Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

NJ Governor Sued for Abandoning Greenhouse Gas Initiative

NJ Governor Sued for Abandoning Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Natural Resources Defense Council

Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection failed to follow legal due process and safeguard the economic and health interests of New Jersey citizens when pulling the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)—a 10-state compact that is cutting harmful air pollution from power plants and shifting investments to clean energy, according to a lawsuit filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Environment New Jersey.

“RGGI offers Garden State residents enormously popular benefits—cleaner air, healthier kids, homegrown jobs, lower energy bills and more money for the state,” said NRDC senior attorney Luis Martinez. “It’s no surprise that a program like this has strong support in the statehouse and among New Jersey residents. Governor Christie should heed their call and stick with the program, rather than listen to out-of-state interests in the dirty fuel industry that are calling for him to drop out.”

“Governor Christie unilaterally made his decision to leave RGGI—without taking any input from stakeholders or the public,” said Matt Elliott, clean energy advocate for Environment New Jersey. “As we contend today, his actions are not only bad public policy, but also illegal. The people of New Jersey have spoken out overwhelmingly in support of RGGI—to date, over 50,000 New Jerseyans have called or written their elected officials urging them to stand up for RGGI . And the Legislature has passed a series of measures affirming their support of the program. And yet, the governor refuses to listen, and insists on ignoring the people and their elected representatives. We won’t stand by and let this happen.”

The groups filed the lawsuit today in the Superior Court, Appellate Division in Trenton against the New Jersey DEP for effectively dissolving the program, which has strong support from the public and the state legislature, without the open discussion that state law requires. The New Jersey Administrative Procedure Act requires the Governor and his administration to provide notice of their intention to repeal a regulation like this, as well as give the public reasonable opportunity to comment before finally deciding whether or not to move forward with a repeal. Given this, the groups contend that the program is still law, and the administration, and New Jersey utilities, must abide by it.

In May 2011, Governor Christie announced an end to New Jersey’s participation in RGGI. The following week the state DEP Commissioner declared the state’s withdrawal from initiative would be effective at the end of the calendar year. The governor’s actions, closely followed by DEP’s, effectively repealed the state’s participation in the program, while ignoring the requirements of the state’s Administrative Procedure Act to provide New Jersey residents and businesses with an opportunity to shape the Administration’s position by publicly describing the program’s benefits and countering the claims of oil industry-funded opponents.

In the past year, the state legislature has twice voted to keep New Jersey participating in RGGI. The first bill that passed was vetoed by the governor last summer. The second bill was passed again last month and is currently on Governor Christie’s desk.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a program between 10 states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic that is reducing harmful air pollution from power plants, making polluters pay for their emissions, and investing those payments in clean energy projects that grow the economy and further cut fossil fuel dependence. In doing so, it is generating revenue for the state, lowering energy costs for consumers, and creating jobs in the energy efficiency and clean energy sectors that can’t be shipped overseas. It achieves these goals by ensuring that residents send less of the money they pay for electricity out of their states to import coal and other fossil fuels. Instead, more of it goes back into their local communities to make homes, offices and factories more energy efficient, and invest in solar and wind energy.

Study after study shows RGGI is working just as it was designed. Region-wide, it has created 16,000 job-years’ worth of work (one job year is one year’s worth of work). It has generated more than $1.6 billion of economic activity, and has helped achieve a 23 percent reduction in harmful air pollution that inflames cardiovascular health problems in adults and children and contributes to climate change.

During New Jersey’s participation in RGGI, the sale of pollution permits has generated $159 million in local benefits, including $125 million for the state to invest in local, job-creating energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. As a result, it created 1,800 job-years worth of work.

These numbers could have been even more impressive—as they were in other participating states—had Gov. Christie not diverted more than half of those funds to plug budget holes. A recent report by Environment New Jersey shows that, by staying in RGGI and working with participating states to further improve the program, New Jersey could realize up to $680 million in additional revenue for clean energy projects.

New Jersey voters strongly support RGGI. A poll conducted for NRDC last year showed that the large majority of voters supported the goals of the program.

Visit EcoWatch's AIR page for more related news on this topic.

 

air
Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth on April 2, 2012 in Western Australia. James D. Morgan / Getty Images News

By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge

In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less

Trending

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less
New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less