ARB Research Seminar

This page updated June 19, 2013

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the Northeast States

Denise M. Sheehan, Commissioner, and Franz T. Litz, Climate Change Policy Coordinator, of The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

December 11, 2006
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA



New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Denise Sheehan, will provide a general introduction to New York climate change policy. Commissioner Sheehan will begin with an explanation of New York Governor George Pataki's Greenhouse Gas Task Force, formed in 2001. Commissioner Sheehan will then briefly outline the major climate change initiatives being pursued by New York State.

New York Department's Climate Change Policy Coordinator, Franz Litz, will provide a detailed description of the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a mandatory cap-and-trade program by 7 Northeast states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the region. Under RGGI, the governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont have agreed to implement a multi-state, flexible, market-based program with seamless emissions trading across state lines to reduce emissions at the lowest possible cost. The RGGI emissions trading program will launch January 1, 2009. Modeled after the federal sulfur dioxide trading program, RGGI includes several innovative program components, including the auctioning of emissions allowances and provision for project-based reductions or "offsets".

Speaker Biography

Denise M. Sheehan was named Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on November 29, 2005. Commissioner Sheehan had served as Acting Commissioner since February 2005. Commissioner Sheehan has 19 years of experience working in New York State government, and Commissioner Sheehan has served in various capacities at DEC since 1998. Prior to becoming Commissioner, Commissioner Sheehan held the position of Executive Deputy Commissioner for three years where Commissioner Sheehan was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Department and providing policy direction to the Department's senior staff.

Commissioner Sheehan also formerly served as the Department's Assistant Commissioner for Administration, responsible for the Divisions of Operations, Management and Budget, Information Services, Environmental Permits, and Public Affairs and Education.

Prior to joining DEC, Ms. Sheehan worked at the New York State Division of the Budget for 11 years, where Ms. Sheehan was responsible for overseeing the budgets of New York State's environmental, recreational, and energy agencies. In that capacity, Ms. Sheehan also worked on legislation to establish the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act and the Environmental Protection Fund.

In her capacity as DEC Commissioner, Ms. Sheehan serves on a variety of state boards and commissions, including the Environmental Facilities Corporation, where Commissioner Sheehan serves as the Chairperson; the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; Adirondack Park Agency; Olympic Regional Development Authority, and the Hudson River Park Trust.

Commissioner Sheehan earned a Master's degree in Public Administration from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Commissioner Sheehan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Political Science from the State University of New York College at Oneonta. Commissioner Sheehan is a life-long resident of New York's Capital Region, and enjoys outdoor recreational activities including fishing, hiking, camping and skiing throughout the state. Commissioner Sheehan resides in Niskayuna, New York with her husband, Michael Miller.

Franz T. Litz is the Climate Change Policy Coordinator for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, a position he has held since 2003. In that capacity, Mr. Litz serves as the chief policy advisor on climate change issues to New York's Commissioner of Environmental Conservation. He also heads the agency's executive-level climate change office.

Mr. Litz has served as New York's principal representative to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), an effort by 8 Northeast states to implement the first flexible, market-based cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide in the United States. Since RGGI began, Mr. Litz has chaired the group of state staff representatives conducting the RGGI discussions. As chair, Mr. Litz has been instrumental in bringing the states to consensus around RGGI decisions. He facilitated the multi-state RGGI staff meetings, served as the principal author of the Memorandum of Understanding that was executed by the region's governors in December 2005, and a principal drafter of the RGGI model rule-the set of rules for the RGGI carbon trading program.

Mr. Litz is a member of the Advisory Board of The Climate Group, a worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to spotlighting positive action on climate change by businesses and governments. He is a participant in a number of ongoing climate change policy initiatives, including the Earth Institute's Global Roundtable on Climate Change, and the Center for Clean Air Policy's National Climate Change Dialogue. Mr. Litz has also been invited to be a member of the Expert Working Group on Emissions Trading of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE). In early 2006, Mr. Litz was selected to study the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme in depth as part of the European Union Visitor's Program. Mr. Litz is a frequent contributor to and speaker at conferences on climate change policy and emission trading worldwide.

Prior to entering public service in New York in 2001, Mr. Litz practiced environmental law with Brown Rudnick, a large Boston law firm, where he represented both private and public clients on a wide range of environmental matters. He is a graduate of Boston College Law School, cum laude, where he served as Executive Editor of the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, and a graduate of Union College, magna cum laude.

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