Senate Committee Releases Resolution to Dedicate Energy Funds
The Senate Environment and Energy Committee today released SCR151 (Smith). This resolution amends Constitution to dedicate revenues from societal benefits charge for various energy-related uses established by law today. The dedicated funds would be used for the following purposes: demand side management energy programs; energy efficiency programs; renewable energy programs; manufactured gas plant remediation; nuclear plant decommissioning; energy consumer education programs, etc. The Clean Energy Fund program has always been funded by a surcharge on customers’ gas and electric bills. Every year the program has been in place, the Governor and the legislature has continued the diversion of money that should be used to promote clean energy and weatherization in New Jersey. During the Christie Administration, more than $1.5 billion has been stolen from the fund. New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel released the following statement:
“We support the resolution to constitutionally dedicate Clean Energy Fund money because the legislature must stop stealing from consumers and the environment. We’re also happy to see the amendments change the phase in from 5 to 3 years. These raids have been one of the shameful misuses of budgetary process and arrogance of this Administration. All together this Governor has taken $1.5 billion that save money on our electric bills, reduce pollution, and create jobs. Clean Energy Fund monies were supposed to go toward offshore wind and other renewable energy programs, but instead New Jersey has been left in the wind. We could be helping more households reduce their energy usage and save consumers money with these funds. We need this dedication to put an end to the Governor and legislature robbing the Clean Energy Fund over the next 3 years. We cannot wait five years for this dedication because we have already lost thousands of green jobs and savings for consumers.
“The Clean Energy Fund has become the state’s ATM. Instead of using the money for clean energy and green jobs, the Governor keeps using the money to balance the budget. Christie’s open space funding stole money from the Hazardous Discharge Fund, which cleans up brownfields. To make up for this loss, he’s taking money from climate change programs to pay for brownfields. He is also taking $20 million from the Fund to pay for park salaries. Not only is he rolling back environmental programs but he keeps stealing more and more money; $1.5 billion total. In the latest budget, there is $210 million directly being diverted from the Clean Energy Fund with $53 million of that going towards lighting on governmental buildings and $83 million for New Jersey Transit.
“With all the funding the Governor has diverted from the Clean Energy Fund, we could have created more than 5,000 jobs, resulting in 100 million tons of air pollution reductions over the next couple years, and would have created billions of dollars of economic activity. By raiding the Clean Energy Fund, we dropped from 7th to 24th in energy efficiency in the nation. Energy efficiency and weatherization are some of the most cost effective ways to reduce greenhouse gasses and air pollution. Energy efficiency reduces peak power needs and therefore saves people money because it could double and triple normal power. These are great programs and some of them could be better and be expanded to help more people and create more jobs. However, this can’t happen because they don’t have the funds that keep getting stolen.
“Christie and his Administration has been targeted other environmental programs. He’s also trying to take environmental settlement from Exxon and other settlements. He’s turning the environment into a slush fund. Last year, he even cut funding at the NJDEP by $57 million, while diverting funds to other purposes. The Christie Administration has actually approved over $7 billion in tax subsidies to corporations in addition to $3 billion worth of business tax cuts. He’s also taking money out of recycling programs. While New Jersey residents are feeling the effects of climate change and want to make their homes more resilient, the Governor and the legislature have blocked them from doing so.
“Like previous years, this year’s budget sides with polluters and special interests over clean energy and combating climate change. These raids have been one of the shameful misuses of budgetary process and arrogance of this Administration. All together this Governor has taken $1.5 billion that save money on our electric bills, reduce pollution, and create jobs. We could be helping more households reduce their energy usage and save consumers money with these funds. The Legislature needs to stand up to the Governor and stop these raids on clean energy funding. We support the resolution, SCR151 (Smith), to constitutionally dedicate Clean Energy Fund money because the legislature must stop stealing from consumers and the environment.”