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.
The Boston-based Acadia Center said the bipartisan governors are “filling the void of irresponsible federal policy” and at “the vanguard of climate action following the Trump administration’s misguided decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord.”
Read the full article from Mass Live here, also published in The Springfield Republican.
President Trump’s “Energy Week” address today is expected to express strong support for U.S. exports of natural gas, currently on the rise. For the Northeast, these exports exacerbate the risks of the region’s already-dangerous overreliance on a fossil fuel that has a history of volatile prices and will not allow the region to reach its commitments to reduce greenhouse gases.
With the arrival two weeks ago in Taiwan of a liquified natural gas (LNG) tanker ship loaded with American natural gas, June has been a month marked with milestones for the nascent export industry in the United States. Preceding this delivery by a few days were the first ever U.S. LNG shipments to Poland and the Netherlands. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry deemed those events significant enough to warrant a statement from his office. These deliveries from a new LNG export facility in Louisiana signify a new era for the natural gas industry in this country, and residents of Northeastern states should be paying attention to these events.
This export plant, the Sabine Pass LNG Terminal, is the first of several such facilities planned to be constructed or converted from import use. When it is fully online, it will be able to liquify nearly 1,300 billion cubic feet (bcf) per year of natural gas. Five other facilities under construction in Hackberry, Louisiana, Freeport, Texas, Corpus Christie, Texas, Elba Island, Georgia, and Lusby, Maryland, will be able to liquify twice that volume. In total, these facilities will be able to liquify and export the equivalent of 15% of current U.S. natural gas consumption. Several additional projects have been approved but are not yet under construction.
Having this large a portion of U.S. natural gas consumption subject to world market prices will likely have an impact on markets at home. Such a rapid surge in demand will likely increase domestic natural gas prices. What does this mean for Northeastern states? They need to carefully scrutinize analyses of any projected benefits from natural gas conversions or new natural gas infrastructure projects in the region. The levels of promised savings may never materialize if rapidly increasing LNG exports drive up natural gas prices. The risk of these projects as proposed is almost always borne by ratepayers—the utilities or other project developers will earn their guaranteed return on investment, paid for eventually by electric or gas ratepayers, but the savings are not guaranteed.
Natural gas already stands as one of the main obstacles to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region, and concerns have been raised that subsidized pipelines could facilitate exports from facilities in Eastern Canada that—like Sabine Pass—were first built for imports. Tying domestic prices to volatile international markets layers on more risk.
The region’s policymakers should continue to proceed cautiously before committing their ratepayers to years of payments for large fossil fuel infrastructure projects whose tenuous savings can easily be wiped out by changing market conditions. All proposed projects should be evaluated against the possibility that other available resources can meet the Northeast’s energy needs without growing the region’s overreliance on natural gas. Northeast states need to consider energy efficiency, solar and wind generation, and conversion of fossil fuel heating and transportation systems to electric-powered alternatives. Acadia Center’s EnergyVision 2030 project shows the benefits of embracing energy sources that are indigenous to the Northeast region. With the expansion of U.S. natural gas in world markets, the economic benefits of local clean energy will likely only grow.
Peter Shattuck, director of clean energy initiatives for the regional environmental advocacy group Acadia Center, noted that it was a Republican governor, George Pataki of New York, who proposed RGGI in the face of environmental inaction from President George W. Bush. Four of the region’s original seven RGGI signatories were Republicans.
“In a strange way – this may be one of the silver linings of the Trump administration,” he said. “As he guts every major climate policy that was put in place over the last eight years, there’s a need for governors in the region to step forward and show some leadership.”
Read the full article from Yale Climate Connections here.
BOSTON — Today, as President Donald Trump announces he will pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, Acadia Center is calling for redoubled action at the state and local level to counter the damaging effects of this move by the administration. Studies, including a recent report by Acadia Center, show that the states have the capacity to build a low-carbon energy system that empowers consumers and advances economic growth. As the federal government increasingly turns against consumer-friendly climate policies, the states must act to advance this clean energy future.
“The economic and environmental future of the United States depends upon growing a clean energy economy,” stated Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center. “Advancing clean energy technologies improves public health, lowers energy costs, makes the U.S. more energy independent, keeps energy dollars here at home, builds jobs in this booming industry and reduces climate pollution. While the Trump Administration’s decision to leave this historic multi-national agreement will disadvantage the U.S. economically and cede leadership of the clean energy economic powerhouse to China, India and other nations—state, regional and community leadership can and must fill the gap left by this ill-informed decision,” Sosland said.
“The Northeast region has successfully proven the benefits of pursuing a clean energy, low polluting economy: states have reduced climate pollution while enjoying greater economic growth, job creation and public health benefits. This significant progress on clean energy under both Republican and Democratic leadership at the state and federal level serves as a prime example of what is possible across the nation.”
