New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tried to take all sides of the climate change debate yesterday by acknowledging that climate change is real, agreeing that human activity contributes to it, and then withdrawing New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that tries to reduce it.  He argued that RGGI imposes unnecessary costs on consumers, but when pressed to quantify how much consumers will save by his actions, the Governor conceded that consumers should not expect much in the way of savings.


Under RGGI, 10 Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states have agreed to require power plants that burn fossil fuels to buy pollution allowances for their carbon emissions.  Utilities that cut their emissions below a specified cap may sell or trade their excess carbon allowances in online auctions held four times a year.  Proceeds from the auctions -- about $860 million so far -- can be used to finance renewable energy initiatives.  The program has provided $29.6 million for 12 large-scale energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in New Jersey alone.

Governor Christie acknowledged that humans are causing climate change.  “I’ve always said that climate change is real and it’s impacting our state,” he said.  But the Governor said that RGGI is not an effective solution.  He asserted that New Jersey is reducing emissions by using more natural gas and less coal to generate electricity, not because of RGGI.  He also said that he opposed building any new coal-fired power plants in New Jersey.

The nine other states that remain in RGGI reiterated their support for the program in the wake of Governor Christie';s decision.  New York State officials called the initiative “extremely successful” in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping finance clean energy projects.  The Commissioner of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation issued a statement that “investment of RGGI auction proceeds in energy efficiency improvements is leading to savings for thousands of New York residents and businesses and to the creation of thousands of high-quality jobs.”

Governor Christie's main argument against RGGI is that it imposes unnecessary costs on consumers.  "RGGI," the Governor said, "does nothing more than tax electricity, tax our citizens, tax our businesses, with no discernible or measurable impact upon our environment.”  But when Governor Christie was asked how much consumers could expect to save as a result of his decision to withdraw from RGGI, he replied, "I don’t want to overplay that because we’re not talking about a huge difference."


John Howley 
Woodbridge, New Jersey

Mark P.
5/30/2011 11:31:45 pm

Let's face it, the Gov is hell bent on reversing anything put in place by previous administrations! Every time he does, he is rewarded with media coverage as the "Republican of the Future"and and courted by tea-types as the second coming. I do wish with all my heart that he would run in 2012!!! He would be in NJ less and that would be good! I wish some one would let the bluster out of this windbag!!!!!


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