For the past year, ten northeast and midatlantic states, including Connecticut, have operated the country’s first mandatory greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. The group Environment Northeast has issued a report evaluating the initiative and gave it mostly high marks.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI requires fossil-fuel-fired power plants to buy permits, known as carbon allowances, for every ton of carbon dioxide or CO2 they release into the atmosphere. CO2 is one of the key greenhouse gasses that contributes to climate change. Most of these allowances are sold at auctions. Over time, the cap - the number of allowances that are sold - is lowered. And that reduces carbon emissions. Derek Murrow of Environment Northeast says Connecticut has earned more than $26 million from these carbon auctions and has funneled most of that into energy efficiency programs and clean energy.
“The money has been spent on good programs. And I think it’s just proof that cap and trade can function well and we sure hope that the federal government will implement a national program with similar design elements.”
Since RGGI was launched, carbon emissions have declined. The Envrionment Northeast report says part of that’s due to a bad economy and part to increased energy efficiency. The report says the RGGI program needs better ways to lower the cap as greenhouse gas emissions decline.
For WNPR, I'm Nancy Cohen.