Op-Ed Urges Strong New RGGI Carbon Reductions

In a Maryland Reporter op-ed (2017-08-09), Standard Solar Chief Development Officer Tony Clifford advocated for Maryland’s continued participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the multi-state agreement that set caps on carbon emissions from power plants and established the first carbon trading market in the United States. In the op-ed, Clifford argued that as the RGGI agreement is being revised, Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan should support the strongest carbon percentage reduction under consideration – a 3% reduction per year including an extra boost at the start.

In support of his position, Clifford cited:  (1) the more than 40% carbon emission reductions already seen in Maryland’s power plants; (2) the additional carbon reductions and over $700 million in auction revenues the 3% proposal would generate for Maryland; (3) Marylander support for even stronger RGGI reductions than what is being considered according to a 2016 Sierra Club Poll; (4) the additional jobs, revenue, health benefits, and energy cost savings the 3% proposal would generate for Maryland based on current RGGI performance; and (5) the role RGGI plays in addressing climate change. From the op-ed:

Recent history suggests Gov. Hogan should be open to strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. In 2016, the governor signed bipartisan legislation establishing an ambitious 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for our state. This was a big win for Maryland, but to achieve that target we also need to strengthen RGGI.

By leading boldly on RGGI and pushing for the strongest possible emissions reductions, the governor can protect Maryland’s citizens, economy, and natural resources while securing major benefits for Maryland families and businesses.

Here is some basic background on RGGI from RGGI’s own website:

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.

Following a comprehensive 2012 Program Review, the RGGI states implemented a new 2014 RGGI cap of 91 million short tons. The RGGI CO2 cap then declines 2.5 percent each year from 2015 to 2020. The RGGI CO2 cap represents a regional budget for CO2 emissions from the power sector. See Program Overview for more information.

States sell nearly all emission allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs. These programs are spurring innovation in the clean energy economy and creating green jobs in the RGGI states.

Useful Links

RGGI Website

Sierra Club News Release on RGGI Poll (2016-08-11)