Currently showing posts tagged RGGI

  • State lawmakers bypass Congress to support 50 percent clean energy by 2030 at Paris Climate Conference

    Kibby wind farm’s community ribbon cutting in Maine’s Western Mts – the farm helps cut carbon pollution while supplying clean energy. Maine, as a part of RGGI, and has helped to lead the battle against carbon pollution. Photo by Ramona du Houx

     By Ramona du Houx

    Over 350 state and local elected officials, representing every state, launched a sign on letter calling for 50 percent clean energy by 2030, and 100 percent clean energy by 2050, at the Paris Climate Conference. More elected officals are expected to sign on the letter in the coming days.

    “California’s example shows that climate action can be an engine for broadly shared economic prosperity,” ​said California Senator President Pro Tempore Kevin De León, as he announced the initiative. ​“By promoting the development of clean energy resources, we are simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and creating jobs that can lift families out of poverty. If Congress won’t act, it’s incumbent on state and local leaders to do the job for them.”

    Former Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx, Des Moines, Iowa Mayor Frank Cownie, and Falcon Heights Minnesota Council member Beth Mercer-Taylor speak at an international press conference promoting 50 percent clean energy by 2030 and 100 percent clean energy by 2050 at the Paris Climate Conference.

    California, the world’s 7​th largest economy, recently passed legislation to achieve 50 percent clean energy by 2030.

    A number of current and former elected officials organized the initiative including former Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx, former Councilor and Deputy Town Supervisor Town of Caroline, New York, Dominic Frongillo, and California East Bay Municipal Utility District Director Andy Katz.

    “We organized this initiative to highlight the important work state and local governments are doing to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution, despite many members of Congress who lack the leadership to protect our families and communities,” ​said Cornell du Houx.​

    The announcement focused on the success state and local governments have been achieving in clean energy innovation and implementation.

    "We want the rest of the world to know that the climate-denying, anti-science voices in Congress do not represent America,” s​aid Nick Rathod​, Executive Director of the State Innovation Exchange. Innovations at the state level often drive our national policy forward and that is exactly what is happening in the fight against climate change. States are leading the way."

    Maine, as a member of the New England Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), has made great strides combating climate change, and RGGI has earned the state over $70million that has been invested in clean energy initiatives.

    Farmington’s new Medical Arts Center at Franklin Community Health Network’s is saving energy while delivering critical medical care, in a large part, because of $59,532 in incentives from RGGI funds awarded by the state’s Efficiency Maine- established during the Baldacci administration. 

    RGGI estimates a return of more than​ $2.9 billion​ in lifetime energy bill savings to more than 3.7 million participating households, and 17,800 businesses. California's Cap-and-Trade Program, which started in 2012, generated $969 million in revenue ​for the state through the end of 2014. It is expected to generate $2 billion a year or more in the future.

    The RGGI states have experienced over a 40 percent reduction in power sector carbon pollution since 2005, while the regional economy has grown eight percent. “This proves that we can reduce pollution that’s putting our communities’ health at risk while growing jobs and prosperity. From East Coast to West Coast — states and local communities are leading the way,” said Katz.

    This year, the United States has hit many clean energy milestones. America has added more clean power than ​natural ​gas, with clean energy generation up​ 11 percent​ while natural gas generation declined. During this time, jobs​ in the solar power industry grew 20 times faster than the rest of the economy.

    The transition to renewables creates jobs and opportunities.

    “Our region used to be coal country, and now is powered by 40 percent wind. That's the future that cities and states are creating,” s​aid Des Moines, IA Mayor Frank Cownie. “Where there used to be 23 coal mines 100 years ago in and around the city, now we are building a green space corridor and new industries. It's time for cities, states, the United States and the world to aggressively commit to creating a better, clean energy future."

    California East Bay Municipal Utility District Director Andy Katz, California Senator President Pro Tempore Kevin De León, West Palm Beach, FL Mayor Jeri Muoio, and Des Moines, IA Mayor Frank Cownie speak at an international press conference promoting 50 percent clean energy by 2030 and 100 percent clean energy by 2050 at the Paris Climate Conference. 

    When Congress has been gridlocked over how to combat climate change local communities have taken on the challenge.

    “Cities and states are on the front lines of climate change. As sea levels rise, our city is in danger,” ​said West Palm Beach, FL Mayor Jeri Muoio​. “To protect our future, and lead by example, we have made a commitment to power all our city vehicles without fossil fuels.”

