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Trump’s plan to rescind climate policies would take years to affect New England

In a report last year, the Acadia Center found RGGI states reduced emissions by 16 percent more than other states, while the region’s economy had grown 3.6 percent more than the rest of the country. At the same time, energy prices had fallen by an average of 3.4 percent, while electricity rates in other states rose by 7.2 percent.

“While the federal government falters, the RGGI governors are doubling down on the climate program that has slashed harmful pollution while driving economic growth,” said Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst at the Acadia Center, an environmental advocacy group in Boston. “The Trump administration’s decision to shirk its responsibility to address climate change is unjustifiable, but it will not slow down the progress being made in New England.”

Stutt and others said that the Trump administration’s efforts might slow the transition to clean energy from fossil fuels, but they are unlikely to stop it.

Read the full article from the Boston Globe here.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan Might Be Dead In D.C., But States Are Rebuilding It Themselves

But as Fast Company has written before, the emissions reductions laid out under the Clean Power Plan are already underway, and the directive from Virginia, says Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst at the clean-energy research nonprofit Acadia Center, “is the first domino in what will be a series of states moving to adopt clean energy policies.”

In issuing the directive to Virginia’s DEQ, McAuliffe instructed that his state’s proposal to limit energy-sector emissions should fall in line with those already in place across the country, and is looking specifically to California and a coalition of nine East Coast states united under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), both of which have successfully implemented cap-and-trade policies to curb carbon dioxide emissions. Stutt says that while cap-and-trade policy implementation has been slow to spread beyond California and the RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”) states, and now Virginia, “the conversation is getting louder.” Following Obama’s introduction of the Clean Power Plan two years ago, “the whole country began preparing to comply with the standards, and most states were looking at how a RGGI model–a cap-and-trade model–might work in their state,” Stutt says.

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“States are looking to these programs; they don’t want to be missing out on all the benefits the RGGI states and California have been seeing for revenue to be reinvested in clean energy initiatives and infrastructure needs,” Stutt says.

While cap-and-trade has proven effective in the RGGI states and California, and it’s likely to be the model that Virginia pursues (Stutt met with legislators in the state as far back as two years ago, as they were gauging the possibility of Virginia becoming part of RGGI), NextGen Climate founder and philanthropist Tom Steyer–who has considered running for governor of California–tells Fast Company that “there is no one magic bullet” that will dictate how states drive clean energy policies going forward. “The unending increase in the efficiency and effectiveness of technology is driving down the cost of renewable energy sources like wind and solar dramatically,” Steyer says. Unlike coal, whose price continues to rise as its supply constricts, renewable generation can proliferate with no harm to society, and states on both sides of the political divide are responding to the favorable market conditions.

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While currently, those states most aggressively pursuing cap-and-trade and other carbon-reduction policies are blue states, both Kiely and Stutt emphasize that support for clean energy policies extends across political divides. RGGI was proposed by a Republican, former New York governor George E. Pataki, and John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, vetoed an attempt by the state legislature in December to make the state’s renewable energy standards voluntary, saying to roll back the renewable energy policy would hurt Ohio’s economy (the legislature is continuing to fight the veto). And some of the strongest supporters of wind energy come from states like Iowa and Texas, where the availability of natural resources has driven the cost of renewables down. In Iowa, the cost is so dramatically lower that to do anything other than integrate wind into the energy landscape would put the state at an economic disadvantage–and powerful Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is strongly in support of increasing the amount of wind power the state produces.

Read the full article from Fast Company here.

Federal rollbacks require states to lead the transition to a clean energy economy

BOSTON — Today’s announcement from the Trump Administration rolling back carbon pollution standards for power plants and weakening consideration of the societal costs of carbon pollution from the regulatory review process is the latest in a series of ill-informed actions that will damage the nation’s need to build a modern, less polluting and more consumer-friendly economic future. These actions by the Trump Administration underscore that Northeast states must act to protect existing climate policies and step up their commitments to address the threat of climate change.

“The Trump Administration is turning the nation’s back on the historic opportunity to build a clean energy future—a future that will modernize our energy system, offer consumers better value for their energy dollars and invest in state and local economies while taking the right steps to reduce climate pollution,” said Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center. “The Administration’s actions will increase pollution, damage public health and cost consumers more. Removing from federal decision making the impact carbon pollution has on society is a thinly-veiled attempt to make these backward decisions seem more economic. Leadership to safeguard consumers and the climate has now shifted to the states and cities, and Acadia Center is calling on states to respond by redoubling their commitments to a clean energy future and spurring market growth for clean power, energy efficiency and low polluting technologies.”

Northeast states have proven their leadership by implementing bipartisan climate and energy policies that enhance economic growth while cutting pollution. These state actions are now dramatically more important as the Trump Administration seeks to undermine environmental and climate protections. Key policies that states have put into place and must protect include:

Additionally, Northeast states have made explicit commitments to address the threat of climate change. New England states have agreed to a 35%-45% reduction in carbon pollution by 2030, and cities and states in the region are signatories to a multi-national agreement to reduce climate pollution sufficiently by 2050 to limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.

