Regional cap and trade program tightens limits

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Cap and trade advocates got some good news this morning: the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has announced plans to permit fewer carbon emissions from power plants in 2014.

RGGI, as the initiative is commonly known, is made of Northeastern states that banded together to impose stricter regulations on power sector greenhouse gas emissions. The coalition sets a limit on the emissions and auctions off allowances; it essentially creates a market-based approach to reducing emissions. The idea is to put a price on the emissions, which in turn serves as an incentive for power producers to use cleaner generating technology.

This morning, RGGI administrators announced that they're lowering the 2014 emissions cap from 165 million tons to 91 million tons. And the cap will shrink 2.5 percent each year after 2014 through 2020. By 2020, emissions should be 14 million tons to 20 million tons lower than they would have been under the previous cap, says an RGGI press release.

The lower cap shouldn't come as a surprise. In his State of the State address, Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed for the adjusted cap. He said power plant emissions in the RGGI states were already below the 165 million ton cap, that they were emitting only 91 million tons.

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