As Sandy Anniversary Nears, NJ Urged To Clean Up Climate-Altering Power Plant Pollution, Get Back In RGGI
Trenton—Environment New Jersey, accompanied by representatives from clean energy businesses and others, urged New Jersey to clean up climate-altering pollution from power plants and rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Advocates testified before the Assembly Utilities Committee and Chairman Upendra Chivukula (D-17), who held a public hearing to discuss the threat of global warming. Environment New Jersey Director Doug O’Malley released the following statement:
“In late September, the world’s leading climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, issued a clear warning to the world. Global warming is happening now. Human activity — in particular, burning fossil fuels — is the chief cause. And the impacts are accelerating — including more fuel for extreme weather, such as last October’s Hurricane Sandy, which damaged more than 300,000 homes across the state, caused as much as $30 billion in losses, and killed more than 30 people.
“If we do not rapidly and substantially reduce global warming pollution, we can expect dangerous and potentially irreversible consequences, including more extreme weather, longer heat waves, disrupted agriculture and ocean acidification. Rising seas alone could flood trillions of dollars worth of private property and public infrastructure in the Newark-New York metropolitan area within the century. The more pollution the world emits, the worse the problem will get.
“New Jersey must do its part to reduce emissions of climate-altering pollution. Gov. Christie has put climate action in New Jersey in a deep freeze and has taken us backwards. Regardless of party, our state leaders have an obligation to act to protect our children and grandchildren from the worst impacts of global warming.
“New Jersey should take three main steps. First, New Jersey should follow through with the Global Warming Response Act, set a goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 2006 levels by 2050 – based on scientific evidence on the need to reduce pollution.
“Second, New Jersey should rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a pioneering agreement to limit carbon pollution from power plants. In February, nine other Northeastern states announced a new agreement to make deeper cuts in power plant carbon emissions.
“RGGI works. By the end of the decade, the program will prevent 86 to 91 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution. That is the equivalent annual emissions from 16 million cars.
“RGGI is helping to protect the world from the impacts of climate change. But it is also having important local benefits. It will provide participating states $3.8 billion in revenue to invest in clean energy solutions through 2020, which will reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, increase economic output by $8.2 billion and create 123,000 job years of employment.
“However, New Jersey is sitting on the sidelines, as Governor Chris Christie has pulled our state out of the program. As a result, we are missing out on the important environmental and economic benefits that our neighbors are achieving through their participation in RGGI.
“Rejoining RGGI is one of the best ways that New Jersey can reduce the pollution that causes global warming, while preparing the state for upcoming federal rules to clean up power plants.
“Finally, state leaders at all levels should support federal action. President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, announced in June, will:
- Limit carbon pollution from new and existing power plants;
- Invest in energy efficiency;
- Build more renewable energy;
- Support affected communities; and
- Rebuild U.S. leadership internationally.
“The president’s pledge to cut carbon pollution from new and existing power plants is particularly important. America’s power plants are its single largest source of carbon pollution - responsible for 40 percent of emissions nationwide. More than 3.2 million Americans submitted public comments last year in support of the president setting limits on carbon pollution from power plants, including tens of thousands of New Jerseyans.
“The President’s action to clean up power plants is critical because New Jersey can’t tackle this problem alone. But we also need state leadership on climate, which Gov. Christie has failed to provide.”