    People in every state are beginning to understand that too many members of Congress are trying to obstruct the President’s clean energy initiatives. 

    “The political will to act on climate change exists in every state, and community. But it has been drowned out with millions of dollars dirty energy companies spend sowing doubt and denial. Right now, Exxon-Mobil is under investigation for misleading shareholders, and the American people,” ​said Frongillo​. “We need elected officials to lead a fair and swift transition to 100 percent clean energy.”

    Climate change has been at the root of many conflicts around the world. Sometimes, civil unrest breaks out, which too often has led to war.

    “A recent ​Pew study ​found ISIL , or Daesh, and climate change are seen as the top two global threats — and the two are interlinked. As a former Marine and now naval officer, I have seen this link firsthand. Instability caused by extreme weather helps terrorists like Daesh recruit fighters — Syria’s unusually​ severe drought​ helped trigger that conflict, ”said Cornell du Houx.​ ​“We need to protect our nation, and the world, from the real threats caused by climate change.”

    The initiative also supports the implementation of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, as it will bring the U.S. within seven percent of the stated goal.

    “We appreciate the administration’s leadership and commitment to working with state and local government,” said Cornell du Houx.​ “The launch of this letter is only the beginning. We will be working with state and local elected officials across America to ensure a healthier and safer future for our children. As leaders responsible for America’s present and future prosperity, we must take action now.”

    So far, in Maine, these elected officials have signed on to the letter. More are expected to sign, soon:

     David Miramant, State Senator, ME

    Ryan Tipping-Spitz, State Representative, ME

    Roberta Beavers, State Representative, ME

     Margaret Rotundo, State Representative, ME

     Michael Devin, State Representative, ME

     Brian Hubbell, State Representative, ME

    Deane Rykerson, State Representative, ME

    Pinny Beebe-Center, State Representative, ME

    James Davitt, State Representative, ME

     Richard Farnsworth, State Representative, ME

     Joyce McCreight, State Representative, ME

     Chuck Kruger, State Representative, ME

     Christine Burstein, State Representative, ME 

    Anne-Marie Mastraccio, State Representative, ME

     Linda Sanborn, State Representative, ME

     Denise Tepler, State Representative, ME

     The letter:

    Dear President Obama:

    We, the undersigned local and state elected officials, strongly support the goal to achieve more than 50 percent clean energy by 2030, putting us on the path to 100 percent clean energy sources by 2050.

    This is a necessary and achievable goal. With the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, the EPA estimates that the United States will increase our current generation of clean energy by 30 percent. This means we are already on track to generate 43 percent clean energy by 2030 by effectively implementing the Obama Administration’s policies. We appreciate the administration’s leadership supporting clean energy—and with additional leadership at the federal, state, and local levels, our country will successfully reach the 50 percent by 2030 goal.

    Clean energy is an American success story. It is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the United States and already provides 360,000 jobs. The solar industry alone employs 143,000 people—more individuals than work in coal mines—and grew 20 percent in 2014. Last year a new solar project was installed every 2.5 minutes.

    Transitioning to clean energy isn’t just the smart choice for growing our economy—it keeps our families healthy. According to the American Lung Association, almost half of Americans live in places where pollution levels are too often dangerous to breathe. By transitioning to clean energy, we can clear the air and reduce the health risks of pollution.

    The time to act is now. Fourteen of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2000, and 2014 was the warmest ever recorded. Our communities are already feeling the growing costs of increased number of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, droughts, and flooding. According to NOAA, the frequency of billion-dollar storm-related disasters has increased five percent each year since 1980.

    In Paris, the United States and our global partners will offer concrete targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the most devastating impacts of climate change. However, true success in Paris—and in the days, weeks and months that follow—will come down to America’s willingness to build on the momentum from the UN talks and continue to lead the world by implementing clean energy solutions.

    States, cities and businesses are already paving the way with clean energy solutions that are substantially and cost-effectively transitioning our country away from dirty fossil fuels and towards clean sources like wind and solar. As leaders responsible for America’s present and future prosperity, we must protect our communities from the dangers of climate change.

    To ensure our economic prosperity, to protect our health and children, and to ensure our security and safety, we need to act now to transition our country to more than 50 percent clean energy by 2030.

