Despite Record-Breaking Heat and Numerous Bad Air Days, Gov. Christie Vetoes Clean Air Bill

Bill would have continued NJ’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state anti-pollution program
For Immediate Release

TRENTON, N.J. – Today, Gov. Christie again vetoed a bill to continue New Jersey’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – originally a 10-state program designed to reduce harmful power plant pollution, make polluters pay for their emissions, and invest those payments in local clean energy programs.

Gov. Christie pulled the state from the program last December.  The New Jersey Legislature, having received over 60,000 public comments in support of the program, has now twice passed legislation (S1322) to keep New Jersey in RGGI.  The program’s main opponent is the Tea Party-affiliated group Americans for Prosperity – a group funded by out of state fossil fuel interests, including the multi-billionaire Koch Brothers.

“We’re extremely disappointed that, despite unprecedented public support from average New Jerseyans who care about clean air, Gov. Christie chose to side with a small, extreme wing of the Tea Party that is funded by out of state fossil fuel interests,” said Elliott.  “Numerous independent studies have shown that RGGI delivers benefits to the economy and the environment, creating a win-win for every resident of our state.  The governor’s veto today moves us backward on economic growth and environmental protection with one swoop of his pen.”

The governor’s veto comes as New Jersey suffers under record heat and extreme weather conditions.  Already this year, the state has experienced a number of heat waves (3 or more days where temperatures exceed 90 degrees), and temperatures have hit record numbers in Newark, Trenton, and many other towns and cities across the state.  Extreme heat exacerbates New Jersey’s air pollution problems – already some of the worst in the nation.

“The extreme weather we’ve experienced this summer is uncomfortable for all of us. But it’s especially dangerous for the young, the elderly, and those who suffer from asthma and other chronic lung conditions because it makes our bad air pollution even more harmful,” said Elliott.  “By signing this bill, Governor Christie could have cut that air pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants and moved us forward on clean energy.  Instead, he’s put politics before public health and the environment.  The governor’s action today means more air pollution, more fossil fuels, and less clean energy for New Jersey in the long run.”

Earlier this week, Governor Christie signed a bill designed to promote more solar energy for the state, and subsequently touted his leadership on clean energy alternatives for New Jersey.  Soon after, it was announced that his administration will slash funding for clean energy, choosing instead to divert these funds to the state’s general coffers.  On the heels of that announcement, the governor then vetoed the bill to keep New Jersey in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“Actions speak louder than words. Despite recent rhetoric by the Administration, today’s veto signals that the governor is not serious about ending our addiction to fossil fuels,” added Elliott.   “RGGI is our state’s only tool to directly control carbon dioxide emissions from dirty power plants.  This action, coupled with a significant blow to clean energy funding is not the kind of leadership our environment and our clean energy economy need right now.”

“It’s no surprise that the governor vetoed this bill quietly on a Thursday afternoon – hoping no one would notice.  Every legislator in the state has seen very clearly that the program is popular with the people of New Jersey who the governor represents,” said Elliott.  “As much as he wants this issue to go away quietly, this fight is not over.  We’ve announced that we’re taking the Christie Administration to court for ignoring public opinion on RGGI, and we’ll be back in the Legislature this fall urging members to override the governor’s veto.”

A recent report by Environment New Jersey drew on independent analyses to assess the benefits of the RGGI program.  It found that, in New Jersey, RGGI is reducing electricity costs for all residents and businesses, cutting pollution, bringing new revenue into the state, and supporting local jobs.  Further, it found that if New Jersey stayed in the program, these benefits would be significantly increased in the near future, providing more revenue, more jobs, and even greater pollution cuts.  The report, published earlier this year, can be found at https://www.environmentnewjersey.org/reports/nje/benefits-regional-green....  
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