Local Citizens Rally For Clean Air Program

For Immediate Release

Call on Legislators to Protect  RGGI, a popular anti-pollution, pro-clean energy program

(RIDGEWOOD, NJ) – Today, citizens and environmental groups gathered to demonstrate public support for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  RGGI is a 10-state program that caps power plant emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), requires polluters to pay for their emissions, and invests those payments in clean energy.  The Christie Administration is working to dismantle the program, and those assembled called on local legislative leaders to block the governor’s attempts and keep the state in RGGI.

“RGGI is a program that works,” said Dan DeRosa, grassroots organizer with Environment New Jersey.  “RGGI has cut harmful power plant pollution, supported thousands of jobs, and promoted clean-energy solutions to some of our biggest environmental problems.  With so many benefits, Governor Christie’s rollback of RGGI would be a big step in the wrong direction.  We’re here today to urge our elected officials to stop the governor’s misguided actions and keep New Jersey in the program.”

At the event, citizens asked local legislators – Senator Kevin O’Toole, Assemblyman Scott Rumana, and Assemblyman David Russo (all of Legislative district 40) – to support legislation that would require the state to stay in the program.  The three had previously voted with the governor in opposition to RGGI.

“We are here today to call on the legislature to stand up for the people of New Jersey, our environment, and green jobs here in our state by supporting RGGI. RGGI has worked. It has helped to create 1,700 jobs in our state while reducing green house gases at the same time. In a state like New Jersey who has poor air quality and the state of the economy it is important to stay in RGGI for our environment and economic future. The Governor instead is siding with the coal industry and the Koch Brothers over the lungs of the people of New Jersey and our economy,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.  

The event today formally launched a campaign aimed at channeling local citizen frustration over the proposed rollback.  Citizens throughout District 40 have pledged to speak out in support of the program over the coming months. 

“I support RGGI because it provides real economic incentives to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, while simultaneously investing in clean energy solutions critical to our future,” said Matt Smith, local resident and volunteer organizer with 350.org, an international grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.

“Students around the state are working together for a clean energy future and it's time that state elected officials start to do the same,” said Amanda Nesheiwat, Ramapo college student and chairperson of the Secaucus Environmental Committee.  “Gatherings like this rally are making this movement stronger and our voices heard.”

In announcing his opposition to the program, Governor Christie characterized RGGI as an economic burden.  But a recent independent economic analysis shows that RGGI has added $151 million in value to New Jersey’s economy, and has supported over 1,700 local New Jersey jobs, even as the state’s overall economy was shrinking.  In addition, the analysis shows that, because of RGGI-funded clean energy investments, electric customers are saving money on utility bills.  Residents, businesses, and industry will all realize energy cost savings as a direct result of RGGI.

“The FACTS are that RGGI has been a net positive for NJ: more jobs, cleaner air, and funding to support clean energy projects,” said Harriet Shugarman, executive director of Climate Mama, and a member of North Jersey Public Policy Network.  “Why is our Governor trying to take away one of the few ‘tools’ [RGGI] in our State ‘toolkit’ that actually helps fights for and create cleaner air for our children?”

Indeed, the governor’s action on RGGI is just one of many attempts to scale back environmental and clean energy programs under the guise of addressing economic woes.

“The Governor's withdrawal from RGGI, in concert with his Energy Master Plan and NJDEP's Waiver Rule provision, signal a methodical dismantling of clean energy policy and environmental regulation that will have grave and irreversible impacts to our water supply,” said Elliott Ruga, policy analyst and campaign coordinator for the New Jersey Highlands Coalition.

“Combating climate change means cleaner air, greener jobs and a securer nation,” said David Pringle, campaign director for the NJ Environmental Federation.  “RGGI's a key part of that -- providing funding for clean renewables and energy efficiency, acting locally while thinking globally, and setting the precedent for national solutions. It's not perfect, what is?, but we need to fix it not kill it. You can't say no to RGGI without viable alternatives. And the opposition offers none unless you define viable as New York and Pennsylvania profits at the expense of Bergen County's drinking water, increased flooding and domestic and foreign insecurity!”

In New Jersey alone, RGGI revenue has supported clean energy projects that offset the emissions of roughly 20,000 New Jersey households.

Over 10,000 citizens have written or called the governor’s office to express support for RGGI.  As the governor pressed ahead anyway, thousands more have called on their local legislators to block the governor’s move and keep the state in the program.