Appalachian Mountain Club Applauds Governors for Updated RGGI Plan to Reduce Pollution Emissions by 30 Percent

August 23, 2017

BOSTON, Mass.– The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) applauded nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic governors Aug. 23 for setting ambitious air pollution reduction goals in a plan to extend the successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  This regional action to address climate change is refreshing news in the face of eroding national protections for public health and the environment, according to Georgia Murray, AMC staff scientist.

These changes come as a result of a planned review of RGGI, a market-based cap-and-trade program that sets a regional cap on power plant emissions and provides a system for pollution allowances to be bought and sold, allowing power producers flexibility in meeting regional target emissions. The joint decision by the governors will strengthen the program and build on ongoing success with significant health and economic benefits to our region.

Proposed RGGI Improvements:

  • Extend the program beyond 2020 to 2030.
  • Decrease the emissions cap by a total of 30 percent.
  • Adjust the cap downward to clear the existing banked allowance after 2020.
  • Adjust the “Cost Containment Reserve” to avoid flooding the market with excess allowances.
  • Initiate an “Emissions Containment Reserve” to absorb extra allowances that go unsold and keep the allowance price from going too low.

This update is expected to result in a reduction of 132 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution throughout the region in 2030.  The avoided emissions are the equivalent of taking nearly 28 million of cars off the road each year.

“This bipartisan coalition of states working together on climate action is needed now more than ever, and RGGI not only has a solid environmental track record, but also demonstrates that addressing carbon emissions is economically beneficial, too,” AMC’s Murray said.

For eight years this successful market-based program has resulted in reduced carbon emissions, increased job growth, and fostered renewable and energy efficiency investments. (More information is available at here.)  The continuing leadership of the RGGI states brings us closer to many of the participating states’ 2050 climate action goals by extending the program an additional decade.

Looking forward, RGGI could expand to other states. New Jersey, which was originally part of the program, may rejoin as both Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates ran on the platform to rejoin RGGI. Virginia’s Governor Terry McAuliffe has set the stage to link with RGGI in the near term, in recognition of the success of a cap-and-invest model.  It is also expected that incremental reviews will remain a part of RGGI, allowing for analysis and continued progress.

Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of America’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. AMC helps people of all ages and abilities to explore and develop a deep appreciation of the natural world. With chapters from Maine to Washington, D.C., guidebooks and maps, and unique lodges and huts, AMC helps people get outdoors on their own, with family and friends, and through activities close to home and beyond. AMC invites the public to support its conservation advocacy and research, youth programming, and care of 1,800 miles of trails. More information is available at

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Georgia Murray

Conservation and Nature Notes blogger Georgia Murray has been AMC's Air Quality Staff Scientist since 2000. She has an M.S. degree in Earth Sciences from the University of New Hampshire and currently oversees the AMC's air quality and climate monitoring programs.