WASHINGTON Feb 5 Greenhouse gas emissions fell
6 percent in 2013 in the nine northeast U.S. states that
participate in a trading scheme to cut carbon dioxide from power
plants, helped by mild temperatures and some use of cleaner
Carbon emissions in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
region were down for a third straight year, to 86 million short
tons from 92 million tons. Electricity use declined in four of
the nine member states, according to the program's emission
allowances tracking system.
Power plants covered by RGGI had until Jan. 31 to report
their emissions from 2013.
The nine states - Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont
- last month approved a change to the program from 2014 that
would cap emissions at 91 million tons, a 45 percent reduction
from the original cap, to encourage more trading.
The five-year-old cap-and-trade market had been awash in
excess carbon permits due to abundant supplies of low-emissions
natural gas, improved energy efficiency and a
slower-than-expected economic recovery.
As the federal Environmental Protection Agency prepares to
propose carbon dioxide regulations in June, targeting the
country's fleet of existing power plants, states involved in the
RGGI are expected to lobby the EPA to acknowledge the progress
already made in cutting pollution.
They also hope to provide a template for other states which
need to prepare strategies to comply with future federal rules
on carbon emissions.
States in the RGGI program turned to lower emitting
electricity sources in 2013, according to data from the Energy
Information Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of
Energy. Nuclear generation rose 7 percent in 2013 from 2012,
while hydroelectric and other renewable energy also rose.
The use of natural gas for electricity declined 16 percent
from 2012, however, while coal use, which has dropped in recent
years, rose by 5 percent.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, editing by Ros Krasny and Tom