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Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Improves Health, Saves Lives, and Generates $5.7 Billion in Benefits

New study reveals benefits of RGGI to human health and economic productivity 
CAMBRIDGE, MA — A new, independent study by Abt Associates reveals that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has substantially reduced the number of premature deaths, heart attacks, and respiratory illnesses in the Northeast since 2009.
RGGI, the first regional market-based CO2 trading program in the U.S., has reduced air pollution from fossil fuel power plants, created region-wide economic benefits to the RGGI states, and contributed to improved health of people throughout the Northeast. The study uses historical data from 2009 to 2014 to document reductions in air pollution and the corresponding health impacts. RGGI has resulted in an estimated:





  • 300 – 830 avoided adult deaths
  • 8,200 – 9,900 avoided asthma exacerbations
  • 13,000 – 16,000 avoided respiratory illnesses
  • 35 – 390 avoided heart attacks
RGGI has generated an estimated $5.7 billion in health savings and other benefits for Northeastern states as a direct result of healthier families and workers. States now have a healthier workforce with fewer sick days and increased productivity. The study shows that RGGI has resulted in:







  • The avoidance of 39,000 – 47,000 lost work days
  • 240,000 – 280,000 fewer days with lower levels of activity (such as walking and exercising)
“These results show that carbon trading programs like RGGI provide many benefits,” says Michelle Manion, Abt Senior Associate and lead author of the study. “RGGI is saving lives, improving health, and increasing productivity in the Northeast.”
The health benefits of RGGI extend across the Northeast region. Every participating state has experienced health and economic benefits, including Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey (which participated from 2009 through 2011).
Improved health and productivity benefits also extended to the neighboring states of Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.  
“RGGI’s impact on electricity markets has resulted in significant reductions in harmful air pollutants across the Northeast,” said Dr. Patrick Kinney, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Boston University.
While RGGI-driven health benefits are likely to level off in the future, this study also notes that the increasingly cleaner, more efficient electricity grid in the RGGI region will provide new opportunities for additional, substantial health benefits. As energy demand from other sectors – such as transportation and heating – shifts onto the cleaner grid in the Northeast states, similar added health benefits can be expected.
“This study shows how a regional approach to greenhouse gas reduction is helping families and communities,” said Christopher Spera, PhD, Division Vice President for US Health at Abt Associates. “Behind the numbers are real people who aren’t suffering from illness or premature deaths, and are now enjoying an improved quality of life.”
Read the full report.
About RGGI
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first regional market-based CO2 trading program in the US.  RGGI was launched by ten Northeast states in 2009 to reduce carbon pollution, and has been an economic and environmental success. This comprehensive study highlights the benefits to human health and states’ economies. 
About Abt Associates
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries.

Amy Dunaway
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