What You Need to Know About the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
How does this affect Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania is the third-highest greenhouse gas polluting state in the nation and a significant contributor to climate change. Pennsylvanians are experiencing climate change today with increased flooding causing landslides, extreme weather, and ticks that carry Lyme disease. In fact, Pennsylvania has the most cases of Lyme disease in the nation.
One of the state’s largest greenhouse gas polluters are coal and natural gas power plants. There are no limits on the amount of climate warming carbon dioxide these power plants can spew into the air.
The good news is that PA can reduce its carbon pollution by participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) — an effort to cut carbon pollution from power plants across 10 states.
How does RGGI work?
RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”) is a “cap and invest” program. It puts a science-based cap, or limit, on the amount of carbon dioxide that covered power plants can release into our air, and this cap gets ratcheted down over time.
This system sets “allowances” with one allowance representing a single ton of carbon emissions (1 allowance = 1 ton of carbon dioxide).
- States set declining limits on CO2 pollution from power plants.
- Power plants buy allowances equal to the amount of carbon pollution they create.
- Power plants that have less carbon pollution buy fewer allowances.
- Allowances are bought and sold within the RGGI program.
- Revenue from selling allowances can be invested into projects that reduce pollution.
REDUCED AIR POLLUTION
Participating in RGGI would provide incentives for power companies to invest in cleaner energy, while improving efficiency and reducing air pollution. In fact, by participating, PA could reduce carbon pollution by 188 million tons from 2022 through 2030 — equal to taking more than 4 million cars off the road.
PROVEN TO WORK
RGGI has been proven to work! States that participate in RGGI have reduced power sector carbon dioxide pollution by 45% since 2005. They have also reduced harmful pollutants, like mercury, soot, sulfur dioxide, and heavy metals.
A children’s health study shows that RGGI has helped states to avoid asthma attacks, preterm births, low birth weight, and childhood autism by lowering harmful soot from power plants. Power plants are often located near communities of color and low-income communities, making it imperative to ensure these communities benefit from participating in RGGI.
RGGI is supported by a majority of Pennsylvanians. A poll conducted last year found that 79% of Pennsylvanians support placing a limit on carbon pollution from power plants.