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Upping the Ante for Reducing Greenhouse Gases

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The new cap on power-plant emissions will be 65 percent below 2009 levels by 2030. (MonikaP/Pixabay)
The new cap on power-plant emissions will be 65 percent below 2009 levels by 2030. (MonikaP/Pixabay)
 By Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY - Producer, Contact
August 24, 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. – The nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is proposing lowering the cap on power plant emissions even further.

Since it was created in 2005, the multi-state carbon cap-and-trade agreement, known as RGGI, has helped cut emissions from affected power plants in New York in half, and reduced coal-fired power generation statewide by 90-percent. Now RGGI wants to lower the cap an additional 30-percent by 2030.

Zack Dufresne, director of communications and membership at the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, calls that great news.

"We're really excited that New York remains so committed to dealing with climate change," he says. "This 30 percent is a massive victory for anyone concerned with climate change."

Over the next 13 years, the new cap reduction should bring total carbon emissions in the region down to 65 percent of 2009 levels.

Besides reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, Dufresne says RGGI has provided more than $2 billion in regional economic benefits.

"The program has delivered ratepayer savings, driven economic development in the power sector and provided technologies and services such as energy efficiency, demand response, wind and solar power, energy storage and hydro power," he explains.

Carbon reductions also have produced health benefits exceeding $1.7 billion in avoided costs and other economic benefits in New York alone.

The reduced cap is in line with New York's Clean Energy Standard calling for 50 percent renewable energy in the state by 2030.

And Dufresne points out that it fulfills a commitment Gov. Andrew Cuomo made in this year's State of the State Address.

"That Gov. Cuomo is willing to step up and work across party lines, at a time when the policy landscape at the federal level is so uncertain, makes this announcement all the more significant," he adds.

In June, Cuomo founded the U.S. Climate Alliance to ensure that states will meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. That alliance now includes 14 states.

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