New York Takes Action to Reduce Climate-Altering Carbon Pollution

Media Contacts
Heather Leibowitz

Environment New York

New York just announced improvements to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a pioneering effort to clean up climate-altering carbon pollution from power plants. The changes to the program will reduce power plant pollution in the region by 15 percent within the decade.

“We commend Governor Andrew Cuomo, Commissioner Martens at the Department of Environmental Conservation and Commissioner Zibelman at the New York Public Service Commission for helping to protect our children and future generations from the impacts of global warming,” said Heather Leibowitz, Campaign Director for Environment New York. “RGGI is an important piece of our regional strategy to curb carbon pollution. We look forward to working with the state to continue the success of this important program.”

New York is one of 10 states that joined together to form RGGI. The program provides a strong example for how states across the country can control carbon pollution – just as they have successfully reduced emissions of arsenic, lead, soot and other types of power plant pollution.

RGGI member states have successfully cut carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 40 percent since 2005. At the same time, the program has generated funding for clean energy programs, which are accelerating the rate at which the region is moving away from polluting fossil fuels. The program boosted regional net economic output by $1.6 billion and created 16,000 jobs in its first two and a half years of operation, including $326 million in economic benefits and more than 4,000 jobs in New York.

The Environment New York Research & Policy Center report, ‘A Double Success: Tackling Global Warming While Growing the Economy with an Improved Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’ shows that lowering global warming emissions is consistent with a growing economy. Between 2000 and 2010, the economies of the ten Northeast states grew twice as fast per capita as other states while per capita carbon dioxide emissions declined 25 percent faster.

In February, New York and eight other states announced a new agreement to make deeper cuts in power plant carbon emissions. The state’s recent action locks into place a stronger limit on climate-altering pollution. Through 2020, the new limit will prevent as much pollution as would be emitted by 16 million cars. At the same time, it will generate more than $8 billion in economic benefits, including energy bill savings, and more than 120,000 job-years of employment across the region.

This year, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. On December 2nd, 2013, RGGI states submitted comments to the EPA, offering the RGGI program as a proven, cost-effective “benchmark for national action.”

“We commend New York and the other RGGI states for working constructively with EPA in support of meaningful nationwide emissions reductions,” said Leibowitz. “We hope that all states can learn from our region’s success in cleaning up dirty power plants.”