Scientists and environmental groups that link greenhouse gas emissions to climate change and the frequency of severe storms applauded the new rules on Thursday and urged other regions to adopt similar cap-and-trade programs.
"This is a major milestone in the fight against climate change," Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, said in a statement. The not-for-profit advocates for environmental protection in the six million acre Adirondack Park in New York. Acid rain caused by pollution is blamed for degrading hundreds of lakes in the park.
Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project, described the 45 percent reduction in the cap as significant — and perhaps the best that could be hoped for politically — but added that a cut of 65 percent or 70 percent would be needed to fully address global warming.
"They're trying to set at least the Northeastern states on a path where they are not waiting for the feds, they are going to try to do something about the problem now," he said.
Sue Reid, vice president of Conservation Law Foundation of Massachusetts, noted that power plants emissions are but one component of the greenhouse gas problem.
"It doesn't solve the whole climate conundrum, not by a fair margin," said Reid. "There is still a lot more to do."
Associated Press writers Alex Dominguez in Baltimore and Rik Stevens in Albany, N.Y., contributed to this report.