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The Case for an Economy-Wide Cap-and-Invest Initiative: Why the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Should Take the Lead

Big Thinking Leads to Big Results. That philosophy has driven the creation of our largest infrastructure undertakings—from a national network of interstate highways for transporting people, goods, and services to the creation of an electric grid that can provide large-scale, reliable delivery of electricity. One of those “big thinking” ideas in the electricity sector has been the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first cap-and-trade system for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. RGGI states agree to cap electric sector emissions and require emitters to purchase allowances equal to the tons of GHGs emitted. RGGI then sells the allowances and redistributes the auction proceeds to its member states to reinvest; thus the expression “cap-and-invest”. This is a proven concept that has reduced GHG pollution in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states while generating substantial revenues. A more comprehensive mechanism, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), has taken the idea and expanded it by capping GHG emissions from all forms of energy use: electricity, heating fuel, and transportation fuels.

We call it economy-wide cap-and-invest.

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  • Mary Sprayregen


  • Policy & Regulatory Support
  • Climate Change