RGGI overestimated the cost of cutting pollution and set the cap too high. That’s an understatement. “Too high” might mean the cap was just a bit lower than actual emissions, only requiring a little emissions trimming. Cleverly, RGGI built a 2012 program review into its design to catch and correct exactly this type of mistake. As a result of this review, RGGI updated its cap, and the new, tightened cap went into effect in 2014 (see steep drop in the red line).
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The programs RGGI invested in during just its first 2.5 years will add $1.6 million in net benefits to RGGI state economies and create 16,000 jobs. If RGGI continues auctioning and investing, it could add over $8 billion in net benefit and add 57,000 job-years of employment by 2020.
Total electricity use in the RGGI states was lower in 2012 than in 2005 and shows a changing fuel mix: coal and petroleum (red and brown) generated one-third of RGGI states’ power in 2005, but only 10 percent in 2012. Natural gas (orange) rose from one-quarter to nearly half.
RGGI covers emissions from in-state power plants that are at least 25 megawatts. Electricity emissions are only 22 percent of CO2 emissions in the nine states, compared with the national average of nearly 40 percent. If new EPA rules drive other states to join RGGI, its impact will grow.
A look at the carbon dimensions of two climate change disasters in the making: the Keystone XL Pipeline and new coal export terminals in the Northwest. View graphic »
Modern-day coal mining is highly mechanized and it employs relatively few workers, many of them non-union. In the Powder River Basin—home to the coal planned for export to Asia via the Northwest—coal miners are overwhelmingly non-unionized, and even less so in recent years. View graphic »
Modern-day coal mining is highly mechanized and it employs relatively few workers, many of them non-union. In the Powder River Basin—home to the coal planned for export to Asia via the Northwest—coal miners are overwhelmingly non-unionized. View graphic »
Modern-day coal mining is highly mechanized and it employs relatively few workers, many of them non-union. Economists at the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy and Research Institute have shown it’s hard to make a worse jobs investment than coal. Sightline Institute converted the data to a viewer-friendly graph. View graphic »
In North American terms, Cascadia is home to an unusually high concentration of people of Native descent. In fact, Northwest jurisdictions are home to more than three quarters of a million people of Native descent with nearly 200,000 in British Columbia and Washington each. As a share of the population, no state has more Native Americans than Alaska where nearly 20 percent of residents self-identify as all or part Native. Montana ranks 5th nationally while Washington, Oregon, and Idaho occupy the 9th, 10th, and 12th spots, respectively. British Columbia’s population has a very similar profile to its US neighbors. View graphic »
Washington State Department of Transportation projections continue to outstrip actual traffic trends year after year. There are many reasons for this trend: high gas prices, economic uncertainties, demographic shifts, and (perhaps) an increase in people’s preferences for car-lite lifestyles. Regardless of the reasons, though, it may be time for transportation planners to begin adjusting their expectations. View graphic »