Impact of MD Joining Greenhouse Gas Pact: RFF Scholars Karen Palmer and Dallas Burtraw collaborate on study
FOR RELEASE: February 1, 2007
WASHINGTON- If, as planned, Maryland joins a regional compact designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, it will have a modest positive environmental impact and will not translate into higher bills for electric customers, according to a new study from the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER) done in collaboration with Resources for the Future, The Johns Hopkins University, and Towson University.
The study is the first to look at the economic and environmental effects of having a heavy coal-based electric generation state like Maryland join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative agreement among Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). The researchers say that in the absence of a national policy, the findings suggest that a regional, multi-state approach could help limit carbon emissions.
Among the key findings:
The study estimates that between 2010 and 2025, Maryland's participation in RGGI would reduce the state's carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generators by roughly 10 percent. For all the RGGI states, the impact of Maryland's membership would be to reduce emissions 4.3 percent beyond levels achieved if Maryland were not participating.
In the aggregate, profits from electricity production would likely decrease by about 12 percent. Profits from electricity production with coal-fired plants would decrease, while profits from electricity generated with oil- and gas-fired plants would rise somewhat. The report projects that retirement of generating plants would be limited to a small number of oil- and gas-fired facilities.
Joining RGGI would have a slightly positive impact on the Maryland economy in both the short and long run, largely because of cost savings from more efficient energy use and the sale of unused emissions allowances. Electric bills would drop slightly for residential customers. Industrial customers who rely more heavily on electricity would see greater savings from efficiencies that lower power requirements, the report says.
The report is available through CIER.
Resources for the Future, an independent and nonpartisan Washington, D.C., think-tank, seeks to improve environmental and natural resource policymaking worldwide through objective social science research of the highest caliber.
Founded in 1952, Resources for the Future is an independent and nonpartisan institution.