In 2019, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality released its Clean Energy Plan, which vows to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power generating plants by 70 percent from 2005 levels and to make the state carbon neutral by 2050.

And now comes a petition from two North Carolina environmental groups that asks the state to join a regional partnership to combat climate change by forcing electrical power plants to reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions by the same amount specified in the DEQ’s Clean Energy Plan.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed the petition with the N.C. Emergency Management Commission Jan. 11 on behalf of Clean Air Carolina and the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

“With climate change already harming North Carolina, and science telling us we are running out of time to reduce our heat-trapping gas emissions, now is the time to take action,” Gudrun Thompson, a senior attorney at the SELC, said in a statement announcing the petition.

“Whether we act now or delay determines our future as well as the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren,” Thompson said. “This petition outlines a cost-effective solution that is proven to work and ready to go to protect North Carolina’s economy, environment and people.”

If the Environmental Management Commission agrees, North Carolina would join at least 11 other states, from Maine to Virginia, in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, commonly known as RGGI.

What is RGGI?

The RGGI initiative was approved in 2005 and started fully operating in 2009, Thompson said. A 10-year review in 2019 by the Acadia Center, a nonprofit environmental group, found that:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions from RGGI power plants fell by 47 percent, outpacing the rest of the country by 90 percent.
  • Electricity prices in RGGI states fell by 5.7 percent, while prices increased in the rest of the country by 8.6 percent.
  • Gross domestic product of the RGGI states grew by 47 percent, outpacing growth in the rest of the country by 31 percent.

To read the full article in the North Carolina Health News, click here