(TRENTON) Assembly Telecom and Utilities Chairman Upendra J. Chivkula panned Gov. Christie’s decision to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) as a regressive and misguided move driven by partisan politics.
The Governor announced his decision today to withdraw New Jersey from the ten-state compact by the end of the year at a news conference in Trenton.
RGGI is the nation’s first mandatory, market-based program to reduce greenhouse emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by establishing a regional cap on emissions.
Under RGGI, entities like power plants are issued a limited number of tradable allowances and allowed to trade their unused quotas. The measure (A-4559) provides for a 10 percent reduction of emissions in the region by 2018.
Chivukula (D-Somerset), who is the prime sponsor of RGGI, issued the following statement:
“Gov. Christie’s decision to pull out of RGGI tantamounts to a reckless endangerment of the environment.
“It is a regressive and misguided move that impedes decades of progress towards a responsible energy future.
“RGGI is an innovative cap-and-trade program that ensures the regional reduction of emissions while allowing market forces to determine the most economic means of reducing pollution and creating the maket certainty needed to drive long-term investment in clean energy.
“RGGI’s extraordinary success is demonstrated in nearly full compliance by participating states, a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the success of clean energy programs funded by the auctions.
“Participating states have chosen to auction nearly all their emission allowances and to invest the proceeds in a Global Warming Solutions Fund for consumer benefit programs. Until March 2011, more than $860 million were raised in regional auctions. An estimated 63 percent of the funds were invested in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other clean energy technologies.
“However in New Jersey, Gov. Christie shortchanged the ratepayer by raiding the estimated $65 million in RGGI funds to help balance his budget for the fiscal year 2010 to 2011.
“It is thanks to landmark measures and breakthrough initatives like RGGI, the Energy Master Plan, and the Global Warming Response Act that have the overwhelming mandate of our state’s citizens that New Jersey is today a national leader in clean energy and has experienced significant growth in green jobs and a green economy.
“As a result of these progressive policies, we have also emerged as national leaders in wind and solar. Global warming pollution in the region is down 15 to 30 percent since the launch of RGGI.
“RGGI is also directly responsible for creating 18,000 jobs. Overall, because of RGGI, the economy in the region has grown by more than $2.3 billion.
“The Governor seems to be bent on impeding the progress we have made in generating green jobs powered by a green economy. By dismantling a progressive and well coordinated policy like RGGI, he will set us back by decades in moving our state towards a responsible energy future and in protecting the environment from greenhouse emissions.
“His missteps appear to be driven by partisan politics and are jeopardizing New Jersey’s clean energy future.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
RGGI implements New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan that sets a target for 30 percent of the state’s energy coming from renewable Dests by 2020 including wind and solar. It provides for a reduction of overall energy demand by 20 percent and for the development of nearly 2000 MW of solar energy and 3,000 MW of offshore wind energy by 2020.
The Global Warming Response Act works in connection with New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan and is implemented by measures like RGGI. The plan requires the reduction of CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below the 2008 levels by 2050.