BOSTON—New research from Acadia Center shows that a strengthened RGGI program would drive $2.1 billion in avoided health impacts. A stronger cap on carbon pollution would drive reductions in regional emissions of harmful pollutants like SO2, NOX, and particulate matter, which would lead to fewer emergency room visits, missed work and school days and premature deaths. The burdens of these co-pollutants fall disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color, meaning that a stronger RGGI program will provide the greatest benefit to underserved populations.
“RGGI has created jobs, economic growth and climate benefits while improving the region’s air quality,” said Daniel Sosland, President of Acadia Center. “The RGGI states should build on that success by establishing ambitious cap levels through 2030 which would deliver substantial health benefits for the participating states.”
The new analysis shows that a 5 percent annual decline in the RGGI cap from 2020 to 2030—the most ambitious cap the RGGI states have modeled—would result in over $2 billion in avoided health savings, more than double the benefit of a continued annual cap decline of 2.5 percent.
“A stronger emissions cap over the next decade can help keep Springfield’s kids out of emergency rooms and in their classrooms,” said Sarita Hudson, Manager at Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition. “Reducing pollution would make a huge difference in the everyday wellbeing and lives of this community.”
Environmental groups, health professionals and low-income advocates have called on the RGGI states to seize the opportunity provided by the program to look out for the communities burdened by pollution in a way that dramatically improves local air quality and generates revenue for the entire state. “The RGGI states can help low-income communities breathe easy, and strengthen them by re-investing RGGI proceeds into projects that spur local economic activity and create jobs,” said Jesse Lederman, Director of Public Health and Environmental Initiatives at Arise for Social Justice.
“Good state and regional policy needs to use this kind of smart thinking, to avoid inadvertent cost shifting from energy to health care. We support this forward-thinking effort” said Paul Lipke, Senior Advisor for Energy and Buildings, Health Care Without Harm.
Information on the 2016 RGGI Program Review, including meeting materials and stakeholder comments, can be found at: http://www.rggi.org/design/2016-program-review
Additional information on RGGI’s performance to date and needed reforms through the 2016 Program Review are described in Acadia Center’s 2016 RGGI Status Report:
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory, market-based effort in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nine northeastern and mid-Atlantic states reduce CO2 emissions by setting an overall limit on emissions “allowances,” which permit power plants to dispose of CO2 in the atmosphere. States sell allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in consumer benefit programs: energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other programs.
The official RGGI web site is: www.rggi.org
Jordan Stutt, Policy Analyst, Clean Energy Initiative
617-742-0054 x105, firstname.lastname@example.org