    Very Respectfully,

     350 state and local elected officials

  • Efficiency Maine Trust seeks input on 3-year plan leaders call for it to be strong so it will create savings


    "Energy efficiency is the biggest win-win-win I can imagine for Maine’s economy, environment, and energy future,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine urging the Efficiency Maine Trust and Public Utilities Commission to come up with a strong energy plan. Courtesy photo

    By Ramona du Houx

    As The Efficiency Maine Trust held a public input session, a diverse group of experts called on Efficiency Maine and the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to develop and approve, respectively, a strong three-year plan that will maximize energy savings for homes, businesses, industry, and municipalities.

    By maximizing energy savings businesses have had more funds to invest in their enterprises like hiring people.

    “Everybody seems to talk about the fact that Maine homes are some of the oldest and leakiest in the country,” said Richard Burbank, President of Evergreen Home Performance. “But Efficiency Maine and the businesses like mine aren’t just talking about it, we’re addressing the problem. Efficiency Maine is rapidly accelerating the rate of home energy improvements and, as a result, companies like ours are growing and hiring workers. Much more remains to be done, but we’re charting the right course.”

    The September 24th day-long stakeholder meeting at the Augusta Civic Center followed a contentious legislative session that ended in lawmakers voting unanimously to reaffirm their commitment to Maine’s strong energy-efficiency law.

    “Energy efficiency is the most powerful strategy Maine can pursue to address our energy challenges,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “This has been reaffirmed by the Legislature, the impressive results of Efficiency Maine programs, and by business leaders and ordinary Mainers every day. Having a strong three-year plan is the foundation of Maine’s progress on energy efficiency.”

    According to Maine law, every three years Efficiency Maine must develop a plan that lays out the programs, initiatives, and budgets it will use to help homeowners, small businesses, industrial producers, and others save money through energy-efficiency improvements. These range from helping homeowners install insulation, to helping small businesses cut electricity bills with lighting retrofits, to helping hospitals and paper mills install sophisticated high-efficiency equipment.

    In FY 2015 alone, Efficiency Maine helped roughly 4,000 businesses (most of them small businesses), 10,000 homeowners, and more than 3,000 units in larger multifamily buildings. It launched a new program specifically designed to help small businesses by bringing ready-to-go lighting improvements right to their doorstep. Roughly 350 small businesses participated in this initiative, primarily focused in Aroostook County and Waterville-Winslow.

    “Small businesses are a foundation of the Maine economy and our members are deeply committed to saving energy with energy efficiency,” said Will Ikard, Director of the Maine Small Business Coalition. “We applaud Efficiency Maine for beginning to focus more intensely on initiatives for small businesses and urge them to step up those efforts significantly in the next three years.”

    Maine’s energy-efficiency efforts get a big boost from our participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI.)

    RGGI is a cooperative market-based effort to reduce climate-changing carbon pollution from power plants and spur investments in energy efficiency and clean energy. Allowance auctions have taken place quarterly since September 2008, generating  $70,402,611.85 million in total for Maine.

     RGGI carbon markets currently generate about $15 million/year that Maine uses to support energy-efficiency efforts, specifically those that reduce oil use. This includes the Home Energy Savings Program and programs for large manufacturers.

    RGGI is providing significant benefits to Maine by supporting cost-effective weatherization and efficiency improvements through Efficiency Maine, which was developed under the Baldacci administration. Former State Senator and current Portland City Councilor Jon Hinck helped herald the legislation through the legislative process.

    "Not only has RGGI helped clean up and diversify Maine's energy mix and make us more energy efficient, it demonstrates the potential to make even more positive gains when done right," said Former State Senator and current Portland City Councilor Jon Hinck in an interview.

    Richard Burbank, President of Evergreen Home Performance (at the left in the courtesy photo) said, “ Efficiency Maine is rapidly accelerating the rate of home energy improvements and, as a result, companies like ours are growing and hiring workers."

    RGGI took on additional significance when the U.S. EPA finalized its Clean Power Plan, the first national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Under the Clean Power Plan, it is expected that Maine and the region will continue to operate RGGI (which is stricter than the Clean Power Plan), and continue to lower both energy costs and carbon pollution through energy efficiency.

    Over the first four years of its operation (2010-2014), Efficiency Maine initiatives yielded $1 billion in lifetime energy savings, primarily in electricity and heating oil reductions. Every dollar invested by Efficiency Maine—which is generally matched by spending on the part of the home or business—has yielded more than $5 in energy savings.

    “Energy efficiency is a fantastic investment for the state of Maine,” said Tom Tietenberg, Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at Colby College and a former board member of the Efficiency Maine Trust. “By helping homes and businesses overcome informational, technical, and financial barriers, Efficiency Maine is helping energy consumers of all types keep more of their dollars in their pockets. These savings, in turn, mean more spending within Maine and a boost to the economy."

