A new report aims to make the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative more effective. The Acadia Center’s report finds since the RGGI’s creation in 2009, states like Connecticut have seen a 50% reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants. States in the program saw a 91% decrease in coal-generated electricity, and a more than 800% increase in solar and wind energy.
Amy Boyd, vice president of Climate and Clean Energy Policy at the Acadia Center, said RGGI could do better in some areas – by investing 40% to 50% of its proceeds in environmental justice in communities burdened by the harmful effects of emissions.
“And allow ‘EJ’ community members to participate in such decisions – and as I said, transparently track and report actual data that shows whether those investments are delivering the results that they’ve intended,” Boyd said.
Other recommendations include having additional air-quality monitoring for nitrogen oxides or ‘NOx.’ Bridgeport’s Harbor Station Plant ranked low on a list of ‘NOx’-emitting plants – despite emitting 969 tons into the air yearly. The EPA’s new Good Neighbor Plan aims to cut smog-forming NOx in a handful of states, including Connecticut.
12 states along the East Coast are part of RGGI, and the program provides an important framework for a federal cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions, Boyd noted.
“I think RGGI sets a really good example for a way that it can be done,” she said. “And I think that, even if the feds were to somehow put together such a program, I think RGGI could be a way that these 12 states can sort-of get a jump on implementing it.”
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