NEW YORK — Officials in nine Northeastern states have reached a preliminary agreement to cap and then cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 10% by 2020, a Delaware official said Wednesday.
If the agreement is made final, it would be the first of its kind in the United States. The Bush administration has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, a greenhouse gas reduction plan that has been adopted by about 150 other countries.
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont came together in 2003 to form a coalition, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, to explore a market-driven cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide emissions in the absence of mandatory emissions reductions at the national level.
Phil Cherry, policy director at Delaware's Department of Natural Resources, said the proposal, as it is currently written, caps emissions of carbon dioxide at 150 million tons a year starting in 2009. Under the proposed guidelines, emission reductions would be required starting in 2015, which would increase to a 10% cut in 2020.
"The proposal is a draft and some of the details have yet to be worked out," Cherry said. He said that the document would be sent to power producers who would have a chance to comment on it at a meeting on Sept. 21.
Once a final agreement is reached, legislatures or regulators in the nine states will have to approve it.
Environmentalists praised the proposed plan.
"It's all good as far as we're concerned, because it moves the United States further toward doing something about the problem," said Kert Davies, research director at Greenpeace in Washington. "That eventually allows us back into the global solving of this problem, whether that will be Kyoto or something else."
Scientists think that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases cause global warming About 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions come from fossil fuel power plants.