RGGI Program Review Stakeholder Meeting

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Heather Leibowitz

“We do not have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. We can have both.” –Heather Leibowitz, Environment New York

[New York, NY]- On Tuesday, nine northeastern states held a regional meeting to gather input on possible improvements to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a program designed to reduce global warming pollution from power plants.

Heather Leibowitz, the Director of Environment New York issued the following statement:

“Global warming is a serious threat to our civilization. 2014 was the hottest year on record, globally. People across the country are feeling the effects, from droughts and wildfires, to more extreme storms, to increased flooding linked to sea level rise. Practically every citizen of a RGGI state lives in a county that was affected by a weather-related disaster in the last 5 years.

“Future impacts of global warming depend on the choices we make today. By accelerating our transition to pollution-free energy sources, we can prevent the worst impacts. We should be proud of what we’ve already achieved through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. We have cut power plant pollution by almost 50 percent in just 10 years. And we’ve invested billions in energy efficiency programs – reducing pollution while saving money and creating jobs.  

“We do not have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. We can have both. By investing RGGI funds in smart programs, our states have cut power plant pollution while reducing electricity prices, saving people and businesses more than $1.8 billion on energy bills through efficiency programs, boosting the economy by more than $2 billion, and creating more than 23,000 jobs.  Those benefits will only grow over time, providing a roughly $8 billion boost to the region from 2013-2020.

“In New York, cumulative proceeds from 2009 to 2014 equaled more than $700 million. The projected economic value added from 2013 to 2020 equals more than $2 billion for the state and would include the creation of over 18,000 jobs.

“RGGI will be a key element in meeting the ambitious climate pledges northeastern governors have been making in advance of the December climate talks in Paris, including Governor Cuomo’s pledge to aim for 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

“After the last comprehensive review of RGGI, in 2012, the northeastern states tightened the cap on pollution by 45 percent. We are hoping that the process that kicks off today could lead to a further strengthening of the cap.”