GOVERNOR PATERSON RINGS IN NEW ERA TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE
Governor David A. Paterson today opened the nation's first-ever auction of carbon dioxide allowances when he rang the ceremonial bell at the New York Mercantile Exchange in Manhattan, and by doing so launched the nation's most serious initiative yet to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. New York and nine other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states have come together to launch the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced "Reggie"), a mandatory program that covers more than 200 fossil fuel power plants, requiring the owners of those plants pay for the carbon dioxide they emit into the air.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Governor David A. Paterson today opened the nation’s first-ever auction of carbon dioxide allowances when he rang the ceremonial bell at the New York Mercantile Exchange in Manhattan, and by doing so launched the nation’s most serious initiative yet to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. New York and nine other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states have come together to launch the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ( RGGI, pronounced “Reggie” ), a mandatory program that covers more than 200 fossil fuel power plants, requiring the owners of those plants pay for the carbon dioxide they emit into the air.
By putting a price on carbon dioxide pollution through the RGGI auction, power plants will now have a financial incentive to reduce pollution. Proceeds from the auction will go toward energy conservation and renewable energy programs in each of the ten participating states, including: New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.
“Global warming is the most pressing environmental issue of our time, and unfortunately the federal government has failed to take comprehensive action to address it. But by coming together with nine other states, New York is showing that we can take our own bold action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Governor Paterson. “With the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, we are attacking global warming in three ways: reducing emissions, fostering energy conservation and stimulating development of a clean energy economy and green jobs.”
Under RGGI, ten states have established a cap or limit on the total amount of carbon dioxide pollution that power plants can emit into the air. Power plants over 25 megawatts ( MW ) that emit carbon dioxide must obtain pollution allowances to do so. These allowances, which are available by auction, give the power plants permission to emit carbon dioxide. The cumulative emissions of all carbon allowances may not exceed the amount set by the cap. Over time, the carbon cap is lowered incrementally, thus bringing down carbon emission levels.
Right Honorable Tony Blair said: “The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is an extremely important part of the overall US effort to address climate change. It represents an acknowledgment on the part of US states that climate change is an urgent problem, and more importantly, it demonstrates the will to take action to solve it. By developing RGGI, the participating states have shown that a US cap and trade program is both possible and beneficial, and I applaud them for their leadership. Such measures are important to help move us towards consensus around a new global deal on climate change.”
New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine said: “I believe that RGGI is a perfect example of how we – as states – can leverage our ability to tackle the complex challenges of clean energy and climate change by joining in regional collaboration. These issues are among the most pressing facing governors in our region as we strive to resurrect a stable and prosperous economy, and deliver a sustainable quality of life for our citizens.”
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said: “I applaud the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for taking action to slow the dangerous impacts of climate change through innovative market solutions. These types of solutions hold polluters responsible, create a financial incentive to reduce emissions to the maximum extent and spur the development of innovative technologies. Like our partners in the Northeastern states, we’re committed to taking action locally and regionally in our fight against global warming. I am optimistic that the ground we are laying with the Western Climate Initiative, alongside RGGI, is key to the future development and success of a national climate policy.”
RGGI represents the first mandatory program to reduce power plant emissions of carbon dioxide – the principle gas that causes climate change – by instituting a six-year cap on carbon emissions in the participating states, followed by a 10 percent reduction over the next four years.
The auction process makes these carbon dioxide allowances a commodity, which market participants will use for compliance to buy, sell and trade. This market-based approach finds the cheapest place in the electrical generation sector to achieve reductions in carbon emissions. The auction will be open to all who are qualified to bid.
Power plants pump out about 25 percent of the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted annually in New York. Under RGGI, annual carbon discharges from power plants of 25 megawatts or larger would be capped. New York is distributing 64.3 million tons of carbon dioxide to be used for compliance, which is a third of the total RGGI cap. Emissions would be reduced 2.5 percent per year for the following four years, for an overall 10 percent decrease.
RGGI has spurred action elsewhere. Seven western U.S. states and several Canadian provinces have embarked on the Western Climate Initiative, a similar cap-and-trade system that will be implemented by 2012. Florida is also studying a cap-and-trade system, as our several Midwest states. The European Union has recently indicated it wants its members to shift programs to an auction-based format.
