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New Jersey Statehouse to Vote on Christie's Attempts to Leave RGGI - Again.

Dale Bryk

Posted May 24, 2012

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Last year, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection illegally declared that NJ was no longer regulating greenhouse gases and was dropping out of the popular and effective Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a 10-state compact that cuts air pollution from power plants, generates revenue for the state, reduces energy costs for consumers and businesses, and creates jobs that can’t be shipped overseas. Last summer, the state’s Senate and Assembly voted to resist this action and keep New Jersey involved in the beneficial program. Christie vetoed the legislation.

Now, I’m happy to say that New Jersey’s statehouse is not taking “no” for an answer. Today, the Assembly is expected to vote again to authorize New Jersey’s participation in RGGI. The State Senate already passed a similar bill in March.

Why is the legislature so persistent? For one reason: RGGI works.

Study after study shows that in New Jersey and across the region, RGGI is bringing in significant environmental and economic benefits. It has created 16,000 job-years’ worth of work in the 10 participating New England and Mid-Atlantic states. (A job year is just what it sounds like: one year’s worth of work.) It has generated more $1.6 billion of economic activity, will reduce the average family’s electric bill by $25, and has helped cut climate change pollution in the region by about 30 percent since it started. It does this by ensuring that Northeasterners send fewer of their energy dollars out of state to import coal and other fossil fuels and spends more of them in their local communities, making our homes, offices and factories more energy efficient and investing in solar and wind energy.

During New Jersey’s participation in RGGI, the sale of pollution permits has generated $125 million for the state to invest in local, job-creating energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  Despite the fact that Governor Christie diverted more than half of those funds to plug budget holes, the state was still able to generate $159 million in local benefits, and create 1,800 job-years worth of work.  

RGGI is also helping to keep NJ electric bills lower than they would be. And it’s reducing harmful air pollution that contributes to climate change and inflames cardiovascular health problems in adults and children. No wonder RGGI won the endorsement of former Republican New Jersey governor and 9/11 Commission chairman Thomas Kean.

Ensuring the state’s continued participation in RGGI offers New Jerseyans the kind of benefits few pieces of legislation can—jobs, lower energy bills and less  pollution. And passing this bill heeds the will of the voters, as polling shows New Jersey residents support the goals of the program.

That’s why it’s likely the Assembly will pass its pro-RGGI legislation today. If it does, let’s hope Governor Christie listens to the wisdom of his state’s elected representatives, rather than to out of state interests in the dirty fuel industry.  This time he should sign the legislation into law.

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screwyMay 25 2012 09:00 AM

"RGGI is also helping to keep NJ electric bills lower than they would be" HA! a profoundly ignorant statement devoid of any logic whatsoever.

Forcing energy producing plants to pay for carbon permits raises the electricity rates of every resident and business in New Jersey.

There is no demand for clean energy jobs in the private sector, unlike oil industry....all of these contrived green jobs need to be subsidized by the government who then robs residents and businesses to pay for their clean energy experiments.

The upfront costs of for solar and wind are too pricey and a return on such investments never occur ...not for decades and decades down the road. Residents do not squander their money on stupidity the state does it for them.

As for RGGI it offers nothing in the way of green along is nothing but a tax ...a cap and trade scheme that will benefit traders and investors like Al Gore.. and do nothing for the environment.

It doesn't change the behavior.. it just just costs our industries more.... giving them incentive to leave our state to where there is no phantom cap on energy production.

screwyMay 25 2012 09:14 AM


It’s not about reducing carbon dioxide emission or reducing global warming.

The experience of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the northeastern United States shows us once again that the point of cap-and-trade is to generate tax revenue and not to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or global warming.

Currently there is one operating cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide in the U.S.—the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. On Monday it was reported the demand for CO2 allowances had crashed at the latest RGGI auction. If the goal of RGGI were to reduce CO2 emissions, this would be hailed as good news. Lower prices mean that demand is down for the necessary CO2 permits. This should be good news.

RGGI’s website describes RGGI as, “is the first market-based regulatory program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states have capped and will reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector 10 percent by 2018.” [emphasis added]

The good news is that carbon dioxide emissions in the RGGI states have already far exceeded RGGI’s goals. In fact, carbon dioxide emissions from power plants are down by more than 30 percent—three times more than RGGI’s goals.

RGGI’s proponents should be ecstatic, right? After all, the goal has been achieved. In fact, since the stated goal has been achieved three times over, it would makes sense to declare victory and end the program. But that isn’t happening.

Instead, RGGI’s proponents, such as David Littell, the Maine Public Utilities Commissioner, argues, “The RGGI states have put a price on carbon to foster innovation in our region. . . The RGGI auctions are continuing to drive large-scale investments in energy bill savings and improved business competitiveness.”

In other words, RGGI is a tax. By putting a “price on carbon” RGGI generates tax revenue that is spent by bureaucrats on pet projects such as energy efficiency projects that some business would not spend personal or company money, but are more than willing to undertake the projects with ratepayer’s money.

The bottom line is that carbon dioxide emissions have dropped precipitously is not because of RGGI or putting “a price on carbon.” The reason carbon dioxide emission have dropped is because of the rise of shale gas and the poor economy. As E&E News reported, “the consultancy ICF International has told RGGI members that their system isn’t contributing to lowering emissions in the Northeast, nor would it ever, unless the current cap is slashed by at least one-fourth.” [emphasis added]

The situation with RGGI shows what we said all along about cap-and-trade. It’s a tax—a great big tax as Rep. John Dingell described it. We are much better off as a country to have avoided a nationwide carbon tax.

BSMay 25 2012 11:24 AM

RGGI helping keep prices lower. I love it.

New England electricity prices are higher than just about any other placein the country. Well, except for Pennsylvania. And Pennsylvania is not participating in RGGI. Coincidence? Not likely.

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