As a key step forward to protect public health and address climate change, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management today commended President Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for setting a national goal for carbon emissions. The new proposed target calls for carbon emissions from power plants to be reduced by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
"Thank you to the President and the EPA for taking this step forward to reduce pollution from power plants, which nationally is a large source of carbon emissions," Governor Chafee said. "Through this leadership initiative, our Government has committed to reducing the risks associated with climate change, and has worked to ensure clean and reliable energy."
In welcoming the goal, Governor Chafee recounted his long-standing support for regulation of carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act from when he was a U.S. Senator. "We knew then we had to reduce these emissions from power plants to slow down climate change. We have since proven, here in the Northeast, that significant reductions can be achieved in cost-effective ways, without disrupting our energy supply."
The Governor noted that the goal is consistent with the objectives of our state's environmental and energy programs, as well as recent recommendations by the Executive Climate Change Council, which was created by the Governor's Executive Order in February 2014.
"Rhode Island recognizes the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from the generation of electric power," DEM Director Janet Coit said. "Since 2008 our state has been part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and has demonstrated that achieving carbon emission reductions through cost-effective means is feasible."
Coit added: "We are encouraged to see that EPA's draft regulations recognize these regional programs that will allow us to continue achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions throughout the region. Rhode Island is a leader in supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and is committed to continuing these efforts as part of the state's larger climate change strategy."
In addition, the Office of Energy Resources (OER) has identified reduction of power plant emissions as one of its top priorities as it develops plans for the state's energy future. "This rule is consistent with our experience, that we can and have to diversify our energy supply and increase the proportion of clean and renewable energy, as well as optimize energy efficiency, for both environmental and economic reasons," Marion Gold, Commissioner of OER, said.
Throughout his public service, as a Mayor, Senator and now Governor, Governor Chafee has been committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing issues of climate change. He has been a strong supporter of the regional emission reduction goals adopted by the Northeast governors in 2001, as well as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in which Rhode Island has partnered with eight other states since 2008 to successfully reduce emissions from power plants.