U.S. State Initiatives
State Climate Policy Tracker
The state climate policy map was created and is maintained by Climate XChange, a partnering organization, that tracks the passage and implementation of 66 climate policies across all 50 states. Click on the map for up-to-date policies and emissions data.
Active Carbon Pricing Policies in the U.S.
Below are brief descriptions of carbon pricing policies active in the United States.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced like “Reggie”) is a cooperative effort among twelve Eastern states (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, MD, DE, and VA) to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants within each participating state.
Together, the participating states have established a regional cap on CO2 emissions, which limits the emissions from regulated power plants within the RGGI states. Over time, the regional cap declines, so that CO2 emissions decrease in a planned and predictable way. Since its inception, RGGI emissions have reduced by more than 50% – twice as fast as the national as a whole – and so far raised nearly $6 billion to invest in local communities.
There are 4 auctions per year, and they are structured so that every allowance is sold at the same price for that auction. One allowance is for one short ton of CO2. In 2022, final clearing prices for each of the 4 auctions held in that year ranged from $12.99-$13.90. You can learn more about RGGI at www.rggi.org.
Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) requires California to return to 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Passed in 2006, this bill enacted a number of programs to achieve this goal, one of which was a cap-and-trade program. It complements other measures to ensure that California cost-effectively meets its goals for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.
The Cap-and-Trade Regulation establishes a declining limit on major sources of GHG emissions throughout California, and it creates a powerful economic incentive for significant investment in cleaner, more efficient technologies. The program applies to emissions that cover approximately 80 percent of the state’s GHG emissions. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) creates allowances equal to the total amount of permissible emissions (i.e., the “cap”). One allowance equals one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (using the 100-year global warming potential). Each year, fewer allowances are created and the annual cap declines. An increasing annual auction reserve (or floor) price for allowances and the reduction in annual allowances creates a steady and sustained carbon price signal to prompt action to reduce GHG emissions. All covered entities in the Cap-and-Trade Program are still subject to existing air quality permit limits for criteria and toxic air pollutants.
The policy linked with Quebec’s cap-and-trade system in 2014 enabling the mutual acceptance of compliance instruments issued by each jurisdiction to be used for compliance with each program. As a result, they hold a joint auction. Four auctions were held in 2022, with advance auction settlement prices ranging from $19.70-$30.00, and current auction settlement prices ranging from $26.80-$30.85.
Though not technically carbon prices, severance fees are nonetheless prices on the extraction of fossil fuels. They are a fee paid to state governments for “severing” a fossil fuel from the earth. Most US states have one (34 in total), and they are particularly common in red states. Of course, these fees were not originally intended to reduce fossil fuel use at all. However, they do illustrate that putting a price on fossil fuels is already quite widespread within the United states, not particularly difficult to administer for states, nor a large burden on fossil fuel companies. A simple shift in perspective could easily lead to more widespread pricing of fossil fuels linked explicitly to their harms on the environment.