How and Why the Northeastern US States' Cap and Trade is Working


What We Can Learn from RGGI
Around this time last year, as talks in Congress about how to curb carbon and give clean energy and jobs a boost were intensifying, I briefly exhorted Obama to take a gander at the cap and trade system already up and running in the United States. Called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, it's a system enacted between 10 northeastern states to curb carbon via the familiar cap and trade mechanism. It's been up and running for six years now--and it's working. There are plenty of lessons to be learned from RGGI--pronounced 'Reggie' (hey, that should go well with Keggles!)--especially since it goes a length in disproving some of the oft-repeated charges against taking action to curb carbon emissions. Climate Progress explains:
As Congress looks for a way to price global warming pollution at the federal level, 10 Northeastern states have already put in place a market-based carbon emissions reduction program, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, that just completed its seventh successful auction of pollution permits. And while opponents of clean energy reform falsely claim that a cap-and-trade system would harm the economy, RGGI provides a working model and active case study of how reducing pollution can actually drive economic growth. By 2018 the 10 RGGI states will have reduced their power sector carbon emissions by 10 percent, created thousands of homegrown clean energy jobs, and driven billions of dollars of public and private investment into the clean energy technologies of the future.
All of which, of course, are the primary goals and selling points of a major, nationwide initiative. And despite lowering carbon emissions by a sizable chunk, RGGI hasn't contributed to any sort of economic collapse, as foes of clean energy reform claim carbon reduction initiatives would. On the contrary, the latest survey shows that the mechanism has created jobs, since the hundreds of millions of dollars generated from the pollution permit auctions ($538 million this year) are put toward the deployment of clean energy technology.

The states that participate in RGGI include New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and together make up a full 20% of the US economy--and RGGI, while far from flawless, has been a boon, not a bane, to each. I for one live in New York, and my power costs haven't risen any noticeable amount over the last four years.

For a persuasive argument that a market-based solution to curbing carbon can work, look into RGGI.

More on the RGGI
Wal-Mart, GE, and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ( RGGI )
Rhode Island to Join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
Maryland to Use $70 Million of Climate Revenue for Tax Rebates

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