Nine U.S. States Seek 30% More in CO2 Cuts as Trump Pushes Coal

Nine states in the U.S. Northeast plan to bolster their target for cutting carbon-dioxide emissions, even as President Trump seeks to revive a coal industry suffering from competition and efforts to stem greenhouse gases.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which auctions permits for utilities to buy electricity produced at plants that produce greenhouse gases, proposed to lower its cap on emissions by an additional 30 percent from 2020 to 2030, according to an emailed statement on Wednesday. The auctions have raised more than $2.7 billion to invest in cleaner energy since 2009, the group said.

States from California to Connecticut have stepped up efforts to halt a rise in global temperatures by encouraging reduced use of fossil fuels in power plants and vehicles. The Trump Administration has pushed back, vowing to extract the U.S. from the Paris climate accord and eliminate some regulations on coal companies.

“The success of the RGGI program and the proposals to make it even more effective stand in sharp contrast to the Trump Administration’s shortsighted and wholesale retreat on climate issues,” Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said in a separate statement.

According to the draft proposal, the group would set its emissions cap at 75.1 million tons in 2021, and trim that by 2.275 million tons each year. Under current policies, the limit will decline to 78.2 million tons in 2020 and then stay constant.

RGGI members plan to take public comments on the changes to the program at a hearing on Sept. 25 in Baltimore. 

The Natural Resources Defense Council hailed the proposed reductions, which it said would reduce the region’s overall contribution to carbon emissions by 65 percent.

“Nine governors – Republicans and Democrats alike – doubled-down on a clean energy future for their citizens,” said Rhea Suh, president of the New York-based environmental group. “RGGI’s bold plan will significantly cut power-plant pollution.”

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