    Maine policymakers have recognized the proven successes and excellent economic returns that energy efficiency provides. Maine law requires Efficiency Maine to develop a plan that seeks to capture all cost-effective energy-efficiency savings opportunities that it can achieve.

    In 2013, the Legislature passed an omnibus energy bill that clarified this standard, and capped ratepayer contributions at $60 million/year. In 2015, in reaction to a PUC decision to limit efficiency spending to less than $25 million, the Legislature voted unanimously, over Governor LePage’s veto, to reaffirm that efficiency spending could be up to $60 million, as long as the spending met the “cost-effectiveness” test.

    “We know three things very clearly,” said Voorhees. “First, energy efficiency is extremely cost-effective. Second, Maine’s efficiency efforts are a proven success. Third, there are huge opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of our buildings. If you put those together, the direction Maine must take is clear: we should do as much energy efficiency as we can. Energy efficiency is the biggest win-win-win I can imagine for Maine’s economy, environment, and energy future.”

  • The Clean Power Plan in Maine

    Graphic and article by Ramona du Houx

    President Obama’s Clean Energy Plan would limit carbon pollution from all power plants, set improved energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, boost clean renewable energy, and help Americans, businesses, and communities deal with the effects of climate change.

    "'We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change; we're the last generation that can do something about it.' We only get one home.  We only get one planet.  There’s no plan B," said President Barack Obama announcing the Clean Power Plan. 

    The EPA’s Clean Power Plan sets the first ever federal limits on the carbon pollution that comes from existing power plants and causes climate change. The plan, which encourages investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, is designed to achieve a 32 percent reduction in power-plant carbon pollution by 2030. The plan explicitly builds on an existing policy in Maine and the Northeast, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, which already sets a limit on carbon pollution from power plants.

    “Maine has suffered in many ways from coal-burning power plants to our south and west,” said Charles Colgan, Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Planning at USM, currently, Director of Research for the Center for the Blue Economy, and former state economist of Maine. “From an economics perspective, those regions have been burning cheap dirty coal, while we foot the pollution bill and struggle to compete. The Clean Power Plan helps level the playing field, because Maine has already taken major actions to clean up our power supply.   Maine people should not have to pay the price for cheap coal power produced elsewhere. It is good news for anyone who cares about Maine’s competitiveness.”   

    The Clean Power Plan provides considerable flexibility to states to develop strategies to meet the pollution reduction targets, including through regional cooperation. A recent analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists identified Maine as one of 14 states on track to surpass Clean Power Plan pollution targets for 2020.  Maine has considerable clean energy resources, such as wind, solar, hydro and ocean renewables, which create local jobs and energy security. All of this puts Maine at a competitive advantageas the Clean Power Plan is implemented across the nation.

    “As a farmer who has been producing maple syrup and growing hay for decades, I have already observed negative changes in the climate,” says Russell Black, a farmer and Maine state representative (R-Wilton). “If we want to hand the Maine we grew up with to our kids, whether we’re farmers or not, we need to take smart actions to prevent climate change from getting far worse. I’m proud of the bipartisan solutions Maine has adopted that help our economy while reducing pollution.”

     The Cap-n-trade carbon reduction plan will:

    Protect the health of American families.

    In 2030, it will:
    • Prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths;
    • Prevent 1,700 non-fatal heart attacks; 
    • Prevent 90,000 asthma attacks in children;
    • Prevent 300,000 missed workdays and schooldays.

    Boost our economy by:
    • Leading to 30 percent more renewable energy generation in 2030;
    • Creating tens of thousands of jobs; and
    • Continuing to lower the costs of renewable energy;

    Save the average American family
    • Nearly $85 a year on their energy bills in 2030
    • Save enough energy to power 30 million homes in 2030, and
    • Save consumers $155 billion from 2020-2030;

    Continue American leadership internationally
    on climate change by keeping us on track
    to meet the U.S. 2020 and 2025 emissions targets.

    The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), is the nation’s first market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and has placed Maine in a great position in the Clean Power Plan.

    “The Clean Power Plan is great news for Maine on so many different levels,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “It will ensure that other states join us and do their part to address climate change before it takes too great a toll on our economy, our health and our way of life. Maine has taken bold, effective action; these national limits on carbon pollution are way overdue.”

