Wednesday, August 16, 2006

NE-Mid-Atlantic States Release Final Model GHG Rule

Aug 15: The participating states issued a model rule for the Northeast-Mid-Atlantic Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program. The model set of regulations details the proposed program, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The model rule will form the basis of individual state regulatory and/or statutory proposals to implement the program [See WIMS 3/27/06]. The states that agreed to sign the MOU include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. Development of the model rule was subject to detailed public input. On March 23, 2006, the participating states released a draft version of the model rule for public comment. The states received public input on the draft model rule for a period of 60 days. In excess of 1,000 pages of comments were received from more than 100 organizations.

The states made substantial revisions to the draft model rule in response to public comments. Some of the changes made to the model rule required substantive changes to the MOU. As a result, an amendment to the MOU was also agreed to and signed by the agency heads of the energy regulatory and environmental agencies in each participating state. The participating states also released a Post-Model Rule Action Plan outlining the actions that will be taken to implement the program and work items that will be undertaken to support program implementation.

Under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), seven Northeast states agreed to propose a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which are a major contributor to global warming. This is the first mandatory cap-and-trade program for CO2 emissions in U.S. history. In addition to the states listed above, the State of Maryland recently adopted legislation requiring Maryland to join RGGI by June 2007. Under RGGI, the seven states will launch a regional cap-and-trade system that utilizes emissions credits or allowances to limit the total amount of CO2 emissions. Beginning in 2009, emissions of CO2 from power plants in the region would be capped at approximately current levels -- 121 million tons annually -- with this cap remaining in place until 2015. The states would then begin reducing emissions incrementally over a four-year period to achieve a 10 percent reduction by 2019. Compared to the emissions increases the region would see from the sector without the program, RGGI will result in an approximately 35 percent reduction by 2020.

Access links to a press release, the model rule, rule revisions, the rule action plan and the MOU (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Climate Change website for links to additional resources [*Climate]

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