There have been a number of news stories about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the last few weeks. First, nearly all of the 211 power plants subject to the requirements of RGGI’s first compliance period met their compliance obligations for 2009-2011. Only five facilities failed to hold enough allowances in their compliance accounts to cover their emissions from this period — four plants from New York, and one from Connecticut. The report also found that aggregate emissions from these plants were, as expected, far below the allowance cap set for the first 3 years of RGGI — averaging 126 million short tons, a 23% reduction compared to 2006-2008 emissions, and 33% below the allowance cap of 188 million short tons. Review of the cap and other regulations for the second compliance period is still ongoing. However, according to the RGGI, Inc. website, the states are expected to issue a comprehensive set of recommended changes for consideration this summer.
The 16th auction of RGGI allowances (the second of this compliance period), held last Wednesday sold 57% of the available allowances to 24 bidders at the floor price of $1.93 per ton. Participation in this auction was up slightly from the last auction in March (which only had 20 bidders), and the two bidders who were not affiliated with regulated power plants took home 5% of the allowances, up from the unaffiliated entities’ purchase of 1% in the last auction.
Other RGGI news concerns the participation of its members. After failing to gain enough votes to override the gubernatorial veto of itsearlier bill seeking to withdraw from RGGI, the New Hampshire legislature approved a compromise bill this week that would change the terms of the state’s participation in RGGI and create a conditional "out," once two other New England states (or one accounting for 10% of the program’s allowances, meaning Massachusetts) also terminate their participation in the program. Another significant detail of the bill is a prohibition on the retirement of unsold allowances — entirely contrary to the decision of seven of the other RGGI states to retire the excess, unsold allowances from the first 14 auctions.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey legislature recently passed a bill that would bring that state, which dropped out of RGGI in January, back into the program. Governor Christie is expected to veto that bill, but ClimateWire reports that legislators are hoping to be able to override the veto sometime before 2014, which would return the state to the program in time for the third compliance period. New Jersey’s non-participation is also being challenged in the courts. The National Resources Defense Council and Environment New Jersey also filed a lawsuit last week, seeking declaratory judgment that the state violated the notice and comment requirements of its Administrative Procedure Act when Governor Christie’s administration decided to drop out of the program last year.