Friday, July 27, 2012

RGGI Redux: Christie's latest smackdown; Enviros livid

Graphic credit: Grist

For the second straight year, Gov. Chris Christie has rejected an attempt by Democrats in the state Legislature to return New Jersey to RGGI ("Reggie").

Christie yesterday vetoed S-1322 which would have overturned his May 2011 decision to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a 10-state cooperative that channels the receipts of a carbon tax on power plants into energy-efficiency and energy-saving projects. RGGI advocates say the program not only benefits the environment and creates green jobs.

The legislation was virtually identical to a bill that Christie vetoed last August. The Democrats did not have the votes to override that veto, so they passed the new bill which he, predictably, has again spiked.

Although expected, environmental organizations reacted to the environmental news with fresh outrage.

“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 Environment New Jersey's Matt 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.”

A NJ Sierra Club statement also picked up the catering-to-the-right-wing theme.

“The Governor’s veto today shows his continued commitment to the Koch Brothers, big coal, and his national Republican agenda rather than his commitment to the people of New Jersey, our environment, and green jobs. Now we need the New Jersey Legislature to stand up to the Governor by overriding this veto protecting our environment and economy,” said Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel

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In his veto message, the governor said:

“RGGI has failed to create economic incentives for fossil fuel-fired electric generators to limit greenhouse gases. Energy producers, accordingly, were not incentivized to use lower carbon-based fuels, improve emission controls, or increase efficiencies in production, Indeed, RGGI did nothing more than impose a tax on electricity to be borne by New Jersey's overburdened taxpayers and ratepayers who already pay some of the highest energy costs in the country. Instead of increasing costs on New Jersey's ratepayers unnecessarily, real change must be addressed on a national and international scale.”

“My veto of this bill was never in doubt. Rather than devote time to working with me in a bipartisan 
fashion of the still unresolved critical issues that affect News Jersey's taxpayers, the Legislature instead chose to present me with a replica bill advancing a futile policy.”

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