Energy Policy

Regional Initiatives


Without national climate policy, regional efforts sprout up

Despite the federal government's inability to enact comprehensive climate legislation to mandate a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, much of the United States is moving forward to address climate change.

There are 3 Regional Programs committed to greenhouse gas reduction which together represent 23 states and 4 Canadian provinces, and account for half the US population and more than a third of US greenhouse gas emissions.

These programs represent a widespread interest in mandatory greenhouse gas reduction across the country. As you look at the participating states and provinces, you'll see a wide diversity of politics, resource consumption, economies, and environmental concerns. Their willingness to address climate issues represents not only an acknowledgment of the problem, but also an acceptance of the challenge of solving the problems while juggling economic and political considerations. Because the states are all so varied, addressing climate change at this sub-national scale represents an opportunity for the states to tailor their programs specifically to their assets and handicaps.

 US map showing states with greenhouse gas programs
State Participants in Regional Greenhouse Gas Programs Around the United States
Click Here for Text alternative to regional greenhouse gas programs image
Regional Greenhouse Gas Programs
Program Participant(s)
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and TCI Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware
RGGI Observer and TCI Pennsylvania (though Governor Wolf is trying to move PA into the program)
Midwest GHG Reduction Accord Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas
MGGRA Observer Ohio, Indiana, South Dakota
Western Climate Initiative Washington, Montana, Oregon, California, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico
Western Climate Initiative Observer Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska

1. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

RGGI was the first (and currently the only) mandatory cap and trade system for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. It covers power plant emissions in 10 Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic states and calls for a 10% reduction in those emissions by 2018.

Emission allowances are auctioned off, and the proceeds are re-invested in energy efficiency, clean energy technologies, and other related programs.

We can look at the RGGI program as a pilot program for national cap and trade - either economy-wide or just of the utility sector.

2. The Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (MGGRA)

The Accord is comprised of 6 states and 1 Canadian province (and 3 observer states and 1 observer Canadian province). Members are charged to formally commit to greenhouse gas emission reductions, set regional targets for reductions, and establish a multi-sector cap and trade system to reach their goals.

3. The Western Climate Initiative (WCI)

There are 7 states and 4 Canadian provinces participating in the WCI along with 4 Canadian provinces, 6 US states, and 6 Mexican states signed on as observers. The WCI has committed to reducing their regional greenhouse gas emissions to 15% below 2005 levels by the year 2020 and will do so by implementing a market-based cap and trade system, similar to the future plans of the Accord and the existing RGGI program.