As Massachusetts pushes faster carbon cuts, some RGGI members resist
- There is a growing movement to extend and expand the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative's goals beyond 2020, but the Boston Globe reports some states with dirtier generation mixes could be hit hard by that decision, with Maryland indicating it could consider pulling out of the voluntary compact.
- RGGI launched in August 2006 and has shown strong results, cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by more than a third, while saving consumers almost $400 million.
- But the group's emissions targets expire in 2020, and the state of Massachusetts along with a strong corporate contingent want to see the annual emissions goal raised from 2.5% to 5%.
Ahead of the expiration of RGGI's carbon targets in 2020, states are considering how best to extend the compact. But ultimately, some states are concerned that if the group gets too aggressive, it will wind up raising consumer power bills. And that, in turn, could pull RGGI apart and undo some of the progress in setting up a carbon market supporters say has contributed to lower emissions.
The Boston Globe reports the state of Massachusetts favors doubling emissions cuts to 5% per year, a move also supported by almost 100 companies in the region. But some states, like Maryland and Delaware, buy more coal power and the caps could wind up causing consumer bills to spike.
Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles told the Globe, “If the caps are unacceptable, we’ll have to talk about the next step. It could drive us out. ... Pulling out is an option, but it’s not the preferred option. We’re not issuing an ultimatum, but this matters a lot to us.”
Earlier this month, however, 70 companies and 20 investors sent letters to the governors of RGGI states pressing them to expand and extend the compact's goals. The companies include Smuttynose Brewing Co., Gap, Ikea, Staples, North Face, and dozens of smaller organizations.
"We urge you to build on RGGI's success by continuing to lower the emissions cap on the electricity sector, by 5 percent per year post-2020, because it is good for our economy," they wrote in the Aug. 2 letter. "To date, RGGI has cut electricity-sector GHG emissions by 49% blow 2005 levels and raised $2.5 billion in revenue for use in a wide range of energy efficiency, clean energy, and GHG abatement programs, all while reducing electricity rates for customers by an average of 2%."
According to RGGI's 2014 Annual Electricity Monitoring Report, released this month. the annual average CO2 emissions from RGGI electric generation sources from 2012 to 2014 decreased by 49.3 million short tons of CO2, or 35.7%, compared to the base period of 2006 to 2008.
The annual average CO2 emissions rate declined across the same period as well, by 305 lb CO2/MWh, or 19.5%, the group said.
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