“There is broad public support for common-sense steps to rein in climate pollution,” said Peter Shattuck, Director of Acadia Center’s Clean Energy Initiative. “The elections didn’t halt climate change, but they created a void that must be filled by city, state and regional leadership on one of the greatest threats of our time.”

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Peter Shattuck, Director, Clean Energy Initiative
617-742-0054 x103, pshattuck@acadiacenter.org

Krysia Wazny, Communications Director
617-742-0054 x107, kwazny@acadiacenter.org

In a rapidly changing world, what do we mean by RGGI leadership?

Never before has the urgency of climate action been so apparent, demonstrated by record high temperatures and unprecedented drought. Yet, as the impacts of climate change become more painfully obvious, jurisdictions from small towns to the world’s largest countries are working towards solutions. Since the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) began in the Northeast, the Governors of the participating states have led by embracing, implementing, and improving a first-in-the-nation carbon reduction program. It is now up to a new group of Governors to determine whether RGGI remains a model for ambitious action on climate.

What does RGGI leadership mean?

Looking out for our climate, our health, our economy
Thanks to RGGI’s track record, the participating states can lead on climate without setting back their economies. As detailed in our recent report, since RGGI began CO2 emissions have fallen sharply (faster than the rest of the country), electricity prices have decreased (while the rest of the country has seen an increase), and the economy has grown (outpacing the rest of the country).

Change in Economic Growth, Emissions and Electricity Prices, 2008 to 2015pages-from-rggi-blog-10_6_final

By setting ambitious cap levels for the future, the RGGI states can continue to achieve the best outcomes for our climate, our health, and our economy. Specifically, the RGGI states should establish post-2020 cap levels designed to meet existing climate targets, which cluster around 40% reductions by 2030. Analysis from Synapse Energy Economics has shown that implementing a RGGI cap with a 5% annual decline from 2020 through 2030 would be the lowest-cost pathway to achieving climate requirements. According to that study, such a cap would also yield over $25 billion in total savings for the region while creating 58,000 new jobs each year in the participating states.

A forward-going 5% annual reduction would be more gradual than what the RGGI states have achieved to date, but it would still put us on a path to achieving our science-based goals. And as we cope with the fact that global CO2 concentrations have now eclipsed 400 parts per million, it’s become more important than ever that our leaders address scientific imperatives on climate change with comparably ambitious policy.

The forefront of climate policy
When a bi-partisan group of Governors of the RGGI states first came together to place a limit on CO2 emissions, they staked their claim as national leaders on climate. In the absence of federal climate policy, they were the first states to act on reducing CO2 emissions from the power sector. When they decided to auction allowances rather than give them away for free—as was common practice under previous emissions trading programs—they directed billions of dollars to consumers instead of polluters. This decision is largely responsible for RGGI’s success as a program that reduces harmful emissions and serves as an engine of local and regional economic growth.

While the leadership role of the RGGI states to-date is indisputable, the bar for climate leadership has been raised. Since the RGGI program began, the region, the country, and the world have taken great strides to address carbon emissions. In recent months the U.S. and China, the planet’s largest emitters of CO2, have ratified the Paris Climate Agreement. In the last week, India and the European Union have followed suit, bringing the tally of signatories beyond the threshold of 55 countries and 55% of global GHG emissions necessary to make the agreement binding. Also this week, Canada—America’s largest trading partner—announced nationwide carbon pricing. Provinces can implement their own cap-and-trade programs (as Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba have done), their own carbon tax (like British Columbia), or they can accept the federal carbon tax, beginning at $10/ton in 2018 and rising to $50/ton by 2022.

The RGGI states are no longer going it alone on climate, but they can still be leaders. Committing to a strong future for the program will provide a valuable guidepost as the rest of the country prepares to comply with the Clean Power Plan, and as the rest of the world considers how to reduce emissions without sacrificing growth. Momentum is building, support is growing, and the market is transforming – will the RGGI states continue to lead the way?

Northeast Carbon Trading Program Raises $152 Million on the Way to Clean Power Plan Compliance

Member states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) today announced the results of the 29th quarterly auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances. 25,374,294 CO2 allowances were sold at a clearing price of $6.02, which includes all 10,000,000 available allowances from the Cost Containment Reserve. This clearing price is 9% higher than the previous auction, and 23% higher than the clearing price from one year ago. The RGGI states have now raised $2.26 billion for reinvestment, the majority of which is used to fund energy efficiency and other consumer benefit programs. RGGI has been a successful model for reducing power sector emissions, and with reforms to ensure future environmental performance, it will be an effective means of complying with EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

The results of this latest auction show that the RGGI market continues to thrive, with clearing prices increasing in seven of the last eight quarterly auctions. These rising prices are indicative of confidence in the program’s future. RGGI’s first-in-nation model for reducing CO2 from the power sector has outperformed expectations, both in terms of environmental and economic results. As states explore their options for compliance with EPA’s Clean Power Plan, RGGI’s flexible, market-based approach to regulating power plants has gained increasing attention.

