RGGI states propose tighter carbon budget

Friday, September 15, 2017

The nine states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have announced consensus on proposed revisions to that program that would provide a further 30% reduction in the regional limit on emissions by 2030, relative to 2020 levels.  The proposed regional program changes are now available for stakeholder comment, after which each participating state will follow its own specific statutory and regulatory processes to propose updates to their own carbon dioxide budget trading programs.

Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states -- Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont -- currently participate in RGGI, the first mandatory market-based regulatory program in the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  RGGI is composed of individual CO2 budget trading programs in each state, based on each state’s independent legal authority.  The program imposes an annual aggregate cap on greenhouse emissions from covered sources like fossil-fueled power plants in participating states.  For 2017, the cap is 84.3 million short tons (62.5 million short tons adjusted for banked allowances); it declines 2.5 percent each year until 2020.  Since 2008, participating states have reduced power sector carbon emissions by nearly 50 percent, while generating more than $2.7 billion in allowance auction proceeds for reinvestment in programs to benefit consumers.

RGGI participating states periodically conduct a "program review".  Following their 2012 Program Review, the RGGI states implemented a new 2014 RGGI cap of 91 million short tons -- 45 % below the prior 2014 cap of 165 million short tons. At that time, the participating states decided to commence the next program review no later than 2016.

RGGI's 2016 Program Review is ongoing.  According to an August 23, 2017 announcement, the participating states have reached consensus on proposed changes to the program design.  Proposed changes include a regional cap of 75,147,784 tons in 2021, which will decline by 2.275 million tons per year thereafter, resulting in a total 30% reduction in the regional cap from 2020 to 2030.  The proposed changes also include modifications to the existing Cost Containment Reserve and implementation of a new Emissions Containment Reserve which would add some flexibility to the cap size.

On behalf of participating states, RGGI, Inc. has announced a meeting on September 25 to gather stakeholder input.  According to the announcement, after reviewing stakeholder comments, conducting additional economic analysis, and updating materials, each participating state is expected to execute its own statutory and regulatory process to update its own carbon budget trading program.

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