By MARK WOODSON
As nine states, including New York, evaluate major changes to strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program – the nation’s first cap on carbon pollution from power plants – 58 environmental, public health and clean energy organizations and businesses are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to push for RGGI reforms that will put Northeastern states on a trajectory to cut power plant pollution by more than half through 2030. The organizations delivered a letter to the Governor this week, praising his clean energy and climate leadership and urging him to take the next step forward by advocating for an extension of RGGI cap reductions through 2030 that will require an annual five percent reduction in carbon pollution from power plants.
“Over the last year, Governor Cuomo set admirable goals to shift New York toward clean energy and help prevent the worst impacts of global warming,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director for Environment New York. “Now our governor has the opportunity to put a strong plan into action to actually achieve those goals by strengthening RGGI.”
The letter highlights support for more ambitious climate action from 58 organizations and businesses, including environmental organizations like NRDC, public health organizations like American Lung Association of the Northeast, faith groups like the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association of Metro NY, and clean energy businesses like Taitem Engineering and Empower Solar. These organizations recognize that RGGI is a critically important program.
Thanks in part to RGGI, New York has dramatically cut power plant pollution from dirty fuels like coal and oil. The program has also helped residents, businesses, community organizations and local governments to take advantage of energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities – saving money and creating jobs. By strengthening RGGI, New York can accomplish even more. The letter highlights a recent analysis by Synapse Energy Economics, The RGGI Opportunity, which concludes that achieving Governor Cuomo’s goal (reducing overall emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030) would create more than 30,000 jobs in New York and save consumers more than $3 billion on energy.
Moreover, action can help prevent climate impacts that many New Yorkers are deeply concerned about, especially in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. With 2015 standing as the hottest year on record, and 2016 likely to be hotter still, the need to act is clear and urgent.
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