The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a consortium of nine states in New England and along the eastern seaboard that have collectively applied state and regional authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by power plants. After a rigorous review every few years (the last review was conducted in 2012), the consortium places a cap on CO2 emissions produced by the power sector in participating states.
After the most recent review, a new cap of 91 million short tons was implemented in 2014, and this cap will decline 2.5 percent each year from 2015 to 2020. States within the consortium can sell their emissions allowances at auction and then reinvest the proceeds in clean and alternative energy development projects, which ideally spur energy innovation and create clean jobs in participating states and regions.
Does the RGGI Program Work?
Yes. Since its official launch in 2009, the program has resulted in substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the estimates supporting its original design. And even though nobody could predict the rise of the current administration at that time, the RGGI program does appear to be functioning as a strong counter measure to the prevailing republican indifference to CO2 emissions and the threat of climate change. Where federal measures fail, this state-sponsored program appears to be succeeding.
In a recent small ray of positive climate change news, the current governor of New Jersey—Democrat Phil Murphy—has added his state to the list of RGGI participants. This is actually a rejoining rather than a joining, since New Jersey stood among the original members of the consortium before being removed by previous Governor Chris Christie.
Even though the program only limits emissions from power plants, which represent just a fraction of greenhouse gases produced in the nine-state region, those power plant emissions have declined 40 percent since 2009—No small accomplishment. And the future of the program looks bright; this past summer, the member states agreed to an additional 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2030.
While a national version does not appear to be on the horizon, we fully support the effort and innovative thinking behind the RGGI program, and we have high hopes regarding the renewable energy initiatives that are likely to take place as power plants seek new solutions. Stay with us as we follow developments that affect this program and its growth!