Richmond, VA -- A new, independent report released today by Abt Associates reveals that dangerous pollutants in our air have fallen substantially in the states that participate in the nation’s best clean air and climate program – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative effort to reduce greenhouse gas initiatives in nine states from Maryland to Vermont. While Virginia does not currently participate in RGGI, the report finds that the health benefits of the program extend to neighboring states like Virginia.
In Virginia, over just six years, from 2009 to 2014, this program:
- Averted 800 asthma attacks
- Prevented 3,600 missed work days due to illness; and
- Prevented 22,000 days where people would have had to restrict daily activities, such as exercise, due to respiratory problems.
Altogether, these health benefits are valued at $380 million in Virginia alone.
The Virginia General Assembly considered, but ultimately did not pass, the Virginia Coastal Protection Act, legislation authorizing Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, during the 2015 and 2016 sessions.
We expect similar legislation to be introduced this year. In addition to joining RGGI, this legislation would provide a funding stream to address coastal flooding issues in Virginia, assist with workforce development, and expand clean energy and energy efficiency.
Environment Virginia’s State Director, Sarah Bucci, released the following statement in response to the report:
"This report shows, when you take important steps to clean up air pollution, especially from power plants, the air gets cleaner. As a results, we’re all living longer and healthier lives.
"Across the Northeast, states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have benefited. Pollution has gone down all across the region – including in a neighboring state like Virginia. Think about how much more we could achieve if Virginia participated in a program like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or through our own program to cut pollution from power plants and clean our air.
"That’s why Environment Virginia supports legislation pushing Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Additionally, Governor McAuliffe has the opportunity to put Virginia on a path to lower carbon pollution from Virginia’s power plants through his Executive Order 57 process.
"Think about how much more we could achieve by continuing to cut pollution. The cleaner we make our air, the healthier we’ll be."
The report documents, including an executive summary, appendix of state-level data, and a fact sheet of the top-level findings are available on the Abt Associates website at: http://www.abtassociates.com/rggi