Tilton, NH – As the federal government attempts to roll back programs that limit air pollution, Toxics Action Center, Environment New Hampshire and other partner groups released a new report showing that Governor Sununu could increase the benefits of reducing power plant pollution. The report, Doubling Down on Climate Progress, concludes that increasing the emissions reduction goals from 2.5% to 5% doubles the strength of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would cut dangerous pollution from power plants in half by 2030 and double our investment in clean energy – enough to weatherize 380,000 homes, or well over half of the homes in the state.
“Right now, we’re counting on Governor Sununu to take action to protect our health and the climate,” said Dan Westervelt, Vermont and New Hampshire Community Organizer with Toxics Action Center. “Tomorrow, on April 20th, the public comment period of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the regional clean air and climate protection program, will be opened. We are urging Granite Staters to call on Governor Sununu to double the strength of the program so we can reap the benefits we receive from less pollution and more clean energy.”
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”) is the best regional clean air and climate protection program in the country. This program limits dangerous pollution from power plants in New Hampshire 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.
The report, co-authored by the 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 New Hampshire invest twice as much in clean energy – on the order of $84 million over ten years, or enough to weatherize 380,000 homes.
“Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline served as a wakeup call for us to fund and support RGGI,” said Pat Martin, an activist who worked on stopping Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline with the community New Hampshire Pipeline Awareness Network (NH PLAN). “To tackle the climate crisis, we need to quickly shift away from dirty fuels like coal and gas, and move to renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative can help us get there faster.”
The report also reviewed the impressive benefits the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has achieved for New Hampshire since it was created in 2005. Key findings include:
It has helped to cut global warming pollution from power plants 67%. That is the equivalent of retiring 1.6 coal-fired power plants. On average, power plant pollution in the region has been falling by almost 5 percent per year. In 2016, pollution went down by 4.8 percent.
It has helped to clean our air, saving 10 lives over its first six years in operation.
It has driven a $116 million investment in clean energy, energy efficiency and consumer benefit programs in New Hampshire. 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.
“The energy efficiency project that we did at the Winnisquam School District took advantage of approximately $31,000 in (RGGI-funded) rebates for lighting and variable frequency drive pumps” said former State Representative of Belknap 4, Ian Raymond. “Of the funding for the project, $31,770 came from RGGI. We replaced old pumps with newer energy efficient pumps with Variable Frequency Drives, and replaced approximately 2400 lighting units with energy efficient lights. All of the efficiency upgrades all together has saved the taxpayers $1.38 million so far and is projected to save over $5 million over the life of the project.”
In February, more than 500 organizations, businesses, health professionals, lawmakers and community leaders from the Northeast called on Governor Sununu 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 Madeline Page, of Environment New Hampshire. “We need Governor Sununu 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.”