Murphy Puts NJ Back into RGGI to Fight Climate Change and Support Green Jobs
Today Governor Murphy is signing an Executive Order to put New Jersey back into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a ten-state regional compact to reduce climate change, air pollution and fund clean energy projects. Governor Christie pulled us out of RGGI without consulting the Legislature in August of 2015. The other participating RGGI states are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. RGGI worked by helping to create almost 1,800 jobs and reducing pollution. New Jersey has missed out on over $100 million of RGGI funds and another $500 million if we stay out of RGGI.
“This is a great day for New Jersey. Governor Murphy is starting the process to put us back into RGGI. This is hopefully just the beginning of many days where we move forward on climate change and clean energy. People in our state have seen the impacts of climate change firsthand and demand action. Rejoining RGGI is the first step towards a greener future. RGGI worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 20 million tons and created 1,800 green jobs in the state. The money collected from RGGI will help environmental programs, expand renewable energy, create jobs, reduce greenhouse gases, and help middle class families save money on their electric bills,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Exiting the program has caused New Jersey to lose jobs, increase pollution, and fail to combat climate change. We were there seven years ago with only two other groups fighting for RGGI in New Jersey. Now everyone is here supporting it but back then it was a tough battle. Now we can go forward with the benefits of the program to make us cleaner and greener.”
A report by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners found that New Jersey’s participation in RGGI created $151 million in economic value and almost 1,800 jobs in our state. Throughout the region, RGGI saved customers $1.1 billion on their electric bills and $174 million on gas bills, offsetting the $912 million paid by customers. RGGI’s energy efficiency programs helped keep $765 million in regional economy instead of going to out of state fossil fuel interests, including natural gas and coal.
“RGGI worked and New Jersey has been missing out on the environmental and economic benefits that the other states have reaped. When New Jersey participated in the program, the state achieved the RGGI greenhouse gas reduction goal of 10% in the first three years. RGGI generated $700 million for investment in clean energy and energy efficiency and created 16,000 new jobs since the program started. New York is investing $300 million in a clean energy bank to give out loans to businesses with revenue from the RGGI program,” said Jeff Tittel. “A lot has changed since Christie pulled us out of RGGI. Once we rejoin, we need to work alongside other states to modernize and update the initiative.”
Governor Christie clearly violated duties required of DEP, established by the Global Warming Response Act, when he pulled us out of RGGI. When the Governor pulled out of RGGI he violated the law. The rule clearly violates legislative intent, the RGGI law, and the Global Warming Response Act. DEP does not cite any legal authority in which they actually can pull out of RGGI through rulemaking. DEP is violating the Administrative Procedures Act as they do not make any attempt to quantify or describe how pulling out of RGGI impacts socioeconomics, jobs, or smart growth. They have not made the proper findings to justify these rules pulling out of RGGI. We believe the DEP is violating the law by pulling out of RGGI through this rule making process. What they are doing violates the Global Warming Response Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.
“Christie removed us from RGGI because of his political national ambitions. Instead of implementing adaptation and mitigation planning and reducing carbon pollution, Christie rolled back policies that reduce climate change pollution and promote clean energy alternatives. Since taking office, the Christie administration has raided over $1.5 billion from different clean energy funding programs, and at least $63 million dollars of that came from RGGI. The second year he stole another $46 million to balance the budget. In the past, RGGI funds were used to fund the DEP Office of Climate Change, which has been eliminated, and New Jersey’s work on adaptation and mitigation,” said Jeff Tittel. “Now, Governor Murphy is reversing the damage done by Christie by putting us back into this important program.”
With the Trump Administration’s constant rollbacks of environmental regulations and denial of climate change, it’s more important than ever that New Jersey creates strong environmental goals. Governor Murphy has strong environmental and clean energy goals and rejoining RGGI is just the beginning. He wants New Jersey to transition to clean energy, fight climate change, focus on environmental justice and protect our state’s water and water resources.
“Not only is it good for our state but rejoining RGGI also sends a message to the Trump Administration. It’s up to the states to work together to reduce greenhouse gasses because the fossil fool in the White House won’t. We must protect our environment, reduce carbon pollution, and move our state forward economically. RGGI is a win-win for New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Rejoining RGGI is the first step in fighting climate change in New Jersey. We need to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and focus on solar and wind power. We can work with other states to make RGGI stronger and improve air quality for the entire region. We need to stand together and fight against climate change.”