Additional quotes provided in support of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative:
Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell said: “The roots of today’s RGGI auction can be traced back almost ten years to discussions on climate change between Connecticut, other northeastern states and neighboring Canadian provinces. In the absence of federal leadership on this issue, the states have come together through RGGI to demonstrate that we can effectively address climate change in a manner that can help us build a stronger economy. Connecticut is proud to continue its leadership role on climate change as a partner in the RGGI agreement and this first in-the-nation carbon auction.”
Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner said: “We in Delaware strongly support the launch of the RGGI auction today. As states, we can turn the challenges of energy security and climate change into opportunities that will allow us to create new jobs in clean energy and lead the country to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Maine Governor John E. Baldacci said: “In the absence of any leadership on global warming from President Bush, I believe that Maine and other states must continue to be the laboratories for policy implementation. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is the first mandatory program enacted in the US to address the gravity of the threats posed by climate change. It is a program that is serving as a model for other regional efforts now and can serve as a model for a 50-state federal cap-and-trade system.”
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said: “Participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction today will lead to an unprecedented investment in energy efficiency, not only in Maryland but across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions as well. This is good for consumers, and it is also a landmark step to combat climate change.”
Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick said: “Massachusetts is proud to participate in the first auction of greenhouse gas emissions allowances in the nation. Through this auction, RGGI is creating a carbon market in the U.S., and generating funds that can be put to work increasing our energy efficiency and growing a clean energy economy in Massachusetts.”
New Hampshire Governor John Lynch said: "Cutting our greenhouse gas pollution is the right thing to do for the long-term health of our citizens, our environment and our economy. Economic studies have shown that our participation in RGGI will create jobs and grow our economy through investments made in energy efficiency. The region is taking a lead role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and setting an example for the rest of the nation to follow through RGGI. We are looking forward to offering allowances in December's auction.”
Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri said: “Rhode Island is exceptionally committed and pleased to be working with the other states to bring the final steps in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative into fruition. My administration has taken many bold actions in the development of offshore wind and distributed generation facilities, which, when coupled with this program, will put Rhode Island in the forefront of governments working on both energy independence and long-term security for our residents and businesses.”
Vermont Governor James Douglas said: “Vermont is one of six states offering allowances for sale in today’s first-ever cap-and-trade auction. Vermont’s sale of more than 1.2 million carbon credit allowances each year is an opportunity to leverage new technology and energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and grow our economy. The RGGI program will generate new capital to invest in green jobs and inspire innovation for long-term economic growth in Vermont and other RGGI states.”
Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and chair of RGGI Inc., the multi-state entity created to support the states, Pete Grannis, said: “Older, less efficient power plants with high air pollution levels will pay more to comply with RGGI than newer, more efficient power plants. Dirty power plants will be at a competitive disadvantage and there will be more incentive to reduce emissions, make upgrades and build cleaner plants.”
Garry Brown, Chairman, New York State Public Service Commission, said: “I congratulate Governor Paterson for his steadfast support of RGGI and its carbon auction. Utility power plants are significant contributors of carbon dioxide emissions. The cap-and-trade of carbon allowances will help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions that threaten our environment. This important and historic regional initiative should be seen as a model for the rest of the nation.”
Bob Callender, Vice President for Programs for New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said: “We are pleased to be a part of this historic day and look forward to a successful auction. Governor Paterson has made fighting global climate change one of the hallmarks of his administration and we look forward to working with our partners to develop and implement the programs that will reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases in New York State.”
The Honorable Timothy E. Wirth, President, United Nations Foundation and The Better World Fund, said: “I am impressed with the initiative of ten northeast and mid Atlantic states as they launch a carbon auction in the United States. They are to be commended for looking to the future, regulating greenhouse gases, and moving ahead to stem the threat of climate change.”
Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman and CEO, General Electric, said: “GE offers its congratulations to the Governors of the Northeast States for their leadership on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Country’s first carbon cap and trade program. This kind of market-based approach will encourage the development and deployment of the technologies essential to combating climate change, enhancing our energy security and promoting continued economic growth. With RGGI, the Northeast States have taken a very important first step as we work toward federal legislation to establish a national framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “RGGI sets a hugely important precedent for the nation and the world. This first-of-its-kind market-based system for power plant emissions will promote efficiency and cut pollution while reducing overall energy costs for consumers and creating hundreds of new clean energy jobs. RGGI is the kind of smart energy plan that the entire country needs. Our nation will reap enormous economic benefits if Congress follows the northeast states’ lead.”
