In & About the Park

Adirondack Council Buys 2,000 More Carbon Allowances from Regional Greenhouse Gas Auction

For more information:
John F. Sheehan
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518-441-1340 (cell) 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 12, 2017 

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council today announced it had won its bid for an additional 2,000 carbon allowances from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction, which will prevent the release of 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the Northeast.

“We will be retiring these allowances so that no power plant can use them to emit greenhouse gas,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “We will be seeking partners to permanently remove these allowances from the market.”

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the nation’s first government-mandated carbon dioxide reduction program.  Nine Northeast states have banded together to require power plants to purchase one carbon dioxide allowance for every ton of CO2 they emit.  Each year, the supply offered for sale is reduced until the region’s carbon dioxide levels drop by 50 percent by 2030.

By purchasing allowances and preventing their sale to power plants, the Adirondack Council is accelerating the regional carbon clean-up by further reducing the number of allowances available for use.  The Adirondack Council will instead retire those allowances, with the assistance of donors.

“We offer a Carbon Reduction Certificate that allows donors to retire a ton of carbon from the market, while also supporting the development of a low-carbon economy in the Adirondack Park,” said Janeway.  “For a $25 donation, we will retire a ton of carbon from the RGGI market in your name and send you a certificate commemorating the importance of the gift to the future of the Adirondack Park.”

Janeway said the proceeds from the Carbon Reduction Certificates would be used to purchase additional carbon dioxide allowances.  The Council will also use the proceeds to support climate-friendly farming and business practices through the Cool Farms/Healthy Park Program micro-grants.

So far, the Adirondack Council has purchased 17,000 carbon dioxide allowances from RGGI and has retired more than 13,500 allowances through Carbon Reduction Certificates.

The money collected by RGGI from allowance sales at the quarterly auctions is directed into each member state’s energy conservation, pollution prevention and green jobs programs.  Overall, RGGI’s June 2017 auction raised $36.93 million for those programs. 

The Adirondack Council’s winning bid also goes into that fund.

“So we use the money we receive from donors to reduce pollution and fund carbon-reducing initiatives inside the Adirondack Park,” Janeway explained.  “And the money we bid for allowances then goes into a state program that helps support clean energy and energy conservation.  It is a virtuous cycle that keeps reinvesting itself into creating a cleaner environment.”

For that reason, Janeway said he wished the Adirondack Council had been required to pay more for the carbon dioxide allowances it purchased.

Janeway said that uncertainty in the regional greenhouse gas market – perhaps due to the President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord – held prices down during this auction.  Carbon dioxide allowances were sold to bidders for $2.53, the lowest price in five years. The allowance cost reached over $8.00 piece a few years ago, providing a greater incentive for plants to reduce their emissions just as the program is designed to work.

While the Paris Accord and RGGI are not directly related, the success of the Paris Accord had built enthusiasm for expanding the RGGI concept to a national scale.  Its allowance-trading program is popular with business, because it provides incentives to those who clean up their emissions more quickly than the law requires, while providing flexibility to individual states in terms of how they achieve the required emissions cuts. 

Allowance trading was first used on the federal level in the highly successful national acid rain program that started in 1995. It met its targets two years early and under budget, with 100-percent compliance from power plants.

RGGI officials note that the program has stimulated economic development in the nine participating states (Maryland to Maine, except NJ) by providing such large sums of money for innovation in clean energy and energy conservation. 

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park.  The Council envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, and vibrant, local communities.

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action.  Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

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