Report claims RGGI participation creates a healthier Delaware
Delaware’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has had a positive effect on public health according to a recent report.
Delaware and eight other states launched RGGI in 2009, seeking
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by selling allowances and investing the proceeds in clean energy development.
Lindsey Mendelson with the advocacy group Environment America said an analysis by Abt Associates shows RGGI states have already reaped health benefits from their efforts. The analysis estimates air pollution reduction in the First State since 2009 has saved 20 lives, while preventing 300 asthma attacks and 1,400 missed work days.
And Delaware hasn’t just seen health benefits from RGGI.
“As a result we’ve reduced, in our region, over 45 percent of our emissions since the program was accepted in 2005,” Valerie Gray with Delaware’s Division of Air Quality said. “And we’ve even seen our economy grow as we were reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our power sector.”
Gray said the regional economy also grew by 8 percent.
According to RGGI.org, proceeds Delaware receives through RGGI are used towards renewable energy projects and energy efficiency. Money has been used for programs like the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility which offers clean energy resources to Delawareans. Additionally, RGGI funds help low-income Delawareans pay their heating bills.
But Mendelson said efforts like RGGI need to grow even more. Delaware could be considered “ground zero” for devastating impacts, she said, including susceptibility to sea level rise and...
“These impacts are only going to get worse over time and that’s why it’s so important we do as much as we can to ramp down our emissions and work towards a cleaner future,” Mendelson said.
Delaware’s energy goal, independent of RGGI, is to reduce all emissions by 30 percent between 2008 and 2030, whereas RGGI only focuses on the power sector. State officials say they are making progress toward that goal but aren’t sure the health benefits outlined in the report can be completely attributed to RGGI, as the state itself has taken many steps to reduce all types of emissions.
“When you’re looking at Governor Markell’s target, you’re looking at all emissions from all sources from Delaware. So it would be from cars and trucks, it would be from industry, it’s from more than just the power sector burning fossil fuels to create electricity,” Gray said. “It’s everything that we do within the state. So we develop an inventory of all our source of emissions and we look at that, and the RGGI program plays a key role in helping us to achieve that 30 by 30 target.”
It’s a goal that Mendelson thinks could be higher. She said the First State should double its annual emissions reduction goal from 2.5 percent to 5 percent each year through 2030. Environment America, she said, is pushing for Delaware and other states to reduce emissions to zero percent by 2050.