Eileen Claussen, Executive Director, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said: “Today marks an historic milestone for U.S. climate action. The start of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ( RGGI ) auction of emission allowances demonstrates both how far we’ve come and how far we need to go to effectively address climate change. RGGI and other U.S. state and regional efforts demonstrate that effective cap-and-trade programs can be implemented. These states are paving the path to a comprehensive national program that offers the most cost-effective solution to significantly reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
“A new President will be elected in less than six weeks, and I’m optimistic that this change will deliver the political leadership required to seriously address climate change. As we await the new Administration and Congress, RGGI leads by example to show government and business leaders that cap and trade is a manageable, economically-efficient approach to reduce GHG emissions.” Jonathan Lash, President, World Resources Institute, said: “With its first-in-the-nation cap-and-trade program, RGGI points the way for other regions and the federal government to take similar steps. Today's auction is an important milestone, because it demonstrates that allowance value can be used to safeguard consumers and make our economy more efficient.”
Tom King, Executive Director, Electricity Distribution and Generation, National Grid, said: “National Grid is delighted to celebrate and endorse RGGI and its inaugural carbon dioxide allowance auction. The example set by RGGI will lead others in the nation and, indeed, around the world as we all grapple with increasing greenhouse gas emissions. At National Grid we have “carbon budgets” which incorporate the price of carbon into every investment decision we make. This will ensure that our long-term growth plans reflect the inevitability of a carbon-constrained global economy as we do our part to improve the environment for future generations. Congratulations, RGGI, for the power of action.”
Steve Owens, Director, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Co-chair of the Western Climate Initiative, said: “As co-chair of the Western Climate Initiative, I congratulate the ten northeast states in RGGI on their leadership in moving forward with the first U.S. carbon auction. This is a truly incredible feat and a giant step forward in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in this country. The seven U.S. states and four Canadian provinces that make up the WCI have been paying very close attention to RGGI's efforts in this area, and the work the RGGI states have done has been extremely helpful to the WCI as we have designed our own program.”
Doug Scott, Director, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, said: “Illinois and our neighboring states in the Midwest Governor’s Association are eagerly anticipating the results of the first carbon allowance auction on September 25 conducted by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ( RGGI ) as part of the mandatory, market-based cap and trade program for the power sector in ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States. I commend the RGGI states for moving forward on reducing carbon emissions that contribute to climate change while raising revenues for clean energy investment and the results will be extremely helpful as we address this issue in the Midwest”
Suzanne Watson, Policy Director for The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said: “The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ( ACEEE ) is pleased that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ( RGGI ) strongly endorses energy efficiency as part of its operation. ACEEE feels that energy efficiency is the most important aspect of any cap and trade initiative - either regional or national - since it is largely due to investments in efficiency that costs to consumers can better be controlled and for the fact that it supports the ultimate purpose of a cap and trade, i.e., actual reductions in greenhouse gases emissions. Thus efficiency can serve multiple purposes: saves on costs to consumers, improves the environment and the economies of the states, and serves as a testing ground to the value of greater efficiency in a future national cap and trade effort.”
Kevin Knobloch, President, Union of Concerned Scientists, said: “Governors and legislators in the RGGI states have shown tremendous leadership on climate. Auctioning the allowances and dedicating the revenues to energy efficiency and renewable energy development are critical strategies for ensuring a clean and affordable energy future for the Northeast and sets an important example for federal policymakers.”
Fred Krupp, Executive Director of Environmental Defense, said: “The launch of America’s first carbon market is proof positive that the U.S. can and will take bold steps to combat climate change.”
Joe Kruger, Policy Director Bipartisan Policy Center/National Commission on Energy Policy, said: “The RGGI states have shown great leadership as they have developed their cap and trade program. The RGGI auction will provide valuable lessons to policymakers addressing climate change in the U.S. and around the world.”
Jack Winslow, President and CIO of Winslow Management, said: “At Winslow we are extremely excited to witness RGGI’s first carbon auction. As investors in low-cost, low-carbon energy solutions of the future, we are firm believers that the market needs to be the primary driver behind the development of renewable energy. The RGGI auction is an historical event, where regional governments are coming together and signaling to the market that carbon emissions have a tangible environmental cost, measured in dollars. Renewable energy solutions are increasingly attractive for energy utilities, industrial consumers, and homeowners. We praise the RGGI states for their foresight and initiative in this endeavor.”
