Climate Contrasts: Same Day as EPA Clean Power Plan Finalized, Gov. Christie Formally Repealed NJ RGGI Climate Rule
Trenton - On the same day that President Obama finalized the nation’s biggest step to cut global warming pollution, Gov. Chris Christie quietly moved New Jersey in the opposite direction on Monday. The Christie Administration formally repealed the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) rule that limits dangerous climate-changing pollution from power plants and governed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program.
“The contrast between President Obama and Governor Christie on climate change could not be starker,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “The President recognizes the scientific imperative to act on climate, while Gov. Christie continues to ignore climate science and move us backward.”
Gov. Christie’s action on Monday was the latest in his long battle to reject the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap on pollution from fossil-fuel power plants that New Jersey helped launch before Gov. Christie took office.
“New Jersey was a leader on tackling carbon pollution before Gov. Christie came to office. Gov. Christie decision to pull us out of the RGGI program was wrong four year ago, and it is still wrong now,” said Asm. John McKeon, vice-chairman of the Assembly Environment Committee. “The New Jersey Legislature is committed to rejoining this landmark climate program and we will push to override this wrong-headed regulatory decision via the Legislature by a majority vote as soon as possible.”
RGGI has cut pollution by more than a third in the nine participating Northeast states, while giving them a $1.3 billion economic boost from 2012 to 2014, according to recent reports by the Analysis Group and Acadia Center.
“We have seen first-hand the detrimental impacts of Governor Christie’s decision to leave RGGI – a program that would help reduce carbon pollution, support economic development, and help the state comply with the Clean Power Plan,” said Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6). “Since Governor Christie’s initial decision to withdraw New Jersey from RGGI, the state has forgone over $100 million in revenue supported by RGGI. Now, with the withdrawal finalization, he is trying to put the nail in the coffin. Luckily, the President’s Clean Power Plan is the single most significant step the U.S. has taken to reduce carbon pollution and take action on climate change, and it will directly address what Governor Christie is unwilling to face – the negative impacts of carbon pollution from power plants on public health in New Jersey.”
Despite its benefits, Gov. Christie withdrew New Jersey from RGGI in 2011, and hasn’t enforced state rules capping the state’s power plant emissions since. Following the successful outcome of a lawsuit from Environment New Jersey and the Natural Resources Defense Council decided in March 2014, the Christie Administration was ordered to solicit public input on repealing the NJDEP rule that governs the pollution limits last summer.
“By eliminating New Jersey’s participation in RGGI , Governor Christie is squandering critical investments in clean energy while selfishly standing in the way of job creation purely for political gain. All of this comes on the heels of the announcement of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which marks a significant step forward in the fight against the threat of climate change. Taking action now is crucial to ensuring our children and grandchildren will inherent a planet that is cleaner, healthier and safer to live. But the Governor chooses instead to abandon our responsibly to future generations,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9).
That process showed overwhelming support for capping carbon pollution and remaining part of RGGI, with the vast majority of the more than 5,000 of oral and written comments supporting the regional cap on power plant pollution. This is in addition to the more than 60,000 public comments urging Gov. Christie and the New Jersey Legislature to rejoin the RGGI program.
“What the Governor did was shameful and hurts New Jersey financially and hurts our environment. RGGI worked and the money collected from RGGI went out to help environmental programs, expand renewable energy, and help middle class families save money on their electric bills. RGGI created more than 1,700 jobs and helped to reduce greenhouse gasses while growing our economy. pulling out of RGGI cost New Jersey more then $40 million dollars a year and over $200 so far .The Governor pulled out of RGGI illegally, violating the legislative intent of the Global Warming Response Act. The legislature needs to stand up to the Governor and do what is right for New Jersey by setting aside this rule,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “It’s ironic that pulling out of RGGI became finalized on the same day President Obama announces his Clean Power Plan that calls for states to join regional greenhouse gas compacts just like RGGI. Governor Christie puts out more hot air climate change and would rather support the Koch Brothers and the Tea Party than protect our environment.”
Monday’s rule repeal came despite overwhelming support for power plant pollution limits in New Jersey, where more than three-quarters of the public support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The move also comes as Gov. Christie, among 16 Republican contenders, makes a bid for the Republican nomination for the Presidency.
“Governor Christie is on the wrong side of history,” said O’Malley. “Embracing climate action should be a requirement for anyone who aspires to run for the White House.”
Environment New Jersey is a state-based, citizen-supported advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future, representing more than 20,000 dues-paying citizen members.