R.I., Mass. join pact on low-carbon fuels

ELEVEN NORTHEAST STATES have pledged to create a program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels by early 2011.
Posted 12/31/09

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island, Massachusetts and nine other states agreed Wednesday to work toward reducing emissions from cars and trucks.

The memorandum of understanding does not commit the states to any specific program, but pledges to explore a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard that would mandate fuels emit fewer greenhouse gases.

“Developing alternatives to our continued reliance on petroleum-based fuels will foster economic growth and enable increases in fuel security and reliability,” the memorandum said. “And further, the development, commercialization and use of fuels that have low carbon intensity can support the growth of jobs, businesses, and services in a clean energy economy.”

Ten of the 11 states are already partners in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants through a regional cap-and-trade program. Pennsylvania is the additional signatory not in RGGI.

The RGGI program sets a limit on the amount of carbon that each state can release into the atmosphere and requires power plant operators to bid on permits to offset their emissions. The hope is that setting a price for carbon emissions will motivate plant operators to reduce total emissions.

Wednesday’s memorandum proposed that the states explore a similar program for establishing trading credits related to transportation fuels and possibly heating fuels as well. The memorandum calls for a proposed program framework to be completed by early 2011.

By that point, Rhode Island will have a new governor, as incumbent Republican Donald L. Carcieri is term-limited. Mass. Gov. Deval L. Patrick is up for re-election next November.

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