From increasing investments in energy efficiency that reduced energy bills to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s cap-and-invest program to reduce climate pollution, states have acted to embrace the clean energy future through regional cooperation. Since 2008, RGGI has helped the region reduce emissions nearly 40% and supported over $2 billion in clean energy programs that have allowed consumers to save billions in energy costs as well as from avoided health costs associated with emissions.
Acadia Center’s recent analysis of the Northeast’s energy system, EnergyVision 2030, shows that the states can achieve a clean energy future for all of their residents and dramatically reduce emissions by embracing available technologies. If states follow the recommendations in EnergyVision 2030, they will reduce emissions 45% by 2030 and be on track to cut emissions 80% by 2050—roughly the same target with which the U.S. was set to comply under the Paris accord.
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:
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap and trade program, which has helped to reduce emissions from regional power plants 40% over 8 years of operation while raising $2.6 billion for states to reinvest in energy efficiency and consumer programs. Actual data shows that economic growth in the RGGI states exceeded other states. RGGI was implemented in response to federal inaction on climate change and provided a model for state-based policies at the heart of the Clean Power Plan pollution standards now being rejected by the Trump Administration.
The Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) agreement among Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, Maryland, Oregon and California to put 3.3 million electric vehicles on the road by 2025. The ZEV program and decades of established leadership by California under the Clean Air Act may be the next target for federal rollbacks if EPA revokes the authority for California and thereby other states to adopt emissions standards more stringent than federal minimums.
Cost-effective Energy Efficiency investment programs are leading the nation and delivering billions of dollars in energy cost savings, avoiding air pollution, and reducing strain on the grid. In the 6-state New England power grid alone, energy efficiency investments have improved the reliability of the grid and avoided nearly $500 million in consumer payments for unnecessary transmission infrastructure. ENERGY STAR, one of the core federal efficiency programs is targeted for elimination under the Trump Administration’s proposed federal budget.
Renewable Energy development driven by state Renewable Portfolio Standards, solar policies, and coordinated procurement of several power plants worth of on- and offshore wind, solar and hydroelectricity is unlocking clean energy potential and helping to phase out dated fossil fuel options. Federal tax credits for renewable energy and continuing offshore wind leasing are critical to enabling clean energy deployment.
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.”
Peter Shattuck, Director, Clean Energy Initiative
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What got Blumenthal’s eyes to widen and had him energetically taking notes that afternoon in a spare New Haven City Hall conference room, was something said by Bill Dornbos, who runs the Connecticut office of the regional group Acadia Center. Dornbos – who is a lawyer – told Blumenthal that it would be pretty easy for Trump to get rid of the “California waiver.”
That bit of environmental wonk jargon, part of major revisions to the Clean Air Act in 1970, allows California to set its own stricter-than-federal standards for motor vehicle emissions. It also allows other states to use California’s standards instead of the federal ones.
Neither is improving. Greenhouse gas emissions went up 7.5 percent from 2012 to 2015, and probably even more in 2016, according to calculations from publicly available data done by Acadia Center, which attributes the rise primarily to the transportation sector. With gas prices low, driving is up dramatically in Connecticut along with sales of larger, less efficient vehicles.
And Acadia’s Dornbos said all options are on the table for them, including litigation. “We will not leave the future health and prosperity of Connecticut and the Northeast to arbitrary federal decisions that ignore basic science and the law,” he said.
William Dornbos, Connecticut director for the Acadia Center, said Pruitt as EPA head would “have a real impact on Connecticut” by restricting access to key air and water pollution records. “Connecticut could lose fundamental resources even without a law being passed,” Dornbos said.
Read the full article from the Hartford Courant here.
Bill Dornbos, director of the Connecticut office of Acadia Center, a clean energy advocacy group, said changing the regulations could be difficult because the rule-writing process is drawn out and complicated. For example, minimum energy conservation standards apply to more than 60 categories of appliances and equipment, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
In addition, cutting energy efficiency standards for air conditioning equipment would not likely help Carrier and other U.S. manufacturers because of investments in meeting higher standards, he said.
“Any rollback would more likely end up benefiting foreign manufacturers who could flood the market with lower-quality, less-efficient products,” he said.
Read the full article from the Hartford Courant here.
Emissions in the nine RGGI states have fallen by 37 percent since 2008, according to a report from the Acadia Center, an environmental group. At the same time, electricity prices have dropped by 3.4 percent across the region, the report says.
“Leadership now is vital on the state level,” said Peter Shattuck, executive director of the Acadia Center. “If we’re not going to see as much as folks would like at the federal level, there is a renewed rationale for the states being the laboratory of innovation.”
Read the full article from Energy & Environment News here. This article may require a subscription for access.