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Climate Change and Rhode Island

Climate change is a major concern for Rhode Island because of its potential impacts on our coastal areas, drinking water, energy supply, economy and health. The following is a summary of the climate change mitigation activities being implemented by the Office of Air Resources:

  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI): RGGI is a market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric power generating units. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. For additional details, please refer to the RGGI page.
  • Transporation and Climate Initiative (TCI): a multi-state effort amongst the transportation, energy and environmental state agencies in 11 Mid-Atlantic and Northeast States and the District of Columbia to work collaboratively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
  • Clean Fuel Standard (CFS): A program currently being evaluated by 11 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels used in the LCFS Region.
  • Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) MOU: The governors of 8 states (California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont) signed a memorandum of understanding to take specific actions to put 3.3 million zero emission vehicles on the roads in their states by 2025, along with the refueling infrastructure required to support those vehicles.
  • CA vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards: RI adopted California's greenhouse gas emission standards for motor vehicles (Air Pollution Control Regulation No. 37). The emission standards apply to model year 2009 vehicles and beyond. Standards after model year 2011 were incorporated into the national program (see next bullet).
  • Light Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards: A national program that applies to passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles, covering model years 2012 through 2025.
  • Heavy Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards: A national program that applies to heavy duty trucks and buses, covering model years 2014 through 2018.
  • Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): A national program to ensure that transportation fuel sold in the United States contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel.

In addition, the Office of Air Resources is involved with:

RI Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (RIEC4): RIEC4 was established in 2014 with the task to take a lead role in developing a comprehensive approach to address the potential threats from climate change to the State’s environment, economy, and its people. That approach includes both mitigative measures including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as well as adapting to impacts that can no longer be avoided. Among other duties, the Council is responsible to submit a plan to the Governor and the General Assembly no later than December 31, 2016 with strategies, programs and actions to achieve specific greenhouse gas reduction targets. The Council is also working to accelerate the State’s preparedness and to mitigate further environmental harm by working alongside Rhode Island’s first Chief Resiliency Officer to develop and lead implementation of a comprehensive climate preparedness strategy by July 1, 2018 in accordance with Executive Order 17-10. The RIEC4 website provides further detail on the specific duties of the Council, members, meeting schedule and materials, and reports and resources.

EPA's Clean Power Plan (CPP): On August 3, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP is part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan and will reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. The CPP seeks to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. For further information on the CPP including how Rhode Island intends to comply with the CPP, please refer to CPP page.