Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Enviros claim NJ lost out on millions by exiting RGGI

                                                                                             Watchdog.org graphic
New Jersey could have reaped $114 million for clean energy projects had Governor Christie not yanked the state almost three years ago from a multi-state program designed to reduce greenhouse gases, claims a report released by an environmental advocacy group today.

Scott Fallon writes in The Record:

"The report comes as the Christie administration is finalizing its formal withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as RGGI, after environmental groups had lobbied intensely this summer for the governor to reconsider.

"We wanted to put some more firm numbers on what New Jersey is losing out on if it is not part of this program," said Doug O'Malley of Environment New Jersey, which released the report in conjunction with Environment Northeast. "This is the real-world cost of leaving RGGI."

Fallon quotes Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, saying that RGGI "amounted to nothing more than a tax on business" and "failed to achieve its goals of lowering the use of carbon emissions and creating green jobs."

"RGGI was formed more than a decade ago by 10 Eastern states to curb the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from power companies. The gas works like a blanket to trap heat in the atmosphere, which increases air and ocean temperatures, melts polar ice, raises sea levels and produces more intense storms. Sea levels have risen along the New Jersey coast about a foot and a half over the past century and are expected to rise another foot by 2050.

"Under RGGI, power companies must buy credits for every ton of carbon their plants emit while generating electricity. RGGI has raised $1.8 billion for the states, including $113 million for New Jersey before Christie pulled out.

"In its report, Environment Northeast says New Jersey is projected to forgo an additional $387 million from now until 2020 if it does not rejoin RGGI.

The report touted several clean energy projects that New Jersey's RGGI money helped fund, including a solar panel system at William Paterson University that was said to be the largest ever built at an institute of higher learning. It also said that Christie diverted $75 million of RGGI revenue slated for clean energy projects to balance the state budget in 2010.

SCR-125, a resolution that challenges the legitimacy of the state's withdrawal from RGGI will be heard in Trenton on Monday at 10 a.m. in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. The committee will meet in Room 10, Third Floor, State Houses Annex.

Read the full story here 

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