Maine is fortunate to be part of an innovative collaboration among nine Northeast states to make our air healthier. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a cooperative effort to reduce the air pollution that causes climate change and the dangerous and costly health impacts that result from higher heat and ozone.

RGGI’s “cap and trade” system sets a region-wide limit on carbon emissions. Power plants can purchase and trade emission allowances at auction. The revenue generated is reinvested in clean energy and efficiency projects that reduce energy costs for businesses and households in participating states.

The results speak for themselves – RGGI works!

In RGGI’s first three years, emissions from power plants in the region dropped by 23 percent. The compact’s $700 million in energy investments are projected to return more than $2 billion in lifetime energy savings to consumers.

Businesses can create jobs because their energy costs are lower, and companies that provide energy-efficiency services are thriving. These same investments are expected to reduce carbon pollution by 12 million tons, which is the equivalent of taking 2 million cars off the road for a year.

The health benefits of RGGI are particularly important for Maine, where our asthma and lung disease rates are already higher than the national average and we spend more than $400 million on medical care each year.

The suggestion in an opinion column that Maine withdraw from the RGGI collaborative seems short-sighted (“M.D. Harmon: Maine should leave Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative compact,” March 28).

We have absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose by abandoning our collective efforts to reduce carbon pollution, slow the rate of climate change, improve lung health and lower the health care costs related to poor air quality. Maine’s participation in RGGI is just what the doctor ordered.

Douglas Couper, M.D.