     RGGI allowance auctions have taken place quarterly since September 2008, generating  $64,804,926.89 million in total for Maine. By law, Maine invests RGGI revenue into energy efficiency programs and investments. From 2009 - 20011 Maine invested $27 million from its sale of carbon credits in energy efficiency projects, generating $80 million in reduced electric bills for residents and businesses. This activity added a total of $92 million to Maine’s economy, including more than 900 jobs, according to the NRDCM.

    Since 2013 Efficiency Maine has been allocating 35 percent of its revenues from RGGI to programs that will reduce home heating demand, lower costs and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

     “Out of the $2.5 million, nearly $1 million will go to the Home Energy Savings Program, enough to help another 1,000 homeowners invest in insulation, heat pumps and other energy-saving improvements,” added Voorhees.

    The Full Remarks by President Barack Obama about Clean Power Plan:

     THE PRESIDENT:  Gina, I want to thank you not just for the introduction, but for the incredible work that you and your team have been doing -- not just on this issue, but on generally making sure that we've got clean air, clean water, a great future for our kids. 

         I want to thank all the members of Congress who are here, as well, who have been fighting this issue, and sometimes at great odds with others, but are willing to take on what is going to be one of the key challenges of our lifetimes and future generations.  I want to thank our Surgeon General, who’s just been doing outstanding work and is helping to make the connection between this critical issue and the health of our families.

         Over the past six and a half years, we've taken on some of the toughest challenges of our time -- from rebuilding our economy after a devastating recession, to ending our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bringing almost all of our troops home, to strengthening our security through tough and principled diplomacy.  But I am convinced that no challenge poses a greater threat to our future and future generations than a changing climate.  And that's what brings us here today.

         Now, not everyone here is a scientist -- (laughter) -- but some of you are among the best scientists in the world.  And what you and your colleagues have been showing us for years now is that human activities are changing the climate in dangerous ways. Levels of carbon dioxide, which heats up our atmosphere, are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years; 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.  And we've been setting a lot of records in terms of warmest years over the last decade.  One year doesn’t make a trend, but 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have fallen within the first 15 years of this century.

         Climate change is no longer just about the future that we're predicting for our children or our grandchildren; it's about the reality that we're living with every day, right now. 

         The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security.  While we can't say any single weather event is entirely caused by climate change, we've seen stronger storms, deeper droughts, longer wildfire seasons.  Charleston and Miami now flood at high tide.  Shrinking ice caps forced National Geographic to make the biggest change in its atlas since the Soviet Union broke apart. 

         Over the past three decades, nationwide asthma rates have more than doubled, and climate change puts those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital.  As one of America’s governors has said, “We're the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.”

         And that's why I committed the United States to leading the world on this challenge, because I believe there is such a thing as being too late. 

    Most of the issues that I deal with -- and I deal with some tough issues that cross my desk -- by definition, I don't deal with issues if they’re easy to solve because somebody else has already solved them.  And some of them are grim.  Some of them are heartbreaking.  Some of them are hard.  Some of them are frustrating.  But most of the time, the issues we deal with are ones that are temporally bound and we can anticipate things getting better if we just kind of plug away at it, even incrementally.  But this is one of those rare issues -- because of its magnitude, because of its scope -- that if we don't get it right we may not be able to reverse, and we may not be able to adapt sufficiently.  There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change.  (Applause.)

    Now, that shouldn’t make us hopeless; it's not as if there’s nothing we can do about it.  We can take action.  Over the past several years, America has been working to use less dirty energy, more clean energy, waste less energy throughout our economy.  We've set new fuel economy standards that mean our cars will go twice as far on a gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade. Combined with lower gas prices, these standards are on pace to save drivers an average of $700 at the pump this year.  We doubled down on our investment in renewable energy.  We're generating three times as much wind power, 20 times as much solar power as we did in 2008.

    These steps are making a difference.  Over the past decade, even as our economy has continued to grow, the United States has cut our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth.  (Applause.)  That's the good news.  But I am here to say that if we want to protect our economy and our security and our children’s health, we're going to have to do more.  The science tells us we have to do more.

    This has been our focus these past six years.  And it's particularly going to be our focus this month.  In Nevada, later in August, I'll talk about the extraordinary progress we've made in generating clean energy -- and the jobs that come with it -- and how we can boost that even further.  I'll also be the first American President to visit the Alaskan Arctic, where our fellow Americans have already seen their communities devastated by melting ice and rising oceans, the impact on marine life.  We're going to talk about what the world needs to do together to prevent the worst impacts of climate change before it's too late.

