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November 25, 2012

Enviros assail state carbon caps

BOSTON — Massachusetts environmental advocates are ridiculing efforts being made to adjust the carbon dioxide emission cap set under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, calling the scenarios being studied by participating states a “farce” and suggesting the program has not lived up to its mission.

“As an emissions reduction program it is weak. It is mild. We need to speak the truth,” said Seth Kaplan, vice president for policy and climate advocacy at the Conservation Law Foundation. At one point during a briefing given by the regional compact’s consultant last week, Kaplan turned to the board as he was taking his seat and mouthed the word “farce” to the officials from various states visiting Boston for the stakeholder meeting.

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources hosted the meeting on behalf of the nine states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, to review progress being made toward revisions to the carbon cap on emissions for electricity generators in the New England and mid-Atlantic regions.

State officials are seeking to revise the emissions limits under the regional cap-and-trade program. Some program stakeholders say the cap for the first three years of the program was set too high, leading to an oversupply of allowances and driving down the cost and demand for those credits, reducing the incentive for power suppliers to curb emissions.

Chris McCracken, a consultant with ICF Consultants, presented projections through 2020 of emissions reductions and the price impact on carbon allowances that would result from two proposed new caps of 106 million tons of carbon dioxide and 97 million tons per year. It was the seventh such stakeholder meeting as the RGGI states look to adjust the cap for 2014.

Carbon emissions in 2012 are projected to total 91 million tons, down 17 percent from previous projections and 12 million tons from 2011 due in part to natural gas prices and an unseasonably warm winter, according to officials. The cap in 2012 was set at 165 million tons.

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