carbon pollution in 2018 is a welcome one – but ultimately, we’re going to need every state and the federal government to work together to eliminate pollution.  

We look forward to working with the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States and their neighbors to implement these new rules, and to take further steps to slash dangerous global warming pollution and accelerate clean energy development. We have the tools we need to protect our health, preserve our climate and secure our future. Let’s use them.”

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Environment America Research & Policy Center is a federation of state-based advocacy organizations bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.