Chivikula Announces Plans For Hearing On Obama Climate Action Plan & Need For N.J. To Rejoin RGGI

Assembly Utilities Chair Urges Stakeholders to Weigh In on Historic Climate Policy & Need for N.J. to Reverse Governor’s Failed Policy on RGGI

(TRENTON) Assembly Utilities Chairman Upendra J. Chivukula today announced plans for a Thursday hearing on President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and on the need for New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The panel will take testimony from stakeholders and invited guests on issues relating to the effects of climate change on the provision of energy in New Jersey. Specifically, the committee will take testimony concerning President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and reducing consumption of traditional energy sources. The public is also invited to testify on the need for New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The Assembly Telecommunications & Utilities Committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, October 10, 2013 in Committee Room # 11 on the 4th Floor at the State House Annex in Trenton.

“We applaud President Obama for his courage and leadership in formulating a historic climate plan to address the escalating danger of global warming, shortly after a report revealed that the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has reached its highest ever levels in human history,” Chivukula (D-Somerset\Middlesex) said.

“Less than a year ago, Hurricane Sandy slammed against the East Coast, battered the mid-Atlantic and ravaged New Jersey, claiming more than 113 lives, gutting hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses and knocking millions out of power. The record number of storms and hurricanes to strike our state in the past few years underscores the urgency of addressing climate change. We look forward to hearing stakeholders weigh in on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan,” he added.

According to a report released earlier this year by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), carbon dioxide daily levels in the atmosphere have surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm). The last time CO2 levels were so high was three to five millions years ago when humans didn’t exist.

Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas, which scientists say, is the main factor in global warming pollution.

Under the Climate Action Plan announced in June, Obama has issued a presidential order to direct the country’s chief environmental regulator, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to complete performance standards for lowering carbon emissions from existing power plants.

The thousands of power plants in the nation, the bulk of which burn coal, account for roughly one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Enclosed are some key highlights of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan:

* Limit pollution from all U.S. power plants;

* Set energy efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings;

* Task the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) to approve enough permitting of renewable energy projects like wind and solar on public lands, to power more than 6 million homes by 2020;

* Require the DOI to install 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020;

The United States has set a goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030, which is more than half the annual carbon pollution from the U.S. energy sector, via efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings.

On the international level, Obama’s Climate Action Plan calls for the end of U.S. government support for public financing of new coal-fired plants overseas, except for the poorest of countries or facilities deploying carbon capture and sequestration technologies. It commits to expanding major new and existing international initiatives including bilateral agreements with China, India and other major emitting countries.

“We look forward to New Jersey continuing its leadership in fighting climate change by working with the Obama administration on the Climate Action Plan. Our state has long been at the forefront of advancing a clean energy economy with groundbreaking measures like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that I was proud to sponsor. In its first three years, RGGI generated more than $1.6 billion in economic activity and tens of thousands of clean jobs for the region as well as delivered significant savings from energy efficiency,” Chivukula said.

“But Gov. Christie’s partisan decision to pull New Jersey out of RGGI, combined with his unprecedented raids of more than $800 million in clean energy funds, have resulted in a setback to our state’s clean energy agenda. Retreating from RGGI was a tactical blunder and we believe it is crucial that New Jersey rejoin the regional greenhouse compact,” he added.

Chivukula is the lead Assembly sponsor of the original RGGI measure which facilitated New Jersey’s participation in the multi-state cooperative.

RGGI is a cap and trade program that sets a regional limit on the emissions of carbon dioxide and allows entities to trade quotas under the cap. Entities like power companies that need to exceed their pollution quotas to meet production targets can purchase unused quotas from other entities at regional auctions. Proceeds from the auctions are used to fund clean energy, including the use and development of solar and wind power, clean energy technologies and energy efficiency programs.