Rob Sargent, Environment America’s Energy Program Director, said: “Tackling global warming emissions and shifting away from fossil fuels are among society’s greatest challenges. Today’s auction represents a remarkable precedent that will begin to put this region on a path to a cleaner and more secure energy future. Northeast officials deserve tremendous credit for breaking with the status quo by recognizing that auctioning pollution allowances is the fairest and most economically efficient way to structure a cap and trade program. There is much more work to meet the environmental and energy challenges of the 21st century. But, I am confident that we will look back on today and see it as a defining moment in the struggle to address global warming.”
Stephen L. Cowell, CEO of Conservation Services Group, said: “The RGGI auction that has just been completed in the northeast and which Massachusetts was an active participant represents a landmark event in the fight against global warming. It is the first large scale auction of carbon allowances that will allow us to begin putting a real price on the cost of carbon pollution in North America.”
Ernest J. Moniz, Director, MIT Energy Initiative Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: “This first US carbon auction is a seminal event. The ten Northeastern states moving this forward are to be commended for bringing a sense of urgency to limitations on greenhouse gas emissions, hopefully leading the way to a national commitment in the upcoming Administration. RGGI will also benefit the region - one without fossil fuel resources – by accelerating deployment of new efficiency and renewable technologies. The Northeast has enormous research and investment capacity in its universities, laboratories, and entrepreneurial sector to develop and market those technologies.”
Robert Moore, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York, said: “Today marks a critical point in the nation’s response to climate change--the first-ever auction of carbon dioxide emissions under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or ‘RGGI.’ The ten states participating in this regional plan to reduce power plant pollution are stepping up to fight global warming while the federal government is stuck in neutral. The governors of the ten RGGI states deserve credit for proving to the rest of the nation that cost-effective solutions to the growing threat of climate change are at hand and the time to act is now.”
Laura Haight, Senior Environmental Associate at the New York Public Interest Research Group, said: “Today Governor Paterson and other state leaders will ring the bell for a new approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are proud of New York’s leadership in forging this multi-state regional initiative, and look forward to a successful launch. We commend all the participating states for working together in a spirit of cooperation and innovation.”
Mark Tercek, CEO and President of The Nature Conservancy of New York, said: “State leadership is continuing to step up in the absence of national progress on the issue of climate change. We applaud the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states on this historic day for taking bold steps to curb their own emissions, provide funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and support strategies to help humans and nature adapt to global warming.”
Laurence DeWitt, President of The Commons, said: “RGGI’s auction of allowances ( permits to pollute ) is a quantum design improvement for environmental cap and trade programs. Investing the auction proceeds in energy efficiency and low CO2 technologies will dramatically reduce the cost of the program to consumers, while spawning economic development and jobs in New York in these emerging ‘no-CO2, low CO2’ industries.”
Daniel L. Sosland, Executive Director of Environment Northeast, said: “In the uncharted territory of the first mandatory carbon cap and trade program in the US, the RGGI states are providing critical leadership. This auction will fund investments in essential programs like energy efficiency that will save consumers money and reduce RGGI costs for all. The leadership exhibited by the ten states sends a message that not only is it time for the nation to act on the climate crisis but that the states can and are taking strong first steps.”
Cindy Luppi, Clean Water Action, New England Program Director, said: “Today’s launch represents one more critical milestone on the road to additional pollution reductions from power plants throughout the Northeast. RGGI has sent up a flare for officials around the country at all levels of government that the time to reduce global warming pollution is here and now.”
Seth Kaplan, Vice President for Climate Advocacy, Conservation Law Foundation, said: “The RGGI program has redefined, for the better, cap-and-trade and climate protection regulation through this auction - the prospect of recycling the money it will generate to slash both customer bills and pollution by financing energy efficiency measures is incredibly exciting and provides a model for the rest of the nation.”
Rob Garrity, Executive Director, Mass Climate Action Network, said: “The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a three part success; first by capping and then reducing greenhouse gas emissions, second, through the gains in energy efficiency which will be funded through the auction of allowances, and finally by its multi-state nature, sending an important message to the rest of the country that comprehensive, across the board action is required to address greenhouse gas emissions.”
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