Auction expected to change the way the U.S. fights global warming
Today, in an historic and collaborative effort to help fight global warming, six states – Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont – will participate in the nation’s first auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) “credits” as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
It is the United States’ first auction of CO2 credits. RGGI sets a limit on the amount of CO2 that may be emitted by power plants, but allows businesses to buy and sell credits for the right to release that CO2 from their operations. The Northeast program is viewed as a potential model for a federal program to limit global warming pollution and foster clean energy investments.
In addition to providing a framework for reducing global warming pollutants, the RGGI auction will generate revenues that will support a variety of climate-related initiatives, primarily energy efficiency improvements for Maine homes and businesses. The goal is for these investments, in turn, to lead to even further emissions reductions and greater energy savings for consumers.
“Climate change is the greatest threat to our communities and natural areas over the next century, putting our health, our economy and our environment at risk,” said Michael Tetreault, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “We applaud the Northeast states for their leadership on this critical issue.”
“Maine and the northeast states are helping redefine this country’s approach to global warming, and RGGI is now the state-of-the-art globally for using ‘cap and trade’ to reduce pollution. We expect Congress to be taking notes,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
“This first auction couldn’t be more timely,” said Steve Hinchman, staff attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation’s Maine office. “As this money comes in, Maine and the other RGGI states are already preparing to turn around and reinvest it in programs to reduce energy use and cut emissions. This is a perfect example of how good climate legislation can actually help states create green jobs and lower their energy costs.”
“The auction will send a carbon price signal to power generators which will help promote energy efficiency and clean wind development in Maine, and that should be a great boost for our local economy,” said Michael Stoddard, deputy director of Environment Northeast.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is an agreement among ten Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to a cap and reduce CO2 emissions from power plants. RGGI is the first mandatory “cap-and-trade” program in the U.S. to address global warming pollutants. It is viewed as a potential model for a federal program to limit global warming pollution.
Under the Initiative, CO2 emissions from electric-generating power plants will be capped at present levels until 2015. From 2015-2018, CO2 emissions from these sources will be reduced by 2.5% per year until a 10% reduction is achieved.
For more information on RGGI, visit: www.rggi.org