From Pollution to Solutions

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New report touts best practices for bipartisan Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Environment Rhode Island Research & Policy Center

While the United States is reeling from worsening wildfires and extreme weather, the success of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is helping counter the climate change-denying policies emanating from inside the Beltway. Today, RGGI, Inc. Chairman Ben Grumbles, Maryland’s Secretary of the Environment, headlined a webinar promoting the release of a new report, From Pollution to Solutions: Maximizing Clean Energy Progress from State Carbon-Pricing Investments, from Environment Rhode Island Policy and Research Center. The webinar panelists discussed case studies of how to successfully invest RGGI revenues.

“The latest National Climate Assessment makes it clear: We urgently need to ratchet down carbon pollution to avert the worst impacts of global warming,” said Andrea McGimsey, senior director of Environment America’s global warming solutions program. “The stories of how Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states have capped pollution while investing in energy efficiency and clean energy provide great examples for other states, especially New Jersey and Virginia, which are in the process of joining this bipartisan program.”

RGGI states auction off the rights (known as allowances) to emit certain thresholds of carbon pollution to large power plants. States have been using auction revenues to improve energy efficiency, install more renewable energy capacity, and prepare for an energy system that uses less fossil fuels. 

During a webinar today to release the new report, RGGI, Inc. chair and Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles said, “The RGGI states are united in growing the economy while helping the environment by making smart investments that benefit consumers and advance clean energy.”

The smart investment choices that states have made include:

  • Focusing on energy efficiency.

  • Unlocking private investment in clean energy.

  • Extending the benefits of clean energy to low- and middle-income households.

  • Incentivizing local governments to adopt clean energy.

  • Cutting carbon pollution beyond the electricity sector.

  • Advancing the next generation of clean energy technologies. 

“After nearly a decade of experience, we now know what works when it comes to spending carbon revenue wisely,” said Elizabeth Ridlington, senior policy analyst with Frontier Group and report co-author. “States that have invested in energy efficiency and renewable energy are delivering lasting benefits to their residents and to the environment.” 

“RGGI is a climate program that works and provides tangible clean energy benefits to its member states. New Jersey has missed out on RGGI clean energy investments for the majority of this decade, and it’s critical New Jersey rejoins the RGGI program with a strong carbon emissions cap that will maximize clean energy investments,” said Doug O’Malley, Environment New Jersey state director.