New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) announced that his state is leaving the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade scheme involving 10 northeastern states. During a press conference, Christie called the RGGI a “failure,” and claimed it is “not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future.” He described the RGGI as “nothing more than a tax on electricity, a tax on our residents and on businesses with no discernible effect on our environment.”
The RGGI released a statement, stating that the initiative “will continue.” Over $700 million have been invested region-wide in “the clean energy economy” thanks to the RGGI, the statement pointed out. The RGGI has also saved consumers money and created jobs, the statement said.
The environmental groups, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) outline the benefits of the RGGI. Since enacted, the RGGI brought over $35 million of investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to New Jersey. Region-wide greenhouse gas emissions have decreased 30 percent. The region’s economy has grown by over $2.6 billion. Energy costs are 15 to 30 percent lower, partly due to RGGI-funded energy efficiency programs. Energy efficiency programs funded by the RGGI through 2010 created almost 18,000 jobs a year.
“In pulling out of RGGI, New Jersey would be turning its back on a program that has proven to be effective in helping to move our State toward a clean energy future,” said Barbara Brummer, New Jersey State Director, TNC. “We urge the governor to reconsider his position, and we encourage New Jersey citizens to contact their state legislators to urge continuation of RGGI.”
“Governor Christie is putting the profits of out-of-state oil interests over the well-being of his own citizens,” said Dale Bryk, Director of the Energy Program at the NRDC. The Americans for Prosperity recently launched radio and television ads attacking the RGGI. Koch Industries is a major contributor to AFP.
A new poll by Public Policy Polling found that 74 percent of likely voters want New Jersey to invest in renewable energy sources rather than import fossil fuels. Here are findings:
- 60 percent said they would be willing to pay an extra 75 cents a month on their energy bill, an amount that is higher than estimated costs, to reduce air pollution from power plants and invest in renewable energy
- 61 percent said they would support a program that mitigated climate change while creating jobs and cultivating a clean energy economy in New Jersey
- 69 percent said they think generating solar and offshore wind energy in the state is a better way for New Jersey to get electricity than burning coal
The poll also found that 47 percent said pulling out of RGGI would be inconsistent with the Governor’s stated commitment to the clean energy sector as a way to rebuild New Jersey’s economy and workforce, while only 33 percent thought it would be consistent.