Boston — Officials in Governor Charlie Baker’s administration announced their support today for strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a program that caps global warming pollution from power plants in nine northeastern states.
Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts, issued the following statement:
“In Massachusetts, we have a proud, decades-long, bipartisan tradition of leading the way in the fight against climate change. We’re thrilled to see Governor Baker take up that mantle at a time when global warming poses an urgent threat to our communities and our way of life.
“This July was the hottest month ever recorded, and we’re on track for 2016 to be the hottest year on record. If we continue down the path we’re on, communities across Massachusetts will see an increase in extreme storms and life-threatening heat waves.
“The good news is that we have the resources and the technology to move quickly towards 100 percent renewable energy and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
“With a stronger RGGI, a big commitment to offshore wind, and a recent decision from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court casting doubt on proposed fossil fuel pipeline projects, we have a real shot at putting Massachusetts on track towards 100 percent renewable energy. Governor Baker took a big step in that direction today, and we hope he continues to lead on this issue.”
Martin Suuberg, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, said that the Baker administration supports doubling the rate at which emissions decline under RGGI, from 2.5 percent per year to 5 percent per year. Baker administration officials are pushing other states to get on board with a 5 percent annual reduction in emissions.
Officials from Massachusetts and other states are currently undertaking a review of RGGI, and are expected to propose changes to the program in the coming months.
Since the launch of the program in 2008, RGGI states have reduced their emissions by 16 percent more than other states, while seeing 3.6 percent more economic growth. Massachusetts has received nearly $416 million in funding for clean energy and energy efficiency programs through RGGI, helping residents, businesses, and municipalities to reduce their energy consumption and transition to clean energy.
Environment Massachusetts is the statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.