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Stepping Up Pace on Fighting Climate Change

The new RGGI reductions will reduce carbon pollution by more than 132 million tons through 2030. (Benita5/Pixabay)
The new RGGI reductions will reduce carbon pollution by more than 132 million tons through 2030. (Benita5/Pixabay)
August 25, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut and eight other states are stepping up their efforts to cut carbon emissions.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, has announced it will extend its pollution cap to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent of 2020 levels over the next 13 years.

RGGI says that will prevent an additional 132 million tons of pollution through 2030.

Peter Shattuck, director of the Clean Energy Initiative at the Acadia Center, calls the agreement a major victory for bipartisan action to address climate change.

"This shows that northeast states are stepping up to fill the void left by the Trump administration's irresponsible and misguided efforts to roll back every major environmental protection on the books," he states.

RGGI estimates that extending the cap will bring carbon emissions in the region down 65 percent from 2009 levels. The Trump administration argues that environmental regulations hinder industrial development and economic growth.

The nine RGGI states together comprise the sixth-largest economy in the world, and Shattuck says RGGI's record of pollution reduction and economic growth proves that the cooperative's approach to fighting climate change can work.

"It puts a price on pollution, which unleashes innovative ways to avoid that pollution,” he points out. “And that's what we've seen from RGGI and other market-based programs."

But he cautions that the even these further carbon reductions by RGGI aren't enough to slow global climate change. Shattuck says more states need to join in the effort, and move beyond RGGI's mission of cutting power-plant pollution.

"This step helps clean up the electric sector, but we're also going to need to tackle transportation, which is the largest source of climate pollution in the region and now, the country as a whole," he stresses.

Two more states, New Jersey and Virginia, are likely to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative next year.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT