Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration has agreed to a plan to cut the Northeastern United States’ cap for carbon emissions by 30 percent through 2030.
The regional cap will be nearly a third lower than the one set for 2020 by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The RGGI, a multi-state co-op, requires coal-fired power plants in each state to purchase emissions allowances at auction, with proceeds funding state renewable and efficient energy programs.
Hogan said in a statement that the agreement is an example of a “common sense solution” that can “protect our environment, combat climate change, and improve our air quality.”
The other states that agreed to the regional emission cap cuts are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The initiative, launched in 2015, has called for 2.5 percent cap reductions each year through 2020, according to its website. The extension announced today sets an overall benchmark for cutting CO2 emissions for the next 10 years. Specific yearly goals will be announced later on.
As the White House has scaled back Obama-era plans to cut down on emissions — most notoriously by withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord — Hogan’s administration has defended its environmental record. Activists in June called for the governor to have Maryland join a coalition of states that pledged to uphold the terms of the international pact.
Hogan opted not to join, but a spokeswoman from his office noted to Baltimore Fishbowl that he’d set his own targets for Maryland’s planned emissions cuts. In 2016, he signed into law the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, which set a 40 percent reduction target for Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Under his leadership, the state has also joined regional pacts to fight climate change, including the RGGI.
Hogan has also enacted other environmentally protective laws, including a ban on fracking on Maryland lands and a program designed to boost use of electric cars across the state.
Environmentalist celebrated today’s announcement. Mark Kresowik, eastern region deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, said in a statement, “this is just a first step toward meeting the commitments to climate protection these states have made, and we look forward to working them to implement this proposal and ensuring greater support for communities overburdened by pollution and underserved by economic opportunities.”
The RGGI will hold a public hearing at the Maryland Public Service Commission’s offices in Baltimore on Sept. 25 to share more details about the new benchmarks for 2030.
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