The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-invest program among Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states to reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector, is currently undergoing its third program review. This means the participating states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts, are collectively examining the successes, impacts, and design of their CO2 budget trading programs, and considering updates to the program design. We see this third program review as a real opportunity to strengthen RGGI in a way that would significantly and equitably drive down power sector emissions and have been following the process closely. We have been told that the process will conclude by the end of the year.
Speaking of Environmental Justice, in this third program review, RGGI has the opportunity to ensure equity is built into the model rule. Although they have not yet outlined their strategy for including equity, we, along with fellow advocates, have been advocating for RGGI states to incorporate air quality monitoring in their program review. We urge them to prioritize accelerating emission reductions at power plants that pose the most significant respiratory health risks to vulnerable communities. Specifically, we propose a reduction in the MW threshold capacity for power plants covered under RGGI, from 25MW to 15MW. According to the RGGI Report by Acadia Center, 91% of these smaller generating units are situated within a 3-mile radius of an EPA Environmental Justice Socioeconomic Indicators (EJSI) community or a community with a high asthma prevalence. Therefore, their inclusion in the program can contribute to addressing the health disparities caused by these power plants’ proximity to EJSI communities.
To read the full blog from Green Energy Consumers Alliance, click here.