Broad Range of Stakeholders Call on Governor Chafee to Improve Successful Clean Energy and Anti-Pollution Program

Media Contacts
Channing Jones

Strengthening Regional Emissions System Would Build on Clean Energy Progress to Date

Environment Rhode Island

Rhode Island organizations, businesses, and officials joined more than three hundred stakeholders from across the region in calling on Governor Chafee and other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic governors to build on progress reducing pollution and promoting clean energy by improving the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  The coalition – which includes environmental and public health organizations, consumer advocates, and clean energy and mainstream businesses – highlighted RGGI’s success to date and called for strengthening of 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.  

“RGGI is helping states from Maine to Maryland reduce carbon pollution and make investments in clean energy,” said Peter Shattuck, Director of Market Initiatives for ENE.  “Governor Chafee and other state leaders need to strengthen this proven, effective system to continue reducing pollution and driving the transition to a clean, modern energy system.”

Officials from the ten states are currently evaluating options for improving the program as part of a review process established when the program was launched.     

“More than any time in recent history, the public is focused on the climate impacts from a warming planet,” said Channing Jones, Program Associate from Environment Rhode Island.  “Rhode Island has a strong record tackling carbon pollution. We look forward to working with state leaders to assist them in strengthening policies like RGGI that promote clean energy and limit carbon pollution.”  

Independent analysis has shown that RGGI’s impact on the economies of participating states has been positive and significant, boosting net economic output by $69 million and creating 567 jobs in Rhode Island in the first two and a half years of operation.

Initial projections have shown that updating the program’s targets to deliver a 15% reduction in carbon dioxide pollution by 2020 would help address the health impacts of climate change, and would avoid thousands of tons of toxic emissions linked to smog, ground-level ozone, and related health impacts.  The 20% reduction called for in the letter would deliver greater benefits.

“Burning fossil fuels is bad for our health, said Catherine Thomasson, MD, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.  “Policies like RGGI that reduce air pollution from burning coal and oil are a prescription for a healthy future for our kids.”   

Charging power companies for their emissions provides resources to reinvest in energy efficiency, clean energy and other public benefit programs, replacing fossil fuels imports with local spending that benefits consumers and the economy.

Shannon Baker-Branstetter of Consumers Union stated: “In Rhode Island, RGGI provides essential support for programs that save consumers money, reduce energy consumption, and weatherize homes to be more efficient and comfortable.”