It’s official: We have news from the New Jersey DEP that Gov. Murphy has notified the governors in RGGI – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – that New Jersey is rejoining the agreement. From a letter sent last week to governors of the 9 RGGI govs in the mid-Atlantic and New England:
“As a founding member of RGGI, New Jersey is eager to rejoin your state as a partner in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the health of residents, and growing the economy in our region.”
RGGI (commonly pronounced “Reggie”) is a 2005 memorandum of understanding requiring member states to agree to the admission of another state as member, which is why Murphy’s letter is important. Murphy has instructed both the state DEP and the Board of Public Utilities to open discussions with the member states **
Chris Christie: The ex-Gov pulled out of RGGI early in his first term, in 2012, calling it “gimmicky.” Offered no solutions to address his complaints, or improve it, provided no solutions to make RGGI more productive. He just pulled the state out. During his two-term tenure and his run-up to a failed White House run, Christie held several positions about climate change – first saying humans are affecting it , then pandering to the base running for president claiming there’s no crisis in the planetary temperature rise each year, and as Gov repeatedly vetoing Democratic bills to restore New Jersey’s participation in RGGI to do anything about it.
Clean: The Murphy Administration has set a goal of 100% clean energy for New Jersey by 2050, which means a shift from fossil fuels and other production methods that contribute to global warming, toward renewable energy that will also strengthen the state’s economy and create jobs.
How does it work: RGGI is the nation’s first multi-state, market-based cap-and-trade program designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants. Participants allocate, award and transfer carbon allowances through an auction process as an annual carbon-dioxide cap declines. This encourages more market efficiencies, development of renewable energy, and technological improvements for power plants.
Proceeds from the auctions are disbursed to states for a variety of programs including energy efficiency assistance for consumers, renewable energy, greenhouse gas abatement and electricity bill assistance. As directed in the Governor’s executive order, allocation of auction proceeds will include an emphasis on projects that serve communities that are disproportionality impacted by the effects of environmental degradation and climate change.
“As a recognized national leader on environmental protection and as a coastal state, it is imperative that New Jersey resume its rightful place as a leader in combating climate change and sea-level rise. At the DEP, we are moving forward aggressively with the necessary steps to rejoin RGGI as soon as possible. This process will fully engage all stakeholders and the public, and will be conducted with ample outreach and public education.”
— DEP Acting Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe
“BPU is happy to be a part of the process of rejoining RGGI and ensuring cleaner air in New Jersey and throughout the region.”
— BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso
** The RGGI states: Delaware, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island & Vermont.