The original agreement to develop the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), following a 2005 memorandum of understanding, included a provision for a “comprehensive review” of all aspects of the program. The successful experience of this program review illustrates the importance of including a comprehensive assessment mechanism of RGGI’s functions to ensure its economic, environmental, and equitable performance. This report examines the design and steps of that process in detail to draw out lessons for other jurisdictions now designing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. An appreciation of the benefits and challenges associated with a formal program review could help these jurisdictions accommodate the uncertainty inherent in regulatory systems and to make valuable adjustments to their greenhouse gas reduction plans when necessary.

Regulators and other experts interviewed during research for this report noted that the benefits of RGGI’s program review include regulatory flexibility, transparency, and the ability to engage stakeholders. For other U.S. states or regions seeking to implement emissions reduction plans, the RGGI program review’s lessons include:

  • The benefit of recognizing and addressing uncertainty;
  • The value of a level of review that goes beyond mere monitoring;
  • Evidence that a broad scope of review can be flexible and effective; and
  • Recognition of the opportunities to educate affected parties in the course of the process.