(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Andrew Zwicker, and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to require New Jersey's full participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cleared the Assembly Environment panel on Thursday.
The bill would clarify the intent of existing law, and specifically require the State's full participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a cooperative effort among nine states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Governor Chris Christie withdrew from the program early in his first term.
"From the very beginning we believed that entering into agreements with other states will further the purposes of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the "Global Warming Response Act," said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). "The Governor's withdrawal from RGGI blatantly disregarded the importance of our participation in RGGI is to reducing greenhouse gas emission in our state. A return to the RGGI pact with full participation will get New Jersey back on the right environmental track."
"There are many benefits to our full participation in RGGI," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset). "New Jersey would benefit, as other states have, from a carbon dioxide emissions allowance trading program with incentives that will reduce emissions at their sources and the generation and emission of greenhouse gases. Reducing carbon emissions translates to less pollution and cleaner air for future generations."
"Backing out of the RGGI almost eight years ago was not the best path to take for New Jersey," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Funding consumer benefit purposes would have resulted in reduced costs to New Jersey consumers, decreased energy use, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and substantial and tangible benefits to the energy-using business sector. Other states have benefitted from their participation. Why shouldn't New Jersey?"
Commonly referred to as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the "RGGI" implementing law was enacted to further the purposes of the "Global Warming Response Act" (GWRA). The RGGI implementing law partially implements the policies of the GWRA by creating an emissions auction and trading mechanism to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide.
Current law (P.L.2007, c.340) recognizes the State's participation in RGGI by setting forth the parameters to be followed for allowance auctions, creating the "Global Warming Solutions Fund," and statutorily dedicating all the proceeds received from the sale, exchange or other conveyance of allowances through a greenhouse gas emissions allowance trading program to the fund.
The bill will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.