    And today, we're here to announce America’s Clean Power Plan -- a plan two years in the making, and the single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against global climate change.  (Applause.) 

    Right now, our power plants are the source of about a third of America’s carbon pollution.  That's more pollution than our cars, our airplanes and our homes generate combined.  That pollution contributes to climate change, which degrades the air our kids breathe.  But there have never been federal limits on the amount of carbon that power plants can dump into the air.  Think about that.  We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury and sulfur and arsenic in our air or our water -- and we're better off for it.  But existing power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air.

    For the sake of our kids and the health and safety of all Americans, that has to change.  For the sake of the planet, that has to change. 

    So, two years ago, I directed Gina and the Environmental Protection Agency to take on this challenge.  And today, after working with states and cities and power companies, the EPA is setting the first-ever nationwide standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants.  (Applause.) 

    Here’s how it works.  Over the next few years, each state will have the change to put together its own plan for reducing emissions -- because every state has a different energy mix.  Some generate more of their power from renewables; some from natural gas, or nuclear, or coal.  And this plan reflects the fact that not everybody is starting in the same place.  So we're giving states the time and the flexibility they need to cut pollution in a way that works for them. 

    And we'll reward the states that take action sooner instead of later -- because time is not on our side here.  As states work to meet their targets, they can build on the progress that our communities and businesses are already making.

    A lot of power companies have already begun modernizing their plants, reducing their emissions -- and by the way, creating new jobs in the process.  Nearly a dozen states have already set up their own market-based programs to reduce carbon pollution.  About half of our states have set energy efficiency targets.  More than 35 have set renewable energy targets.  Over 1,000 mayors have signed an agreement to cut carbon pollution in their cities.  And last week, 13 of our biggest companies, including UPS and Walmart and GM, made bold, new commitments to cut their emissions and deploy more clean energy. 

    So the idea of setting standards and cutting carbon pollution is not new.  It's not radical.  What is new is that, starting today, Washington is starting to catch up with the vison of the rest of the country.  And by setting these standards, we can actually speed up our transition to a cleaner, safer future.

    With this Clean Power Plan, by 2030, carbon pollution from our power plants will be 32 percent lower than it was a decade ago.  And the nerdier way to say that is that we’ll be keeping 870 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of our atmosphere.  (Applause.)  The simpler, layman’s way of saying that is it’s like cutting every ounce of emission due to electricity from 108 million American homes.  Or it's the equivalent of taking 166 million cars off the road. 

    By 2030, we will reduce premature deaths from power plant emissions by nearly 90 percent -- and thanks to this plan, there will be 90,000 fewer asthma attacks among our children each year. (Applause.)  And by combining this with greater investment in our booming clean energy sector, and smarter investments in energy efficiency, and by working with the world to achieve a climate agreement by the end of this year, we can do more to slow, and maybe even eventually stop, the carbon pollution that’s doing so much harm to our climate.

    So this is the right thing to do.  I want to thank, again, Gina and her team for doing it the right way.  Over the longest engagement process in EPA history, they fielded more than 4 million public comments; they worked with states, they worked with power companies, and environmental groups, and faith groups, and people across our country to make sure that what we were doing was realistic and achievable, but still ambitious. 

    And some of those people are with us here today.  So, Tanya Brown -- Tanya, wave, go ahead -- there’s Tanya.  (Applause.)  Tanya Brown has joined up with moms across America to spread the word about the dangers climate change pose to the health of our children -- including Tanya’s daughter, Sanaa.  There’s Sanaa, right there.   

    Dr. Sumita Khatri has spent her career researching the health impacts of pollution at the Cleveland Clinic, and helping families whose lives are impacted every single day.  Doctor, thank you.  (Applause.) 

    Sister Joan Marie Steadman has helped rally Catholic women across America to take on climate.  Sister, thank you so much for your leadership.  (Applause.)  And she’s got a pretty important guy on her side -- as Pope Francis made clear in his encyclical this summer, taking a stand against climate change is a moral obligation.  And Sister Steadman is living up to that obligation every single day.  

    Now, let’s be clear.  There will be critics of what we’re trying to do.  There will be cynics that say it cannot be done.  Long before the details of this Clean Power Plan were even decided, the special interests and their allies in Congress were already mobilizing to oppose it with everything they’ve got. They will claim that this plan will cost you money -- even though this plan, the analysis shows, will ultimately save the average American nearly $85 a year on their energy bills.

