New York doesn't get the credit that California does for leading states on global warming, but it was the first to start work on a regional project to limit greenhouse gas pollution -- and now, it's proposed rules that 10 states could follow to implement the plan.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer, following on a landmark project begun by his predecessor George Pataki, drafted rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions through a cap-and-trade system that lets coal-fired power plants buy and sell credits. Companies will first have to buy pollution credits at auction, rather than be given credits based on the amount they current pollute, as is the case with some similar proposals. The money will be invested into renewable energy projects and other environmental initiatives.
Each state will set its own rule, but New York's -- as the first and foundational rule -- sets the standard.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was the first proposal to come from the states. Its goal -- a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants below 2009 levels by 2020 (16% below a "business-as-usual" emissions scenario) -- is modest now in comparison to steeper economy-wide goals set by California and Western states, and those proposed by Congress, every Democratic presidential candidate and a single Republican candidate, John McCain.
The Northeast initiative, led by New York, laid the groundwork for other initiatives, and was always seen as an important first step in a process that had to include many other strategies not only in the Northeast, but across the United States and World. It still is.
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