New York’s nickname is the Empire State. But with the release last week of great regulations for the state’s involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), perhaps we should start calling New York the Pioneer State, too.
In fact, as the federal Environmental Protection Agency, under President Obama’s ambitious climate plan, considers how best to regulate carbon from the nation’s existing power plants, RGGI, and New York’s participation in it, can serve as a national model. A model of fresh and bold thinking. A model of the way states can significantly cut the power plant pollution that causes 40 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions, while creating jobs, saving consumers of all kinds money on energy, and building state and regional economies. As Governor Cuomo said in his State of the State speech this January, “Through its participation in RGGI, New York has demonstrated that environmental progress can also bring economic prosperity.”
The program was initiated in 2003 by New York’s Republican Governor George Pataki, and as part of this year’s scheduled review, has been strengthened by Governor Cuomo and his leadership. The new rules will lower the carbon pollution limits allowed for all states under RGGI to levels commensurate with current output—91 million tons. Then, beginning in 2015, it will ratchet them down by 2.5 percent annually, through 2020. The cumulative total will be the equivalent of removing 16 million cars off the road for one year.
Already, between 2005 and 2011, RGGI helped cut carbon pollution in the region by close to 40 percent. At the same time, it saved New Yorkers $200 million on energy and added $326 million to the state economy. Under the new pollution limits, the benefits will be even more substantial: nearly 3,000 new jobs and an additional $5.8 billion in Gross State Product.
These new New York State RGGI regulations provide a win-win-win solution to global warming—pollution reductions, job creation and money savings on energy. (For a summary of the rules changes, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/92131.html. Or, find them on page 19 of this document: http://docs.dos.ny.gov/info/register/2013/july10/pdf/rulemaking.pdf.)
New York needs to hear from concerned citizens about how cutting global warming pollution is important. To add your voice to this important conversation, email your comments, by September 9th, to Michael P. Sheehan at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Air Resources at [email protected]. (You can also send them via mail to 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-3251, or call at 518-402-8396.)
Act now. You’ll help the ever-pioneering Empire State show the nation how cutting carbon pollution should be done.