Northeast states propose 30 percent greenhouse gas cut

Northeast states propose 30 percent greenhouse gas cut

A coalition of nine northeastern states are proposing to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent under an existing interstate cap-and-trade program.

The proposal came Wednesday as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative agreement among the nine states that launched in 2009.

The 30 percent cut to the cap would start from a 2020 baseline and would therefore be in addition to any greenhouse gas reductions before then.

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It came amid growing calls among states and localities to cut their greenhouse gas emissions just as President Trump works to undo major Obama administration policies that aimed to reduce emissions on a national level.

Just last month, California voted to extend its cap-and-trade program.

“With today’s announcement, the RGGI states are demonstrating our commitment to a strengthened RGGI program that will utilize innovative new mechanisms to secure significant carbon reductions at a reasonable price on into the next decade, working in concert with our competitive energy markets and reliability goals,” said Katie Dykes, chairwoman of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and current chairwoman of RGGI.

The group is also proposing a number of other changes to the program’s rules, such as adjusting the cap to remove some excess allowances, letting states hold off on selling some emissions allowances if they are too cheap and measures meant to mitigate excess allowances.

The 2030 cap would be 65 percent below the 2009 cap that the program started with. The agreement has already cut power sector emissions in its states by nearly half.

The coalition is taking public comment on the proposals through next month, and it might revise them after that. Individual states would then implement the rules internally.

RGGI includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Five of the states have Republican governors: Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The pact included New Jersey as well, up until 2012, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) pulled out of it. But both the Democratic and Republican candidates in this year’s gubernatorial election want to put the state back into the RGGI.