A new report is touting the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) for helping cut carbon dioxide emissions in the Northeast. The news is somewhat hazy for Rhode Island, however, and overall the data show that the cap-and-trade program is still a work in progress.
Environment Northeast (ENE), a nonprofit that tracks the 10-state, carbon-cutting RGGI program, said emissions from power plants are down 11 percent from last year, and are well below a cap set in 2009. The reason, ENE stated, is power plants are burning more natural gas and less high carbon-packed fuels such as coal and oil. Renewable energy, mild weather and improvements in energy efficiency also are being credited for helping reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
All good things for cutting carbon pollution, but much of the progress appears to derive from a single factor: the price of natural gas. Since 2005, natural gas prices have dropped significantly below coal and oil. As of Dec. 31, gas was about four times cheaper than oil.