Sensible Pollution Limits for Power Plants Move Closer to Final Implementation

NEW YORK (August 16, 2006) -- The pioneering bipartisan agreement by seven Northeast state governors to limit heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the region took an important step toward final implementation this week with the release of detailed rules that are to be adopted in each state. The accord creates a concrete emissions cap, combined with a market-based trading system that rewards innovative companies for quick action and lowers overall costs for everyone.

"Elected officials all across the country should be watching what these governors have accomplished by setting aside political rhetoric and getting down to the business of real global warming solutions," said Dale Bryk, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) who has been closely involved in the process. "What they are doing here is going to set a sensible, achievable pace for the rest of the country, and create a new wave of investment in cleaner, more efficient energy technologies."

Known officially as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the pact includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. Lawmakers in Maryland passed a bill that will bring their state in by the middle of next year.

The agreement caps power plant emissions at current levels beginning in 2009 and starts ramping down the limit in 2015, giving companies ample time to prepare for the new targets. By 2019, targets will be set 10 percent below current emissions. It also includes innovative measures to protect consumers, who can expect to see less pollution as well as lower energy bills thanks to new investment in energy efficiency.

The seven original states signed a memorandum of understanding in December 2005, and released a draft of this week's final rules in late March. In the next step, states will integrate the new standards into their respective state regulatory frameworks. Details remain to be worked out in a few important areas, but the overall package is a solid starting point according to Bryk.

"It is going to give participating states a competitive head start in the race for the next generation of energy technology," she said. "Moving new solutions into the marketplace is going to create new opportunities, new jobs, and lower electric bills across the region."