The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative - Helping to Clean the Air

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
By: Lisa M. Genier

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/images/climate_change_small.jpgThere are so many things I love about spending time in the Adirondacks…breathing the Park’s clean air, smelling the forests, seeing a glimpse of a bear or deer, and visiting the Park’s unique communities. Just being in the Adirondacks, even for a short time, rejuvenates my body and soul.

Last week, the Adirondack Council, took another step to make sure that we all can continue to have these experiences in the Park by participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s (RGGI) online auction. The Council purchased 1,000 carbon-dioxide (CO2) pollution allowances at this auction.

You might be asking yourself what does this mean and how does this help the Park?

Each RGGI allowance represents the permission to emit one ton of carbon dioxide into the air. So, ultimately the Council removed 1,000 tons of CO2 pollution from the environment…helping to fight climate change and protecting our clean air, wilderness, wildlife, and communities.

The Adirondack Council is the only environmental organization that has been participating in the RGGI auctions since the first one in 2008. When the Council purchases these allowances, not only does it reduce CO2 emissions and improve air quality, but also helps drive up the cost of the allowances by lowering the supply. This most recent purchase reduces the 2015 regional greenhouse gas limit by another 1,000 tons of CO2 pollution.

The Council intends to “retire” these allowances, as we have with thousands of others, with some help from our members and other friends of the Adirondack Park.

You can help. See our Cool Park/Healthy Planet program for more information. The money we receive partially offsets the cost of our climate change program, which includes buying allowances for retirement.

So what exactly is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and how does it work?

In 2003, New York invited other states from across the northeast to form the RGGI, the nation’s first government-mandated carbon emissions reduction program. It covers nine participating Northeast states (Maine to Maryland, excluding NJ).

The RGGI created a trading system for carbon dioxide emissions, like the system currently in place for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, to reduce CO2 emissions throughout the region.

Each participating state is given a limited number of CO2 allowances to use, and they are distributed to through quarterly, regional CO2 allowance auctions. Power plants in the RGGI area must purchase one allowance for every ton of CO2 it emits from its smokestack each year.

Every year, the RGGI reduces the number of allowances that are auctioned, lowering the supply and driving up the cost. The higher cost of the allowances encourages conservation and spurs the invention of new pollution control methods. The RGGI’s 2015 cap is already 2.5 percent lower than 2014. By 2020, RGGI auction will have achieved a 50-percent cut in carbon dioxide from the Northeast’s power plants.

The Council’s participation in the RGGI auctions and our carbon retirement program are just part of our coordinated approach to curbing climate change. The Council works to encourage energy conservation, development of clean and renewable energy alternatives and conservation of forests to help remove excess CO2 from the air. Climate change is expected to cause considerable damage to the Adirondack Park’s forests, rivers, biological diversity, and winter sports economies.

We need to act now to make sure that we and future generations can enjoy the Adirondack’s clean air and rejuvenating qualities. Please help us protect the Adirondack Park from climate change.

Click HERE to get a Carbon Reduction Certificate and permanently retire 3 tons of carbon dioxide from the RGGI program.

Or click HERE to get a Carbon-Zero Certificate that will entirely negate a year’s worth of carbon emissions for anyone in the United States.

etire 3 tons of carbon dioxide from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program. - See more at:

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Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/lisa-genier.jpgLisa M. Genier joined the Council in 1992 working as its Legislative Associate in the Albany office. During her tenure, she played a role in the creation of the Environmental Protection Fund, which has been used to fund land purchases and environmental programs in the Adirondack Park and around the state. She was also a member of the negotiating teams that worked on re-licensing agreements for several hydroelectric facilities in the Park, which preserved thousands of acres of land, expanded recreational opportunities, and protected other natural resources. Lisa now works part-time as Program Analyst writing action alerts, interacting with members, managing the Council’s website, and serving in a consultative role on legislative and other issues.

Lisa is a member of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Accessibility Advisory Committee that works to make the Forest Preserve and other DEC facilities around the state more accessible for people with disabilities while protecting the natural resources. 

Lisa grew up in Mineville (Town of Moriah) in the Adirondacks. She attended the State University of New York at Oneonta and graduated in 1989 summa cum laude with degrees in Political Science and Business Economics. Lisa currently lives in Schenectady with her partner, Val and their three cats and dog.

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