March 26, 2021

Senator Hassan, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support and Expand Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) led a number of her colleagues in reintroducing bipartisan legislation to support and expand programs such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a collaborative effort across states including New Hampshire that uses market-based tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.

 

“Climate change threatens our economy, our health, and our natural resources. Initiatives like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative leverage market-based solutions to reduce emissions, lower energy use and bills, and create jobs,” said Senator Hassan, who helped lead the drive to have New Hampshire join RGGI when she served in the New Hampshire State Senate. “Our bipartisan legislation would support current RGGI programs and help expand this type of regional greenhouse gas initiative to other states and local governments. I look forward to working with my colleagues to build support for this important, bipartisan legislation that will help our country combat climate change and build up our clean energy economy.”

 

Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia are all part of the existing RGGI program. The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), all of whom represent states currently participating in RGGI, as well as Bob Casey (D-PA), whose state has taken steps recently to join the initiative.  

 

“There is no doubt that climate change poses a significant threat to our economy and our natural resources, including Maine’s forestry, fishing, agricultural, tourism, and recreation industries,” said Senator Collins. “This significant challenge requires cooperation at all levels of government and across geographical boundaries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our bipartisan bill would add to the work already being done through the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative by creating an office within the EPA to strengthen and support new regional greenhouse gas reduction programs.”

 

“Climate change is a global challenge, but that doesn’t mean that this crisis can be confronted through a one-size-fits all mindset – so it’s important to be agile and take a ‘think global, act local’ approach,” said Senator King. “The Northeast’s power needs are different than Southwest’s, so it only makes sense that we would use varied, customized approaches to achieve the same goal of carbon reductions. That’s where regional-specific programs come in: by encouraging collaboration between neighboring states that share energy opportunities and challenges, we can advance changes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support local needs. I’m proud to stand alongside my Northeast colleagues to build on the good work of these regional-specific programs, and will continue fighting for policies that secure our energy future and address the crisis of climate change.

 

“To reduce emissions and combat the climate crisis, we need every tool in the toolbox.  In Vermont, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has proven that climate solutions are not just about saving the planet and protecting our communities – they are a tremendous economic opportunity as well,” said Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee said. “This bill would help export our success and encourage more states and regions to adopt this promising model for carbon reduction.”

 

“This bipartisan initiative is the bold federal action we need to combat greenhouse emissions that threaten our planet’s survival. Connecticut has been an early leader in this fight as a founder of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, laying the groundwork for this successful model to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The federal government must urgently follow suit to put a stop to the climate crisis for the sake of future generations,” said Senator Blumenthal.

 

“In Connecticut, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has already proven to be an innovative and effective way to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This bipartisan legislation would expand existing programs like RGGI, help new states and regions replicate its success, and take major steps toward reducing emissions. Addressing the global threat of climate change requires bold, urgent action, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to get this done,” said Senator Murphy.

 

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling the climate crisis is the challenge of our time. It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment that requires us all to come together to make it happen,” said Senator Carper, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “Programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are proof that when states work together, they can reduce emissions, improve public health, and foster economic growth. We’ve seen it firsthand in Delaware. This bill would scale the success of that program across the country.”

 

“Since 2009, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has helped provide Delaware families and businesses with energy that’s clean, affordable, and reliable, thanks to more than $120 million in investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, weatherization activities, and direct bill assistance for low-income households,” said Senator Coons. “I’m proud to join Senator Hassan and my colleagues in supporting and expanding this important state-led, market-based initiative for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

 

“Virginia has led the region in reducing emissions, including becoming the first Southern state to join RGGI,” said Senator Kaine. “This bipartisan bill will support states like Virginia that are taking proactive steps to become carbon-neutral and will help other states join the effort to become cleaner tomorrow than we are today. The climate crisis requires collaboration from all levels of government and all sectors of the economy; this legislation will help bolster that collaboration.”

 

“The Commonwealth of Virginia sits on the front lines of the fight against climate change,” said Senator Warner. “This bipartisan legislation would help address the growing climate threat by providing federal support and coordination for regional greenhouse gas reduction programs that have proved to be effective in reducing emissions and protecting the environment. I am proud that Virginia recently joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state effort which will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Commonwealth and provide significant funding for energy efficiency programs, coastal resiliency projects, and community flood prevention efforts in Virginia.”

 

“In New Hampshire and throughout the northeast, we are already seeing alarming effects from climate change, which is why we need to take action before it’s too late. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is an important tool we have been using for more than a decade to make progress to that end,” said Senator Shaheen. “By establishing an Office of Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs within the Environmental Protection Agency, this legislation will provide technical assistance and guidance for states in other regions to replicate the success of RGGI and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I’ll keep working across the aisle to pursue policies that tackle the threats created by climate change head on.”

 

“In Pennsylvania, and across the country, we are seeing the harmful effects of climate change on the economy, agriculture and the health of our communities,” said Senator Casey. “The Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act would help address the climate crisis by providing support and coordination for regional efforts to reduce air pollution. I support efforts in Pennsylvania to bring the Commonwealth into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and also believe it is critical that we advance federal climate change legislation that responds to the severity of the crisis.”

 

The bipartisan Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act would establish, within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an Office of Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs. This office would provide analysis and technical assistance to help establish new regional greenhouse gas reduction programs, expand existing programs such as RGGI and the Western Climate Initiative, and support states that are already members of such programs. The bill would also provide grants for state and local governments to take preliminary steps toward developing or participating in a regional greenhouse gas reduction program.

 

To read the one-pager on the bipartisan Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, click here.

 

Throughout her time in public service, Senator Hassan has worked to build a stronger, more affordable clean energy future. As state senator, Senator Hassan sponsored legislation to allow New Hampshire to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and she continued building on those efforts as Governor. Then-Governor Hassan also successfully pushed to raise the net metering cap to help New Hampshire’s clean energy industry. Last Congress, Senator Hassan joined in introducing the Clean Economy Act, which directs the Environmental Protection Agency to use existing authorities to put the country on a pathway to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050. Senator Hassan has also led bipartisan legislation to expand access to innovative clean energy storage technology and to help lower energy costs for families and reduce carbon emissions by reinstating and strengthening a tax credit for energy efficient home construction and upgrades.

 

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