ALBANY — New York State agencies on Dec. 1 adopted new regulations to “strengthen” the regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI).
The regulations “advance” New York’s portion of the 30 percent regional cap reduction from 2021 to 2030, “ensuring that regional emissions are 65 percent below the starting cap level by 2030 and will align New York’s cap with the other participating RGGI states,” the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.
Cuomo’s office refers to RGGI as “the nation’s first regional program to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.”
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) adopted the regulations.
These emissions reductions support Cuomo’s requirements under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) to slash greenhouse-gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050.
With this update, the regional cap in 2030 will be 65 percent below the 2009 starting level.
Revisions to NYSERDA’s regulations will also ensure that the investment of proceeds from allowance auctions provide equitable benefits to disadvantaged communities, in accordance with the CLCPA, the state says.
Another “key change” to the RGGI program is the creation of the emissions containment reserve (or ECR). This is a new feature designed to ensure additional carbon-dioxide emissions reductions by auctioning fewer allowances in the event the cost of such reductions is less than anticipated. The regulations also simplify the program and ensure that reductions from power plants continue by removing all offset categories except for emissions from livestock operations, per the state.
Environmental Advocates NY, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, and other groups have been pushing for these pollution-reduction measures and calling on NYSERDA, the agency that controls climate spending, to ensure the appropriate amount of funds are spent in line with CLCPA mandates, per a Dec. 1 statement from Environmental Advocates NY.
The Dec. 1 action “demonstrates the state’s commitment” to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions with equity and justice as required by the state’s climate law — the CLCPA.
Conor Bambrick, director of climate policy at Environmental Advocates NY, and Annel Hernandez, associate director at New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, said the following in a statement reacting to the state’s announcement.
“New York State has passed the first test laid out by our climate law. Communities of color that are bearing the brunt of pollution will find some welcome relief under these new rules. Investing 35 percent in disadvantaged communities on the front lines of climate change is a good first step that creates the potential to generate real, everlasting change, good green jobs, and a healthier future for millions.”