ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Nine Mid-Atlantic and New England states have agreed to cut power plant greenhouse gas emissions across the region by 65 percent by 2030 through the nation's first cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon contributing to global climate change.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have agreed to reduce the cap on power plant carbon emissions an additional 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030. The Democrat said the new cap will be 65 percent below the program's 2009 starting level.
The initiative caps carbon dioxide emissions and trades the excess in auctions, which have generated $2.7 billion in proceeds used by the states for clean energy programs.
"The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has been an incredible success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change in New York and the Northeast, while supporting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investments in sustainable development projects," said Basil Seggos, New York's environmental commissioner.
"When people talk about the need for states to rise and lead on climate action, given all the rollbacks and hurdles coming out of D.C., this is what they're talking about," said Conor Bambrick of Environmental Advocates of New York.
Besides New York, the pact includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pulled his state out of the pact in 2011, saying it amounted to a tax on utility customers.
The bipartisan agreement to strengthen the environmental pact came after more than 18 months of stakeholder meetings. Besides the reduced cap on emissions, it includes additional measures that could further cut carbon pollution.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, said the initiative has directly created more than 600 jobs in her state.
Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists and former Massachusetts environmental commissioner, said the initiative is a good start but doesn't address the largest source of emissions in the region: transportation. He said the states should set their sights on a regional solution to transportation sector emissions.