Chesapeake PSR

States agree to cut power plant emissions

Climate Change and EnergyTimothy WhitehouseComment

Maryland and the eight other states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) tentatively agreed on August 23 to reduce emissions from power plants by at least 30 percent between 2020 and 2030. The plan still requires a public input process and final approval. A meeting is slated for September 25 in Baltimore to take comments from representatives of power companies and other stakeholders.  

The decision by the RGGI states represents about a three percent reduction per year. Although the reductions are less than the five percent requested by Chesapeake PSR and other advocacy groups, this positive step will mean at least 132 million more short tons of carbon pollution will be avoided by 2030, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council. That is equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 25 million cars.

These reductions will also help reduce air and water pollution substantially over the next decade.

RGGI is a “cap and invest” program that has been reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants in nine northeastern states since 2009. The program requires that electrical generating plants purchase an “allowance” for each metric ton of CO2 emitted during the generation of electricity. The funds received during each quarterly auction of allowances are returned to the RGGI states to be invested in ways that benefit consumers. A major goal of these investments is to further reduce carbon emissions by improving energy efficiency, reducing demand for power, and supporting clean renewable energy. By reducing the use of dirty power, these targeted investments amplify the pollution reductions from the sale of allowances.

Chesapeake PSR explained some of the benefits of RGGI in our April 2017 publication, Health Benefits of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. We also organized health petitions in support of stronger reductions, testified at public hearings and submitted written comments throughout the RGGI review process.

The other RGGI states are Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

• • •