© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
89.9 FM is currently running on reduced power. 89.9 HD1 and HD2 are off the air. While we work to fix the issue, we recommend downloading the WSHU app.

A greenhouse gas reduction program has improved air quality in Connecticut and New York

The industrial backdrop of a refinery and a coal-fired power plant.
Martin Meissner
The industrial backdrop of a refinery and a coal-fired power plant.

Connecticut and New York are among nine states that have benefited in health and finance from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, according to a report from Acadia Center.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Assessment (RGGI) is a cap-and-invest greenhouse gas reduction program. Twelve Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, including New York and Connecticut, have participated since 2009.

RGGI reduces carbon dioxide pollution from electricity plants in the region by placing a limit on emissions. Plant owners have to purchase carbon dioxide allowances from states at auction. States then use that money to invest in environmental programs.

Acadia Center’s director of Climate, Energy & Equity Analysis, Ben Butterworth, said RGGI has financially benefited the states that consistently follow it.

“Consistent RGGI states have achieved a 50% increase in GDP per capita since RGGI was launched in 2008,” Butterworth said. “This is 13% more growth than the rest of the country over the same time period.”

Despite some positive findings, the report also shows a disparity among the communities who benefit. Over a third of RGGI plants that have significant carbon dioxide emissions are located near high asthma communities.

“States could significantly improve quality of life in environmental justice communities by making targeted investments of revenue generated in RGGI auction to improve the quality of housing, lower energy burdens, improve air quality and reduce associated health risk,” Butterworth said.

Twelve Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states participate in the initiative, nine states are considered “consistent.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.