“The RGGI states’ success in reducing climate pollution from the power sector has paved the way for other states to adopt effective market-based climate programs,” said Acadia Center President, Daniel Sosland. “RGGI states have created the blueprint for an effective and economically beneficial pathway to a clean energy future.”

In crafting the final version of the Clean Power Plan, EPA took measures to support the use of programs like RGGI. EPA provided final targets in mass-based terms, facilitated the use of multi-state trading programs, and allowed states to treat emissions from new and existing units equally. In sum, these steps from EPA will let the RGGI states comply by using their existing model, with a few minor changes.

One of these changes will be a revision to the Cost Containment Reserve.

“The purchase of ten million Cost Containment Reserve allowances in Auction 29 demonstrates the need for reform of this price control mechanism” said Jordan Stutt, Policy Analyst with Acadia Center. As currently structured, additional allowances from the Cost Containment Reserve become available for purchase when price thresholds are met. “These additional allowances have now been made available in both years of the Cost Containment Reserve’s existence. Allowances purchased from the Cost Containment Reserve inflate the RGGI cap, undermining the program’s environmental performance and complicating the process of demonstrating compliance with the Clean Power Plan and state GHG reduction requirements.”

Since RGGI’s launch, emissions have declined significantly as electric generation from natural gas and renewables has displaced carbon-intensive generation from coal and oil, and as investments in energy efficiency have reduced demand for power. Declining emissions have been accompanied by a drop in electricity prices, which are down 2% on average across the region since RGGI took effect in 2009.

“RGGI has demonstrated that smart policy can drive emissions reductions in the power sector while generating consumer benefits,” said Peter Shattuck, Director of Acadia Center’s Clean Energy Initiative. “The continued increase in RGGI allowance prices will help to accelerate the transition to a cleaner power sector.”

Additional information on RGGI’s performance to date, and role in EPA’s regulatory process are described in Acadia Center’s July, 2015 report: RGGI: A Model Program for the Power Sector

RGGI Overview:

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

 

Contact:

Jordan Stutt, Policy Analyst                                                      jstutt@acadiacenter.org, (617) 742-0054 x105

Kiernan Dunlop, Communications Associate                 kdunlop@acadiacenter.org, (617) 742- 0054 x107

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Acadia Center is a non-profit, research and advocacy organization committed to advancing the clean energy future. Acadia Center is at the forefront of efforts to build clean, low-carbon and consumer-friendly economies. Acadia Center provides accurate and reliable information, and offers a real-world and comprehensive approach to problem solving through innovation and collaboration.

 

Most RGGI States on Track to Meet Power Plan Targets

…Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst for the New England-based Acadia Center, agreed. “The RGGI states are well-positioned to comply with the Clean Power Plan, as EPA has designed the final rule in such a way that encourages the use of RGGI’s multi-state, mass-based trading model,” he told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail…

RGGI Would Boost VA Economy and Meet Future Climate Goals

Participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) would bring significant benefits to Virginia, according to analysis released today by Acadia Center. Acadia Center has been tracking RGGI since the program’s launch in 2009, and drew on this expertise to arrive at the following key findings:

“RGGI has been successful in the states that currently participate.  It is helping to reduce carbon emissions, while offering a demonstrated record of advancing economic development, and saving consumers money on energy,” said Daniel L. Sosland, Acadia Center President.

“RGGI has received significant attention and growing support as a means of reducing climate pollution and helping to protect the state from sea level rise and other damaging effects of climate change,” said Dawone Robinson of Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “This analysis helps show why RGGI is the right solution for Virginia.”

Virginia needs a plan for cutting greenhouse gas pollution from major generators to meet the federal requirements of EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  A recent study by the regional grid operator PJM showed that a multi-state program—like RGGI—was the most cost-effective way for Virginia and other PJM states to meet the regulations.

“The RGGI program is well-established and has a track record of results: driving down emissions and bringing in revenue and other economic benefits. The numbers clearly show how much Virginia and other states could gain by joining,” said Stutt.

The current RGGI states have used the majority of revenue raised through the program to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy programs, which have generated $3.40-$3.70 in economic growth for every $1 invested. Revenue can also be used to meet local needs such as adaptation planning or investment in diversifying Southwest Virginia’s economy and retraining its workforce.

For more information see: https://acadiacenter.org/document/va-and-rggi-compliance-with-clean-power-plan/

Contact:

Emily Avery-Miller, Director External Relations, Acadia Center, 617-742-0054 x100, eavery-miller@acadiacenter.org
Jordan Stutt, Policy Analyst, Acadia Center, 617-742-0054 x105, jstutt@acadiacenter.org
Dawone Robinson, Virginia Policy Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 804-767-0372, dawone@chesapeakeclimate.org

 

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Acadia Center is a non-profit, research and advocacy organization committed to advancing the clean energy future. Acadia Center is at the forefront of efforts to build clean, low-carbon and consumer-friendly economies. Acadia Center provides accurate and reliable information, and offers a real-world and comprehensive approach to problem solving through innovation and collaboration.