GUSCIORA CALLS ON GOV. CHRISTIE TO RECONSIDER RGGI EXIT FOLLOWING REPORT RANKING NEW JERSEY AS FIFTH SMOGGIEST STATE

(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Reed Gusciora today called on Gov. Christie to reconsider pulling New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Green Initiative (RGGI), following a report by an advocacy organization that New Jersey is the fifth smoggiest state in the nation.

“This report is the perfect reason why Gov. Christie’s announcement that New Jersey will pull out of RGGI by the end of year is a bad idea,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer). “I understand that RGGI works to control CO 2 emissions, not smog, but this report emphasizes the importance of cap and trade programs to control pollutants that can cause serious harm to people.”

“This report has exposed a problem that is worse than the public thought. According to media reports, the research shows there was an increase in days last year when residents living in New Jersey’s smoggiest areas were exposed to smog levels dangerous to breath. The governor, in his defense of pulling us out of RGGI, has denounced RGGI as ineffective in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. What if he’s wrong? He’s gambling with our health and that’s not right.”

The report, “Danger in the Air: Unhealthy Air Days in 2010 and 2011”, was released by Environment New Jersey, a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.

In addition to the state’s overall ranking, the report ranked the following counties among the top twenty smoggiest areas in the country: Camden County and the city of Philadelphia ranked 8th; the region of Monmouth and Ocean Counties ranked 15th; the region of Middlesex, Somerset and Hunterdon Counties ranked 17th; and the city of Trenton ranked 20th in the nation.

Gov. Christie announced in May that New Jersey would become the first state to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Green Initiative (RGGI), created to cut power plant emissions of carbon dioxide and pay for renewable energy project. The Assembly passed a Senate bill to force New Jersey to stay in RGGI, but not with enough votes to override a veto.

“It’s disconcerting how the governor can unilaterally pull out of RGGI without legislative approval. Furthermore, how does this premature exit not conflict with the mandate handed to us by the global warming response bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?”