Rhode Island Joins Northeast States’ Plan for Deeper Cuts in Power Plant Pollution

Media Contacts

Stronger Regional Program Will Reduce Global Warming Emissions

Environment Rhode Island

Power plant pollution in the Northeast would decline by more than 20 percent in the next decade under a plan announced today by Northeast and Mid-Atlantic state environmental and energy officials.

Rhode Island officials joined the announcement of improvements to a regional cap on carbon emissions, following a year-long review of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first cap on carbon from power plants, which took effect in 2009.

“We applaud these officials for leading the way in tackling the pollution that contributes to global warming,” said Channing Jones, Program Associate with Environment Rhode Island. “Strengthening RGGI is one of the best ways we can lower the emissions that cause global warming. We look forward to working with Rhode Island officials to ensure these improvements are adopted.”  

The proposal announced today would cap emissions from power plants in the region at current annual emission levels (91 million tons).  The cap would take effect in 2014 and tighten over time, requiring emission reductions of 2.5 percent per year.

“These proposed changes to RGGI lock in the CO2 pollution reductions achieved to date from power plants across the region, while also providing a path forward for additional emissions reductions,” said Janet Coit, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. “The program will also continue to encourage job creation by local businesses focusing on energy efficiency, and will continue to help prevent many millions of dollars from being sent out of the region in the form of fuel payments. Both these measures support continued regional economic growth and deliver a triple-play of environmental, consumer, and economic benefits to families and businesses in Rhode Island and throughout the region.”

There was broad support from a broad range of stakeholders for strengthening the program.  Last year, a coalition of more than 300 environmental and public health organizations, consumer advocates, and clean energy and mainstream businesses sent a letter to the states’ governors urging critical reforms. The letter highlighted RGGI’s success to date and called for strengthening the program’s pollution reduction targets, and increasing investment in clean energy and energy efficiency measures that benefit the climate, the economy, public health and energy consumers.

“Even before Superstorm Sandy, public concern about extreme weather fueled by global warming was on the rise,” said Jones. “Now, it is even more urgent that the Northeast states do all they can to tackle global warming and ensure that RGGI substantially reduces carbon pollution.”