    They’ll claim we need to slash our investments in clean energy, it's a waste of money -- even though they’re happy to spend billions of dollars a year in subsidizing oil companies.  They’ll claim this plan will kill jobs -- even though our transition to a cleaner energy economy has the solar industry, to just name one example, creating jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. 

    They’ll claim this plan is a “war on coal,” to scare up votes -- even as they ignore my plan to actually invest in revitalizing coal country, and supporting health care and retirement for coal miners and their families, and retraining those workers for better-paying jobs and healthier jobs.  Communities across America have been losing coal jobs for decades.  I want to work with Congress to help them, not to use them as a political football.  Partisan press releases aren’t going to help those families. 

    Even more cynical, we've got critics of this plan who are actually claiming that this will harm minority and low-income communities -- even though climate change hurts those Americans the most, who are the most vulnerable.  Today, an African-American child is more than twice as likely to be hospitalized from asthma; a Latino child is 40 percent more likely to die from asthma.  So if you care about low-income, minority communities, start protecting the air that they breathe, and stop trying to rob them of their health care.  (Applause.)  You could also expand Medicaid in your states, by the way.  (Laughter.) 

    Here’s the thing.  We've heard these same stale arguments before.  Every time America has made progress, it's been despite these kind of claims.  Whenever America has set clear rules and smarter standards for our air, our water, our children’s health, we get the same scary stories about killing jobs and businesses and freedom.  It's true. 

    I'm going to go off script here just for a second.  (Laughter.)  Because this is important -- because sometimes I think we feel as if there’s nothing we can do.  Tomorrow is my birthday, so I'm starting to reflect on age.  And in thinking about what we were doing heretoday, I was reminded about landing in Los Angeles to attend a college as a freshman, as an 18-year-old.  And it was late August.  I was moving from Hawaii.  And I got to the campus, and I decided -- I had a lot of pent-up energy and I wanted to go take a run.  And after about five minutes, suddenly I had this weird feeling, I couldn't breathe.  And the reason was, back in 1979, Los Angeles still was so full of smog that there were days where people who were vulnerable just could not go outside.  And they were fairly frequent.

    And folks who are older than me can remember the Cayuga River burning because of pollution, and acid rain threatening to destroy all the great forests of the Northeast.  And you fast-forward 30, 40 years later, and we solved those problems.  But at the time, the same characters who are going to be criticizing this plan were saying, this is going to kill jobs, this is going to destroy businesses, this is going to hurt low-income people, it's going to be wildly expensive.  And each time, they were wrong. 

    And because we pushed through, despite those scaremongering tactics, you can actually run in Los Angeles without choking.  And folks can actually take a boat out on that river.  And those forests are there.

    So we got to learn lessons.  We got to know our history.  The kinds of criticisms that you're going to hear are simply excuses for inaction.  They’re not even good business sense.  They underestimate American business and American ingenuity. 

    In 1970, when Republican President Richard Nixon decided to do something about the smog that was choking our cities, they warned that the new pollution standards would decimate the auto industry.  It didn’t happen.  Catalytic converters worked.  Taking the lead out of gasoline worked.  Our air got cleaner. 

    In 1990, when Republican President George H.W. Bush decided to do something about acid rain, they said the bills would go up, our lights would go off, businesses would suffer “a quiet death.” It didn’t happen.  We cut acid rain dramatically, and it cost much less than anybody expected -- because businesses, once incentivized, were able to figure it out.

    When we restricted leaded fuel in our cars, cancer-causing chemicals in plastics, it didn’t end the oil industry, it didn’t end the plastics industry; American chemists came up with better substitutes.  The fuel standards we put in place a couple of years ago didn’t cripple automakers.  The American auto industry retooled.  Today, our automakers are selling the best cars in the world at a faster pace than they have in almost a decade.  They’ve got more hybrids, and more plug-ins, and more high fuel-efficient cars, giving consumers more choice than ever before, and saving families at the pump. 

    We can figure this stuff out as long as we're not lazy about it; as long as we don't take the path of least resistance.  Scientists, citizens, workers, entrepreneurs -- together as Americans, we disrupt those stale, old debates, upend old ways of thinking.  Right now, we’re inventing whole new technologies, whole new industries -- not looking backwards, we're looking forwards. 

    And if we don't do it, nobody will.  The only reason that China is now looking at getting serious about its emissions is because they saw that we were going to do it, too.  When the world faces its toughest challenges, America leads the way forward.  That’s what this plan is about.  (Applause.) 

