DOVER, DE – As the Trump administration prepares to rewrite the Clean Power Plan, the single largest step the U.S. has taken to limit climate change, Environment America Research & Policy Center released a new report showing that Governor Carney could act to accelerate progress in cutting pollution. The report, Doubling Down on Climate Progress, concludes that doubling the strength of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would cut dangerous global warming pollution from power plants in half by 2030 and generate $850 million to invest in clean energy – enough to weatherize 330,000 homes, or approximately 95 percent of all homes in Delaware.
“Right now, Governor Carney is our best hope for action to protect the climate,” said Lindsey Mendelson, Environment America Fellow. “He should act quickly. We can’t count on the federal government, so it is up to Delaware to lead the region and nation towards a clean energy future. We can all benefit from less pollution and more clean energy.”
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is the best regional clean air and climate protection program in the country. This program limits dangerous pollution from power plants in Delaware and across the region – helping to slow the warming of our planet. It also fuels investment in clean energy by making polluters pay to pollute.
“Efforts to reduce carbon pollution and fight climate change are particularly important to Delaware, which has the lowest mean elevation of any state in the nation, making it particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels resulting from a warming global climate,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “Earlier this week, our work toward this front suffered a huge blow when the President released his executive order that abandons key U.S. climate initiatives, including the historic Clean Power Plan. That move proved that this administration is not serious about protecting jobs and our environment. So we look to our states to keep up the fight, and RGGI has proven to be successful.”
The report, co-authored by Frontier Group, illustrates the opportunity before the governor. It finds that doubling the strength of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (compared to simply keeping the program on its current trajectory) would:
Avoid up to an additional 100 million tons of pollution over a decade, the equivalent of making more than 1 million homes run entirely on solar power.
- Help Delaware invest almost $200 million more in clean energy.*
“It’s easy for Delawareans to see the ravaging impact of climate change,” said Rep. Trey Paradee, D-Dover West. “Our coastlines are literally shrinking. Storm surges have flooded our towns, causing immense damage and flood insurance rates to skyrocket. On top of that, local farmers are grappling with unpredictable weather that adversely impacts crop yields. Kent County in particular will suffer as sea level rise takes over. Climate change is happening and we have to find ways to fight against it. I am proud that Delaware is one of the nine states to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative so we can work towards cleaner air, lower energy bills and sustainable, economic growth.”
The report also reviews the impressive benefits the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has achieved since it was created in 2005. Key findings include:
- It has helped to cut global warming pollution from power plants by 51 percent in Delaware. By cutting associated co-pollutants it has contributed to cleaner air, helping to avoid 300 asthma attacks and preventing 20 deaths in the last 6 years.
- It has already driven a $99 million investment in clean energy, energy efficiency and consumer benefit programs in Delaware. Across the whole region, those programs have locked in more than $4.6 billion in long term savings on our energy bills. That’s an incredible $3.5 in savings for every dollar spent on clean energy.
“RGGI funding makes the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility’s broad range of Energize Delaware programs possible,” said Tony DePrima, Executive Director of the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility. “Projects completed in 2016 will create more than $930,000 in energy savings annually, making RGGI a proven economic and environmental win for Delaware.”
In February, more than 500 organizations, businesses, health professionals, lawmakers and community leaders from the Northeast called on Governor Carney and other regional governors to double the strength of the program and close several loopholes.
“As good as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is, we can make it better,” said Mendelson. “We need Governor Carney and governors across the region to accelerate our progress in the fight against global warming, and magnify the important benefits that come from reducing pollution.”
* This report was updated in May 2017 to strengthen its conclusions, as described in footnote 62 on page 24.
Environment America Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization. We are dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information, visit www.environmentAmericacenter.org.