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Thanks a Ton...Cool Park, Healthy Planet

The impacts of climate change are worldwide. For many of us, identify­ing ways that we can make a meaningful difference can be overwhelming. Individually, each of us can do our part to reduce the emissions we contribute to the problem. The Adirondack Council is committed to advocating for power plant emissions reductions on a regional level, supporting national legislation that will reduce carbon emissions from a variety of sources, promoting clean energy and energy conservation, and advancing conservation policies that will help mitigate the impacts of climate change on the Adirondacks.

Just as our cumulative individual actions make a difference, by focusing on our unique part of the world the Adirondack Council’s “Cool Park. Healthy Planet.” Program will contribute to world-wide efforts to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change in our region.

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In compliance with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the first carbon dioxide “allowance” auction in the United States was established in 2011. All commer­cial power plants throughout the ten participating Northeastern states must acquire one RGGI allowance for each ton of carbon dioxide they release into the atmosphere. The Adirondack Council participated in this auction and has established our “Cool Park. Healthy Planet” Certificate Program to permanently retire carbon pollution allowances in a RGGI account.

Carbon allowances are government-issued permits to emit carbon from a power plant smokestack.  Nine Northeast states, from Maine to Maryland (excluding NJ) participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program.  Each year, the nine states offer for sale a specific number of allowances at auctions. That number represents the regional pollution limit, or cap. Power plants bid against each other to acquire them.  Each year, the number sold decreases by 2.5 percent, until a 50 percent regional reduction in emissions is reached in 2020.

Any allowances that are purchased, but not used, decrease the emissions cap further.  Every allowance retired by the Adirondack Council reduces the regional cap by an equal amount.

Anyone can register to participate in the auctions, but the minimum purchase is 1,000 tons.  The Adirondack Council accepts donations from its members and the public and bids against the power companies.  It has been participating in the auctions since they began in 2008, retiring roughly 10,000 tons so far.

The RGGI program has made it possible for the Northeast states to outpace carbon reductions in every other region of the United States. Under this new program, RGGI states have cut per-capita greenhouse gas pollution 20 percent faster than the rest of the country, even as the region’s economy grew faster than the rest of the country.  By 2020, carbon emissions in the nine participating states – Maine to Maryland, excluding NJ -- will be half of what they were in 2005.  That is major progress.

Better yet, RGGI carbon auctions generate money for energy conservation programs and renewable energy development.  The reinvestment of RGGI revenue will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12 million tons, the equivalent to removing 2 million cars from the road.

If you are interested in participating in the “Cool Park. Healthy Planet.” program, CLICK HERE! 


Born and raised in Troy, NY, John Sheehan is a graduate of Catholic Central High School and the State University at Albany (1985; BA). Before joining the Council's staff in 1990, John was the managing editor of the Malone Evening Telegram, just north of the Adirondack Park. Prior to that, he worked as journalist for the Troy Record, (Schenectady) Daily Gazette, Watertown Daily Times and Newsday.

For the past 20 years, John has been the voice of the Adirondack Council on radio and television, and on the pages of local, regional and national media. Sheehan has overseen the production of two films about the Council (The Adirondack Council, 1992; and, ACID RAIN: A Continuing National Tragedy, 1998), appeared in the independent film Inside the Blue Line (1993) and has produced a series of radio and television public service announcements with entertainers Bonnie Raitt (1994), Natalie Merchant (1997) and brothers/band mates Michael and Kevin Bacon (2009-10).

John is a regular guest lecturer at several New York colleges and universities, including Colgate University, Hobart & William Smith College, Hamilton College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Union College, Siena College, SUNY Albany, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Syracuse), and SUNY Potsdam. He has also addressed dozens of local organizations including local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and chambers of commerce, scientific societies and community forums.

In his spare time, John helps to train other not-for-profit organizations' staff in media relations, as well as local farmers in how to promote sustainable agriculture. He also volunteers for the Ujima Journey cultural education project in Albany; the Hamilton Hill Arts Council's annual "Juneteenth" celebration in Schenectady; the Albany Falcons Marching Band and Color Guard; and, the Westland Hills ASA softball league in Albany.

John and his wife Deborah live in Albany and are seasonal residents of the Adirondack Park. Their daughter Hannah attends Albany public schools.

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