Albany, NY - July 11, 2013 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today proposed revised regulations to further reduce harmful power plant emissions, which are a major contributor to global climate change, fulfilling a commitment made in his State of the State address earlier this year. The proposed regulations lower the emissions cap under the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and will serve as a national model for reducing harmful emissions from power plants.
“In the last several years New Yorkers have faced more natural weather disasters than our State has faced in decades, making clear the consequences of ignoring global warming,” Governor Cuomo said. “The consequences of ignoring our changing climate are undeniable. From Hurricane Irene to Superstorm Sandy, these experiences have provided vivid reminders of the dangers of our changing climate and the need for immediate action. RGGI serves as a national model for combating climate change and proves that it is possible to significantly reduce greenhouse gas pollution while promoting job growth and a vibrant economy. With the goal of lowering the emissions cap, New York is taking a decisive step to reduce pollution and better protect the environment.”
RGGI was the nation’s first program to use an innovative market-based mechanism to cap and cost-effectively reduce the outflow of carbon dioxide that causes climate change. Under the program, emission allowances are sold at auctions and the proceeds are reinvested in projects that support clean energy technologies and greater energy efficiency, and help lower consumer energy bills while driving further reductions in greenhouse gas pollution.
From 2005 to 2012, the region saw a 40 percent decline in greenhouse gas pollution from power plants. The proposed revised regulations would lock in that reduction by lowering the regional cap from 165 million tons of CO2 to 91 million tons of CO2, which is more closely aligned with current emissions levels. To achieve further pollution reductions, the cap would decline an additional 2.5 percent annually through 2020, and additional adjustments will account for unused allowances that are still in the marketplace. The cumulative regional effect of the lower cap is an estimated reduction of 86 million tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to taking over 16 million cars off the road for one year.
RGGI is also demonstrating how an innovative cap-and-invest program can yield substantial economic and consumer benefits. An independent economic analysis has found that New York’s investment of its first three years of auction proceeds (2009-2011) is creating jobs, saving $200 million on customer energy bills and adding $326 million to the New York economy. Under the revised regulations, New York is projected to invest up to $1.5 billion in RGGI proceeds through 2020, resulting in estimated macroeconomic benefits of an additional $5.8 billion in Gross State Product and nearly 3,000 additional jobs.
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said, “RGGI clearly shows that a market-based approach to limiting greenhouse gasses will lead to cleaner air and create jobs and economic benefits for communities, while also supporting energy independence and encouraging power plants to transition to cleaner and more efficient production of electricity. The strengthened RGGI program makes our region’s power sector well-positioned for the implementation of President Obama’s climate plan.”
These rule modifications are the result of a two-year program review by the nine RGGI states, based on electricity system analyses and macroeconomic modeling, as well as extensive dialogue with stakeholders.
The proposed regulations have been submitted by the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and have been published in the State Register and Environmental Notice Bulletin on July 10. There will be a 60-day public comment period on the proposed regulations.