Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, is a cooperative effort by Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. RGGI follows the California's greenhouse gas rules, which limit the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases that can be emitted from vehicle tailpipes. In December 2005 nine states announced an agreement to implement the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Governors of the participating states. The states that agreed to sign the MOU are
On March 23, 2006, the participating states released a Draft Model Rule for public comment. The model set of regulations details the proposed program, as outlined in the MOU. Once finalized, the model rule will form the basis of individual state regulatory and/or statutory proposals to implement the program.
Maryland Joins RGGI
Maryland Legislature Passes Healthy Air Act
April 6, 2006 - - The Healthy Air Act ( HB 189 / SB 154) requires that emissions of four main pollutants 1) mercury, 2) carbon, 3) nitrogen, and 4) sulfur be reduced at the seven dirtiest coal-burning plants in Maryland. Nitrogen oxide will be capped at 20,216 tons a year by 2009. Sulfur dioxide levels will be limited to 48,618 tons a year by 2010. And mercury emissions are to be reduced 80 percent by 2010. AAEA president Norris McDonald, right, provided testimony in support of the legislation before Maryland House & Senate Committees. (4P Bill House 4P Bill Senate).
The Healthy Air Act requires carbon dioxide reductions by having Maryland join a multistate program called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI sets goals for states to reduce carbon dioxide. Companies will be able to sell or trade their carbon dioxide allowances. Maryland is an "observer" of RGGI, participating in policy discussions, but not agreeing to make reductions. The law allows the state to withdraw from the regional consortium after January 1, 2009 if reliability and cost issues become a problem.
RGGI addresses stationary sources of carbon dioxide while the California law address mobile sources carbon dioxide. Every major automaker that sells vehicles in the United States is suing to have the California rule overturned. The suit was filed in federal court in California in December 2004. EPA has sided with the automakers and favors other methods of lowering carbon dioxide besides regulating tailpipe emissions. The agency and automakers believe the changes will limit consumer choice and raise vehicle prices.
The California rule, which was approved by a state environmental board in 2004 and, with federal approval, would take effect for the 2009 model year -- requires a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2016. The EPA's position is crucial because it would have to issue a waiver before any of California's greenhouse gas regulations could go into effect. If California is permitted to impose the new regulations, the federal Clean Air Act allows other states with poor air quality to adopt California's rules after agency approval.