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Cap lowered for multi-state greenhouse gas pact

The amount of greenhouse gases that can be released under a multi-state pollution reduction agreement is being lowered.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative announced Thursday that the changes will cut carbon dioxide emissions 45 percent below 2005 levels and preserve reductions already achieved. Maryland officials say the program is a cornerstone of its plan to cut greenhouse gases by a quarter by 2020.

Under the initiative, fossil-fuel burning power plants in the northeastern states are required to buy credits to cover their pollution over a set limit. Those that cut more can trade credits for that amount.

In Maryland, auction proceeds are used for programs including energy efficiency, conservation, low-income energy aid and clean energy.

Eric Schaeffer, the director of the Environmental Integrity Project, described the reduction as significant.