A recently published op-ed mentioned the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and how beneficial it has been for the Northeast (”Maine Compass: Improving the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative could help save the world,” Feb. 7). The author does a nice job explaining the benefits of RGGI, including job creation, a boost for state economies, and cutting carbon emissions throughout the region. Surely, these are good for the future of our state. However, there is one benefit that the author did not mention.

Recently, Abt Associates, an independent research firm, released “Analysis of the Public Health Impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative from 2009-2014.” The report highlights the health benefits that RGGI has brought to the Northeast, ranging from more than 8,000 avoided asthma attacks to hundreds of lives being saved.

Not only has RGGI prevented respiratory episodes such as asthma attacks and saved lives, it has also saved Mainers millions of dollars in reduced health costs. Add to this that the program has also prevented more than 700 missed work days in Maine alone shows just how impactful RGGI has been on the lives of Mainers.

RGGI has led to healthier air and safer communities due to drastically reduced emissions from power plants. This is possible due to a periodic and extensive review process.

RGGI is currently undergoing one of these program reviews to chart its future after 2020. At a time where the future of clean air protections is uncertain, Maine’s Legislature must embrace and empower RGGI to preserve a future with cleaner, healthier air for all Mainers.

Tyler St. Clair

Healthy air campaign coordinator,

American Lung Association of the Northeast

Augusta

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