    Now, I don't want to fool you here.  This is going to be hard; dealing with climate change in its entirety, it's challenging.  No single action, no single country will change the warming of the planet on its own.  But today, with America leading the way, countries representing 70 percent of the carbon pollution from the world’s energy sector have announced plans to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.  In December, with America leading the way, we have a chance to put in place one of the most ambitious international climate agreements in human history.  

    And it’s easy to be cynical and to say climate change is the kind of challenge that’s just too big for humanity to solve.  I am absolutely convinced that’s wrong.  We can solve this thing. But we have to get going.  It's exactly the kind of challenge that's big enough to remind us that we’re all in this together. 

    Last month, for the first time since 1972, NASA released a “blue marble,” a single snapshot of the Earth taken from outer space.  And so much has changed in the decades between that first picture and the second.  Borders have shifted, generations have come and gone, our global population has nearly doubled.  But one thing hasn’t changed -- our planet is as beautiful as ever.  It still looks blue.  And it's as vast, but also as fragile, as miraculous as anything in this universe. 

    This “blue marble” belongs to all of us.  It belongs to these kids who are here.  There are more than 7 billion people alive today; no matter what country they’re from, no matter what language they speak, every one of them can look at this image and say, “That’s my home.”  And “we’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change; we're the last generation that can do something about it.” We only get one home.  We only get one planet.  There’s no plan B. 

    I don't want my grandkids not to be able to swim in Hawaii, or not to be able to climb a mountain and see a glacier because we didn’t do something about it.  I don't want millions of people’s lives disrupted and this world more dangerous because we didn’t do something about it.  That would be shameful of us.  This is our moment to get this right and leave something better for our kids.  Let’s make most of that opportunity.


  • Maine earns over $3.6 million in 26th RGGI cap-n-trade auction


    To date Maine has generated $59,680,379.88 from RGGI.

     By Ramona du Houx

    Maine earned over $3.6 million from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) 26th auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances. RGGI is the nation’s first market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas pollution— essentially the East Coast’s successful cap-and-trade program. RGGI has become a model for the nation and shows positive results that the EPA's Clean Power Plan can use as evidence for their market-based regulatory program.

    “I think these RGGI efforts are good for the economy and the environment. One that truly works hand and hand,” said Former Governor John Baldacci, whose administration spearheaded the creation of RGGI with other regional states.

    To date Maine has generated $59,680,379.88 from RGGI. The nine states participating in the collation have earned $1.9 billion cumulatively from all RGGI CO2 allowance auctions.

    "Our RGGI experience demonstrates that cost-effective approaches to implementing EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan are available and if correctly designed can support state economies,” said Rob Klee, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and a Vice-Chair of the RGGI, Inc. Board of Directors. 

    After 26 successful auctions, the RGGI states have demonstrated that it is possible to cost effectively achieve pollution reduction goals while maintaining grid reliability and affordability for consumers,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Commissioner of the Maryland Public Service Commission and Chair of the RGGI, Inc. Board of Directors. “As our second control period draws to a close, the RGGI states continue to deliver cleaner air and economic benefits for our region. ”Cumulative proceeds from all RGGI CO2 allowance auctions currently total $1.9 billion dollars."

     The 26th auction generated more than $94 million for reinvestment by the RGGI states in a variety of consumer benefit initiatives, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, direct bill assistance, and greenhouse gas abatement programs.

    According to the independent market monitor’s report, electricity generators and their corporate affiliates have won 78 percent of CO2 allowances sold in RGGI auctions since 2008. RGGI requires a regulated power plant to hold CO2 allowances equal to its emissions to demonstrate compliance for each three-year control period. RGGI’s second control period began on January 1, 2012 and ends on December 31, 2014. Regulated power plants will be required to demonstrate compliance for the second control period on March 2, 2015.

    "The RGGI states have successfully pioneered the nation’s first market-based program to reduce carbon pollution, achieving a 40 percent reduction in power sector emissions since 2005 and revising the emissions cap to achieve a 50 percent reduction by 2020,” said Joe Martens, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and a Vice-Chair of the RGGI, Inc. Board of Directors. “Reinvestment of auction proceeds is stimulating a market transformation to greater energy efficiency and growth of clean energy, and that yields economic, social and environmental benefits."

    "Our RGGI experience demonstrates that cost-effective approaches to implementing EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan are available and if correctly designed can support state economies,” said Rob Klee, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and a Vice-Chair of the RGGI, Inc. Board of Directors.