Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced that New York has joined neighboring states in agreeing to lower the emissions cap established under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. With this announcement, nine Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states have agreed to set a 91 million-ton emissions cap in 2014, declining 2.5 percent a year through 2020. The announcement comes just weeks after Cuomo called for a lowering of the cap in his 2013 State of the State Address.
In 2008, New York joined nine other northeastern and mid-Atlantic states in establishing the RGGI, the nation's first program to use an innovative market-based mechanism to cap and cost-effectively reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause the climate to change. RGGI was the world's first program to auction the emission credits (rather than give them away for free) and invest the auction proceeds in projects that conserve energy, save consumers money and support the transition to cleaner and more efficient production of electricity. Emissions from power plants in New York State are down approximately 45 percent since 2005 and auction proceeds from sale of the RGGI allowances has reduced electricity expenditures and created thousands of green energy sector jobs.
"In the past two years alone, New York and our neighboring states have experienced some of the worst storms in our states' history, and we can no longer choose not to act on the reality that our climate is changing," Cuomo said. "The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has been a tremendous success, reducing emissions here in New York and generating billions of dollars in green investment and economic development. With today's action to lower the emissions cap under the RGGI program, New York State is once again joining our neighboring states to lead the way in responding to the reality of climate change and working toward a more sustainable future."
"Gov. Cuomo's commitment in his State of the State address to lowering the RGGI cap to a level that ensures the continued reduction in emissions helped pave the way for a regional consensus on a new cap," said Joe Martens, DEC commissioner. "We have accomplished significant benefits for New York State through the RGGI program. The devastating impacts of storms Sandy, Irene and Lee illustrate that we must limit greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid contributing to the most serious impacts of a warming climate. The current cap no longer limits emissions."
"RGGI offers compounded levels of clean energy and environmental benefits, as the State's auction proceeds are reinvested to support energy efficiency, renewable energy and advanced technologies, further reducing emissions while creating jobs and stimulating our economy," said Frances Murray, NYSERDA president.
"RGGI shows clearly how a market-based approach to limiting greenhouse gases can bring cleaner air, savings on electricity bills, new jobs and economic benefits to our communities while supporting energy independence and encouraging power plants to transition to cleaner and more efficient production of electricity," said Garry Brown, Chairman of the NYS Public Service Commission.
The nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states currently participating in RGGI have completed a comprehensive two-year program review and released a Model Rule that will guide the RGGI states as they follow state-specific statutory and regulatory processes to update their CO2 Budget Trading Program regulations.