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.
The Pacific Northwest stands at a crossroads of dirty energy exports and hungry Asian markets. We are the thin green line between the two, and our choices together in the coming years not only will determine the health and safety of our local communities, but also will help shape our planet’s future. (Video version available, too!) View graphic »
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 »
In Oregon and Washington, 10 refineries and port terminals are planning, building, or already operating oil-by-rail terminals. View graphic »
The 8 million metric tons of coal slated to come through Portland annually would make a pile 1/3 of a mile in diameter and three feet taller than the Wells Fargo Center. 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 »