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East Coast States Strengthen Power Plant Pollution-Cutting Program, Set Model for Nation

Dale Bryk

Posted February 7, 2013 in Curbing Pollution, Solving Global Warming, U.S. Law and Policy

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Several East Coast states set a bold model for the nation to follow today by strengthening a program that is already successfully reducing the number one contribution to climate change in the U.S.—pollution from our fossil fuel power plants—while also creating jobs, boosting local economies and lowering energy bills.

As part of a scheduled review process, the nine states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)—a four-year-old program in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic—today announced changes to further reduce pollution from power plants, building on the success it has had to-date. Specifically, the new revisions to the program limit the amount of pollution plants in the region can emit to no more than 91 million tons—cutting the previous limit set by RGGI nearly in half.

Already, region-wide RGGI has helped to do the following since its creation:

  • Reduce climate change pollution 30 percent
  • Create 16,000 jobs
  • Spur more than $1.6 billion in economic growth
  • Lower energy bills by 10 percent

In short: it has shown the nation unequivocally that environmental and economic progress can indeed go hand in hand.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, RGGI is combating extreme weather at its source: climate change. At the same time, it has proved to be an economic engine for participating states: creating thousands of local jobs, generating millions for clean energy development, and lowering energy bills.

Now that it will be nearly twice as strong, just imagine what it can do.

The success of RGGI—and the steps to take it one big step further today—are particularly significant given anticipating federal action to address this pollution on a larger scale: The EPA is preparing to issue carbon pollution standards for existing power plants nationwide, and other states would be wise to look to RGGI as a model. By following this lead, they too can reap similar economic benefits while helping to reduce the turbocharged weather that has been sweeping across the entire country.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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