Rhode Island has a lead on EPA emissions target

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island's work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has given it a jump on new rules proposed by the Obama administration to tackle global warming.

The Environmental Protection Agency plan released Monday sets customized targets for states to cut emissions by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Some states will be allowed to emit more pollutants and others less, with an overall nationwide reduction of 30 percent.

Rhode Island would have to cut carbon emissions from power plants by about 14 percent from 2012. Rhode Island has the third smallest proposed reduction from 2012 levels, behind North Dakota and Maine.

Janet Coit, director of the Department of Environmental Management, said that officials are still analyzing the proposal, but that the state is on target to meet or exceed emissions goals under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a nine-state market-based regulatory program. The states in the program have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by about 40 percent since 2005.

"Nothing I've heard so far is concerning because of the steps we're already taking," she said.

She said she hopes more states will be encouraged to join the initiative because of the EPA plan. The cap-and-trade program has a double benefit, she said. Proceeds from the sale of carbon dioxide allowances go to the state, which then uses the money to help consumers by reinvesting in energy efficiency programs.

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a leading environmentalist in the Senate, called the EPA's proposed rules an important step forward to combat climate change and protect public health.

Tom King, president of National Grid US, the state's largest utility and the largest distributor of natural gas in the Northeast, called it a "sensible and practical regulation."

"Rather than picking winners, this proposed rule supports market-based solutions," he said in a written statement.

He said that while the company supports federal legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in the absence of any such legislation, it supports the EPA's effort.

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