Gov. Peter Shumlin and other regional Governors recently
announced that Vermont and the Northeast's role in tackling climate
change is being strengthened with a new limit on carbon emissions.
The nine states that make up the Regional Greenhouse Gas
Initiative, or RGGI, announced that the annual cap on emissions
will be reduced nearly 40 percent from 165 million tons to 91
million tons in 2014, and will decline 2.5 percent per year through
"Climate change is the single greatest challenge to our future
and to the Vermont way of life," Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt., said.
"Capping emissions from fossil-fuel power plants is one important
step we can take, and I am proud that Vermont is again taking the
lead to improve a program that is just one of the many climate
success stories that we are going to need."
The Governor added, "In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene and
Hurricane Sandy it is clear we simply do not have time to argue
forever about what should be done. We know what to do and the RGGI
program is doing it - reducing emissions and helping us kick our
dependence on fossil fuels."
The RGGI states agreed to lower the cap after emissions in the
region dropped almost 40 percent below the current cap due in large
part to reductions in electricity demand from energy efficiency,
lower natural gas prices and milder weather.
"The economic slowdown in 2008-09 had an effect on reducing
emissions, but as the economy has begun to pick up in the
northeast, it is the reinvestment of the proceeds from the auction
of RGGI allowances in energy efficiency and the switch to natural
gas that have lead the decrease in carbon emissions in the region,"
Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz said. "The program is a
success, adding billions in economic value to the region and saving
more than $700 million by not buying fossil fuel from outside the
In Vermont alone, the RGGI program has generated $7 million to
date, almost all spent on energy efficiency and fuel-saving
programs that have provided benefits directly to Vermonters and
helped reduce emissions across the state.
Along with reducing the cap, the RGGI states have agreed to a
number of changes to the program, including adjusting the cap to
account for existing unsold allowances, establishing a cost
containment mechanism, and adding a forestry offset category that
would enable power generators to meet a part of their obligation by
investing in forestry.
Each of the states in RGGI will now propose the agreed-upon
changes for statutory or regulatory approval based on the state's
independent legal authority and process. The nine states that
comprise the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New
Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
RGGI is a collaborative effort to cost-effectively reduce carbon
dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power sector by requiring
generators to purchase allowances equal to their emissions of