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New state regulations regulations have been adopted to strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as "RGGI," the nation's first regional program to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector. The regulations, which have been adopted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, advance New York's portion of the 30 percent regional cap reduction from 2021 to 2030, ensuring that regional emissions are 65 percent below the starting cap level by 2030, and will align New York's cap with the other participating RGGI states. These emissions reductions support Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's requirements under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050, and fulfill the Governor's January 2017 State of the State challenge to the RGGI states to further strengthen the program, which yields environmental, health, and economic benefits.

"The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative not only set the standard for climate leadership during the last decade, but also set the stage for New York's landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act," Cuomo said. "Reducing the RGGI cap will lower greenhouse gas emissions even further, all while providing valuable resources to expand our clean energy economy. New York has been at the forefront of the fight against climate change and we will continue help push the nation forward towards a cleaner future."

With this update, the regional cap in 2030 will be 65 percent below the 2009 starting level. In addition, New York is going beyond many of its RGGI partner states by adding smaller peaking units to the program, recognizing that most of these smaller sources are located in proximity to New York's Environmental Justice communities, communities of color and low-income communities that disproportionately bear an undue, unjust and historic burden of air pollution. Revisions to NYSERDA's regulations will also ensure that the investment of proceeds from allowance auctions provide equitable benefits to disadvantaged communities, in accordance with the CLCPA.

Another key change to the RGGI program is the creation of the Emissions Containment Reserve (ECR.) This is a new feature designed to ensure additional carbon dioxide emissions reductions by auctioning fewer allowances in the event the cost of such reductions is less than anticipated. The regulations also simplify the program and ensure that reductions from power plants continue by removing all offset categories except for emissions from livestock operations.

DEC's proposed RGGI regulation (Part 242) was published in the State Register on April 29, and the public comment period closed on June 29, 2020; NYSERDA's proposed regulations were published in the State Register on May 13, 2020, and the public comment period closed on July 13. DEC's final regulation will be published in the State Register on Dec. 16 and will be effective on Dec. 31, 2020. DEC's final regulations and supporting materials are currently available here. NYSERDA's regulations were approved at a special Board meeting on Dec. 1, and will be published in the State Register on December 30.

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