The nine states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, including Rhode Island, have set a new, more ambitious goal for reducing carbon emissions by 2030.
They want to cut pollution by 30 percent -- or more, if that proves too easy.
The states in RGGI agreed this month on that new goal and other updates to the eight-year-old program. It lets polluters either reduce emissions, or buy credits to keep emitting. The proceeds from those credits go to rebates and efficiency projects.
The new version of the program will also automatically retire some credits if they get too cheap -- effectively moving the goalpost if polluters are finding it too easy to reduce emissions.
New Hampshire and Maine have opted not join that provision -- meaning the new RGGI goal won't be quite as aggressive as it would be otherwise.
Travis Madsen, with Environment America, says he hopes the states' legislatures will reconsider as they codify RGGI this year.
"We'd like to see the entire program become more ambitious," he says. "We need to phase out this dangerous carbon pollution entirely, and do so by no later than the middle of the century, and the faster the better."
First, New Hampshire has to decide again if it wants to be part of RGGI at all. A bill to pull out of the program will be up for a vote in the first days of the 2018 legislative session.
This report comes from the New England News Collaborative: Eight public media companies, including Rhode Island Public Radio, coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.