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."
Woodbridge, New Jersey