Power plant pollution in the Northeast would decline by more than 20 percent in the next decade under a plan announced today by New York and other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.
Joe Martens, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, announced 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 the Cuomo Administration for leading the way in tackling the pollution that contributes to global warming,” said Eric Whalen, field organizer with Environment New York. “Strengthening RGGI is one of the best ways we can lower the emissions that cause global warming. We look forward to working with Cuomo Administration 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, requiring emission reductions of 2.5 percent per year.
There was broad support from a broad range of stakeholder 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 RGGI state Governors. 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 Whalen. “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.”