by Joel Porter
North Carolina can’t afford to wait any longer, we must limit carbon dioxide emissions from our state. That is why we joined the NC Coastal Federation and Southern Environmental Law Center on a petition for rulemaking at the NC Environmental Management Commission that would join our state in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
Previously, our state passed the NC Clean Smokestacks Act to clean up our fossil electricity generation but failed to regulate greenhouse gasses in that effort. RGGI is a simple way to build on the Clean Smokestacks Act, price the externality (carbon), and address a market failure that will help us cut emissions and limit warming.
We need to be sure that North Carolina is doing its part to remain competitive in a carbon-constrained world. RGGI will accomplish that task. It will ensure that solar and renewable energy assets continue to be added to the grid in an economical way that requires no additional legislation. It will continue to cut unhealthy co-pollutants such as nitrogen oxide. And it will position our state to meet climate goals set by our Governor, cities, counties, and by an increasing number of businesses; all of which understand the risks posed by climate change.
The Federal Government may try to implement any number of climate-related policies. The Environmental Protection Agency, after all, has an endangerment finding that requires them to regulate greenhouse gasses. Additionally, the EU and other countries may try to push the U.S. into passing a national carbon price by implementing what’s called a “Border Carbon Adjustment.” This is a World Trade Organization compliant tariff that forces countries without a price on greenhouse gasses to account for the cost of emissions in goods when trading into areas that do.
North Carolina has numerous companies that trade internationally. If a border adjustment is implemented, companies in our state will have to account for the carbon used while manufacturing their products. RGGI can help our state and our companies get ahead of the curve by addressing this accounting necessity and by meeting any regulatory ambition set by the EPA.
Clean Air Carolina is a North Carolina-focused advocacy organization, and we support solutions that limit pollution in our state. RGGI will do just that.