February 8, 2013

New England Senators Applaud Regional Effort to Reduce Carbon Pollution

Washington, DC – Today, Senators from New England states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are applauding their states’ recently announced commitments to prevent carbon emissions from exceeding the 2012 emissions levels of 91 million tons and to further reduce emissions in the years ahead.  This commitment will boost local economies by sparking further investment in energy efficiency programs and renewable energy development.
RGGI is a market-based effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Member states include Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. These states set a cap on emission allowances and sell emissions permits to power plants, incentivizing plants to improve efficiency. As a result, customers save money and the states receive much-needed revenue to invest in efficiency and renewable energy plans.
“Preserving our environment for future generations must continue to be a top priority,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). “I’m proud of Rhode Island for participating in this important program, which puts money back into our struggling economy and helps create much-needed clean energy jobs in the state.”
“Vermont has shown great initiative by engaging in RGGI even though our state is not a major generator of greenhouse gases through electrical power generation.  And I applaud Vermont’s creativity in applying these funds to reduce fossil fuel consumption, where the most work needs to be done to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
“This is a positive step toward addressing climate change.  Banding together through this initiative is an effective way to reduce pollution, save money, and reinvest those funds in energy efficiency programs, saving Rhode Island families and businesses money in the long run,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).
“The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is an innovative program that could very well serve as a model for the rest of the nation.  Not only will these efforts protect our environment and the public health of future generations but they will also boost our economy by encouraging investments in clean, alternative energy,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).  “RGGI’s announcement is welcome news and an important step forward towards ensuring a cleaner and more efficient energy supply for our region.”
“This innovative initiative is an economic and environmental win-win for Connecticut and other New England states because it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and creates green jobs,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). “I hope other regions in the nation follow the New England region’s lead by creating similar environmentally-conscious cooperatives.”
“I think it’s great that Massachusetts has renewed its commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions under this program, which will help protect our environment and provide critical funding for investments in clean energy,” said U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).  “This agreement will help create jobs right here in the Commonwealth and strengthen our economy.”
“Following two years of dedicated consideration, I was pleased to learn that the nine Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states composing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, including Maine, have adopted model rule changes that will result in greater reductions of greenhouse gases,” said Senator Angus King (I-ME).  “As Governor of Maine, I pledged to address climate change and followed through on that commitment by signing the 1991 Governors’ Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, Maine helped lead the way in creating the Northeastern Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and today, Maine continues to lead by maximizing the economic benefits of the program.  In fact, by dedicating all RGGI allocated funds to improving energy efficiency, it is estimated that Maine has tripled the output per dollar invested – nearly double the regional average – and generated twice as much employment as compared to the rest of New England. These statistics speak not only the environmental benefits of the program, but to the economic ones as well – and with these changes, I look forward to RGGI’s continued success in effectively reducing emissions while providing benefits to consumers and the region.”
“Not only is this decision good for our environment, but it will drive job creation, strengthen our state economies, and continue to establish New England as an innovation leader for the nation,” said Senator William “Mo” Cowan (D-MA).  “Massachusetts is proof positive that transforming our energy systems and economic growth go hand-in-hand.  While some states struggle with high unemployment rates and low job creation, Massachusetts now has over 72,000 clean energy workers, and we’ve created hundreds of new clean energy companies and technologies. This decision will continue to drive our leadership in creating a clean energy economic boom.”
Since Rhode Island began participating in the RGGI three years ago, electricity costs in the state have dropped by almost 20 percent.  It is estimated that Rhode Island’s participation in RGGI has added $69 million to the value of the state’s economy, produced $14 million in revenue, and created 567 jobs statewide.  Connecticut’s participation has added $189 million to the state’s economy, produced $52 million in revenue, and created 1,309 jobs.  In Massachusetts, they have seen $498 million added to the economy, $143 million in revenue, and 3,791 jobs.  Maine’s participation has added $92 million to the economy, $27 million in revenue, and 918 jobs.  New Hampshire’s participation has added $17 million to their economy, $33 million in new revenue, and 458 jobs.  Vermont’s participation has added $22 million to the economy, $7 million in new revenue, and 195 jobs.  (Note: all estimates are based on this report from the Analysis Group.  Employment projections are “job years” as noted in the report.)

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