Broad Range of Stakeholders Call on Northeast Governors, Including Christie, to Improve Successful Clean Energy and Anti-Pollution Program

Strengthening Regional Emissions Compact Would Build on Clean Energy Progress to Date

Environment New Jersey

(Trenton) – New Jersey organizations today joined more than 300 others in calling on Governor Christie and other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic governors to build on progress reducing pollution and promoting clean energy by improving the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  The coalition – which includes environmental and public health organizations, consumer advocates, and clean energy and mainstream businesses – highlighted RGGI’s success to date.  In addition, they called on governors to strengthen the program’s pollution reduction targets and increase local investments in clean energy and energy efficiency measures that benefit the climate, the economy, public health, and energy consumers. 

“More than any time in recent history, the public is focused on the climate impacts of a warming planet,” said Matt Elliott, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment New Jersey.  “Historically, New Jersey has been a leader in tackling carbon pollution, and RGGI has been a key element of New Jersey’s effort to reduce pollution from fossil fuels and shift to clean energy.  Unfortunately, we are missing out on those benefits now, as Governor Christie has pulled us out of the program.  Rejoining RGGI and working with the 9 other states to strengthen it is one of the best ways we can build on our state’s progress on clean energy and on reduce the pollution that causes global warming.”

Officials from nine of the ten RGGI states are currently evaluating options for improving the program as part of a review process established when the program was launched.  Currently, New Jersey is no longer at the table, as Governor Christie abandoned the program in December, 2011.    

“RGGI, as it evolves, is vital to addressing climate change.  New Jersey’s withdrawal from RGGI is sinful, and we call on the Governor to repent and to work with other states to strengthen RGGI for the future,” said Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith.

Independent analysis has shown that RGGI’s impact on the economies of participating states has been positive, adding $151 million to New Jersey’s economy and creating 1,800 jobs.

“New Jersey is missing out on creating new green jobs, economic growth and pollution reductions because the Governor pulled out of RGGI at a time when our  economy  could use a shot in the arm and when people deserve a break on energy costs. We are losing millions of dollars in funding for weatherization and energy efficiency. We are losing out on thousands of jobs and the reduction of millions of tons of pollution. These benefits are going to the other states in the region that are part of RGGI, putting us at an economic disadvantage.  The Governor cannot have a Jersey comeback by pulling out of RGGI,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the NJ Sierra Club.

Initial projections have shown that updating the program’s targets to deliver a 15% reduction in carbon dioxide pollution by 2020 would help address the health impacts of climate change, and would avoid thousands of tons of toxic emissions linked to smog, ground-level ozone, and related health impacts.  The 20% reduction called for in the letter would deliver greater benefits.

Charging power companies for their emissions provides resources to reinvest in making buildings more efficient, promoting clean energy and other public benefit programs, and replacing fossil fuels imports with local spending that benefits consumers and the economy.

“In the absence of stringent national action to cut down on greenhouse gases, regional action is our best hope for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The reduction of CO2 emissions, the hundreds of millions raised for energy efficiency projects, and energy assistance to limited income families proves that RGGI is a vital program and should be maintained and strengthened. New Jersey should rejoin this program and get back to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating clean energy jobs,” said Kerry Butch, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of New Jersey.

“Clean energy is the key to a strong New Jersey economy and a healthy future. We are very concerned that New Jersey’s progress on clean energy has been stunted by the Governor’s decision to leave RGGI. New Jersey needs the RGGI program and we stand with others throughout the Northeast who want the program strengthened. We must rise to the enormous energy challenges we face, not retreat,” said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen Action.

Shannon Baker-Branstetter, Policy Counsel, Energy and Environment for Consumers Union stated: “In New Jersey, RGGI provides essential support for programs that save consumers money, reduce energy consumption, and weatherize homes to be more efficient and comfortable.” 

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