Environmental and energy groups across New York state are calling on Gov. David Paterson to back away from promises he made to power producers to rewrite the state’s role in nation’s first plan to cut global warming pollution, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). According to a March 6 story in the New York Times, the governor made a deal with the Independent Power Producers of New York (IPPNY) last fall to re-open the regulations after the group failed to pressure the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to weaken the RGGI rules.
The RGGI is the nation’s first enforceable plan to cap and trade global warming emissions from power plants. The initiative is a critical piece of the Northeast’s overall strategy to address climate change, which includes energy conservation and generating a greater portion of energy from clean, renewable sources. Late last year, New York cleared the way to participate in a December auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution permits. The RGGI regulatory framework will hold CO2 emissions constant through 2014, and then gradually reduce those levels.
The groups protesting Paterson’s retreat from the RGGI, led by Environmental Advocates of New York, include Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Public Interest Research Group, Earthjustice, Columbia University School of Law Environmental Law Clinic, and Pace Energy & Climate Center. (ReadMedia Newswire, March 6)
Ironically, Paterson’s retreat comes as several states are fighting the federal government to impose more stringent rules on emissions than those mandated by the EPA. However, we dissent from the the RGGI’s provisions on carbon trading.