The amount of greenhouse gases that can be released under a multi-state pollution reduction agreement is being lowered.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — or RGGI — is a pact between nine states that introduces a market-based regulatory program that enforces restrictions on air pollution by making states bid for allowances in carbon dioxide. In other words, it's a way to make people who pollute a lot pay for it, and encourage people who don't need to pollute to pollute less.
On Thursday, the states participating in the RGGI announced that they are drastically cutting the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions they're allowing, shrinking the pollution pie that power plants and other polluters have to fight over.
Specifically, they're reducing that pie by 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2014. Maryland officials say the program is a cornerstone of its plan to cut greenhouse gases by a quarter by 2020.
In Maryland, auction proceeds are used for programs including energy efficiency, conservation, low-income energy aid and clean energy.