Trenton, New Jersey (December 17,2018)---- Governor Murphy announced his plan to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative today, a multi-state program establishing limits on carbon pollution from the region’s power plants. The announcement comes after his January 2018 Executive Order directing the administration to re-enter the program. New Jersey is proposing to enter the regional program starting at 18 million tons/CO2 per year.
Current states included in RGGI are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Virginia and New Jersey both now plan to participate.
In response, Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Chapter Director for the Sierra Club said the following:
“It is critical that New Jersey moves forward with reducing greenhouse gases (GHG’s) by rejoining RGGI. We are pleased that Governor Murphy has taken the important step of opening a public comment period on a draft rule, placing a limit on climate-disrupting carbon pollution from power plants, and improving how revenue raised by the program will be invested. It’s imperative New Jersey works closely with the other RGGI states to reduce our GHG emissions due to the current climate crisis we are facing in this country. We have already seen the devastating effects of climate change through superstorms like Sandy. New Jersey is one of the most vulnerable states to climate change and with state and federal rollbacks on climate action, we’re seeing a direct threat to New Jersey’s environment and the safety of its residents.
We must implement the program quickly in order to see immediate benefits. During our previous participation, RGGI created $151 million in economic value and almost 1,800 jobs in our state. We also achieved the greenhouse gas reduction goal of 10 percent in the first three years of the program. However, more must be done to strengthen the current rule. We believe the initial pollution cap of about 18 million tons/CO2 per year should be further reduced.
Additionally, we need to make sure RGGI benefits communities that are disproportionately affected by air pollution and climate change. With almost every county in New Jersey receiving a failing grade by national clean air standards, it’s necessary we ensure reductions of co-pollutants like NOx and SOx in tandem with RGGI to protect the health of our residents. The state should require reductions from dirty backup generators that fall under the minimum size threshold of 25 MW and plants polluting EJ communities, and further overhaul how revenue from allowance sales is spent, with the highest priority given to projects that invest in energy efficiency, clean energy, and job training in historically overburdened and underserved communities.
As of now, there are currently five new power plants and seven new pipeline projects in New Jersey that would impact our efforts to reduce carbon emissions and transition to a clean energy future. Combined, these power plants and pipeline projects could emit more than up to 100 million metric tons of greenhouses gases into our air. The reports from the scientific community this year make it abundantly clear that we can only invest in clean energy going forward, and must do it as quickly as possible. Rejoining RGGI is important but we need to do more. New Jersey should place a moratorium on these projects. If they are eventually allowed to proceed, their climate pollution must be limited directly by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). We must continue to reduce climate pollution in order to help Governor Murphy reach his 100 percent renewable energy goals and stop making the problem worse.”