Tag Archives: Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

United States Carbon: Maryland Shores Up Support For Ambitious GHG Reduction Goal

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is advocating more than 150 programs and initiatives that support his state’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25% by 2020, a plan that goes farther than any other state except Massachusetts.

With more than 3,000 miles of shoreline, Maryland is one of many US states at highest risk for sea level rise.

Aside from supporting a 55 million metric ton reduction in GHG emissions, the plan will generate $1.6 billion in economic benefits, create more than 37,000 jobs and positively impact public health, Governor O’Malley told business leaders, scientists, and environmental and renewable energy advocates who attended his state’s summit on climate change last week in Linthicum, Md.

Climate change is not an ideological issue any more than gravity is: it’s not about whether we move left or right, but whether we make the right choices for Marylanders. As severe weather events continue to grow in size and impact, and elongated trends of poor air quality continue, the costs of inaction would grow exponentially,” says Governor O’Malley. “In Maryland, we are moving forward and taking action by creating green jobs and protecting our land, water, air and public health.”

 

For more than six years, Governor O’Malley has been one of the most vocal national leaders for taking action on fighting climate change. Many of the programs announced in late July are expansions of existing efforts, meant to accelerate progress toward the bigger goals. He signed the state’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009, requiring Maryland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% from a 2006 baseline by 2020. The act will be up for another vote in 2015, which means state lawmakers will have to decide whether to stick with it or develop a new framework.

Governor O’Malley’s administration isn’t waiting around for that. Here are some of the main strategies that support the state’s reduction goal:

Accelerated renewable portfolio standards – The state currently requires for Maryland power providers to source 18% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, increasing to 20% by 2022. The new plan seeks an increase beyond the 20% to drive additional GHG emissions reductions. Earlier this year, Maryland became the first state to subsidize offshore wind development, which is being held back by huge upfront costs for developers. It is also one of the “Dazzling Dozen” states leading the way in solar installations.

Strengthened energy-efficiency measures – The EmPOWER Maryland program aims to reduce both Maryland’s per capita total electricity consumption and peak load demand by 15% by 2015, but the governor is calling for a higher goal.

A zero waste target – The state is adopting a strategy to ensure all products in Maryland can be reused, recycled or composted. Currently, the state requires that 60% of “government managed” waste be better utilized or recycled by 2020. The average county recycling rate is 45%.

Tougher emissions standards – The Maryland Clean Cars Program directly regulates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, effective with model year 2011 vehicles.

Improved regional cooperation – Maryland is part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the cooperative cap-and-trade initiative that includes nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. The RGGI voted to lower the regional emissions cap, and Maryland will work on changing its own standards this summer.

Many of these programs are in place; they will be strengthened through new policies and policies, says Governor O’Malley.

They have strong support within the state: a recent George Mason University report shows that 86% of Marylanders believe climate change is happening, while three-quarters of them believe that state and local governments should take action to protect communities from the impacts.

“Science is clear that climate change is occurring, is caused primarily by human activities and poses significant risks to Maryland as it does to the rest of the world” says Don Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “Significant reductions in emissions must be made over just a few decades to avoid the worst of the consequences and Maryland has an opportunity and a responsibility to lead.”

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

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United States Carbon: US states look to cut greenhouse gases

A growing number of American states are looking at ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the absence of federal climate change legislation, with a northeastern scheme for trading carbon becoming a model.

The proponents of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a market-based emissions reduction scheme adopted by nine northeastern states from Maine to Maryland, are touting their programme as a way to cut greenhouse gases and boost economic growth.

“I’ve been hearing from a lot of states lately, asking: ‘How would this programme work? If we were interested in joining what would the mechanism be, how would caps be set, how would money flow?’,” says Collin O’Mara, Delaware’s environment and energy secretary and chair of RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”).

The Environmental Protection Agency has already introduced a rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired power plants, although it missed its own April deadline for finalising it.

The agency is expected soon to start the process of applying the rule to the US’s 600 existing coal-fired plants, which produce more than one-quarter of the US’s emissions.

With no prospects for passing climate change legislation through Congress, the Obama administration has been using regulation to try to meet the president’s pledge to cut the US’s greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent compared with 2005 levels by 2020.

Opponents say that the rules will force existing coal-fired plants to close, while environmentalists contend that more aggressive regulation is needed to counteract global warming.

Regardless, the EPA will set targets for reductions but will probably leave states with a lot of flexibility on how these are met, analysts say.

That is leading some states – including Colorado and Illinois – to look closely at schemes like RGGI.

The scheme, introduced in 2009, applies only to power plants and was the first cap-and-trade type scheme in the country, auctioning emissions permits. California, another environmentally conscious state, followed suit with regulations aimed at reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions from all sources.

RGGI’s members say the scheme has been more successful than even they anticipated, and should serve as an example to the rest of the country.

“We’ve seen a dramatic reduction in emissions across the region, while at the same time we’ve seen an increase in productivity and an increase in energy production,” Mr O’Mara says.

“The lesson is that we can still support a healthy robust economy while improving energy efficiency,” he says.

Emissions from power plants in the RGGI area were a third lower than the limit in the first three years, while they were 45 per cent below the cap in 2012, although this was partly because the depressed economy reduced demand for electricity.

The Analysis Group, an independent Boston-based think-tank, meanwhile concluded that the scheme had given a $1.6bn boost to the regional economy and created 16,000 new jobs.

Massachusetts, which the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has named the most energy-efficient state for the second consecutive year, has received similar inquiries directly, says Rick Sullivan, the state’s energy secretary.

“Other states that are setting their own policies see that RGGI is up and running and tried and true, and has shown good results,” Mr Sullivan says. “We would welcome new members.”

RGGI member states have also been urging the EPA to bear their system in mind while formulating the new rule for existing coal-fired power plants – to make sure the rule complies with the RGGI system, rather than the other way around.

“If the federal rule mirrors the RGGI approach, including a cap and trade system, it will make it easier for states to adopt RGGI in concert with compliance with the federal rule,” says Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton administration climate change official.

“But if the federal rule is more prescriptive, there may not be the same sort of overlap with the RGGI process, and I think the jury is still out on this,” he says.

The EPA said it was “continuing to review the more than two million comments the agency received on the carbon pollution standard for new power plants”.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com