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Gov. Eliot Spitzer, D-N.Y., has unveiled draft regulations to carry out a regional program that will cut greenhouse gases emitted by New York power plants.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is an agreement by 10 northeastern states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under RGGI, participating states will each issue their own regulations and, when fully implemented, RGGI will achieve a 16% reduction in emissions from projected emissions.

Under the draft regulations, a power plant would have to buy enough carbon credits or allowances (one allowance per ton of emissions) to cover its emissions in a flexible, market-based system that are similar to those used to combat acid rain.

Companies will have to buy allowances through an auction for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit. Proceeds from the auction would go toward energy-efficiency programs and renewable energy projects. The program would also provide opportunities for power companies to offset their emissions through other green investments.

Other states participating in RGGI include: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. Each state is given allowances to approximately match current emissions and has discretion to allocate up to 75% of their allowances. Maine and Massachusetts recently published their proposed regulations, which call for an auction of 100% of allowances.

A 60-day public comment period will end on Dec. 24. Public hearings will be held on Dec. 10 in Albany, Dec. 11 in Ray Brook, Dec. 12 in New York City and Dec. 13 in Avon.
The draft regulations are available at: dec.ny.gov.

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