TRENTON – The state Legislature handed environmentalists two victories last week by banning a controversial natural gas drilling technique and affirming support for New Jersey’s participation in a regional program designed to reduce the production of greenhouse gases.
By banning hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” New Jersey will have cleaner water and protected forested ecosystems. “By passing this bill the Legislature has protected New Jersey’s drinking water for future generations and sent a clear message to other states that we need to ban fracking because it is too dangerous,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club. “The toxic pollution from fracking could destroy the Delaware River and by taking a stand New Jersey is saying we want to save the River and protect our waterways.”
The Assembly and Senate passed legislation regarding New Jersey’s involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that is headed to the Governor’s desk. A4108 prohibits New Jersey from leaving the RGGI and resolution ACR195 affirms the Legislature’s support of and commitment to the program. Leaving RGGI, as Governor Christie has called for, will cause New Jersey to lose jobs and increase pollution in New Jersey’s air according to the Sierra Club.
“By passing these bills, the Legislature has acted to protect New Jersey’s environment and green economy and to prevent the Governor from pulling out of RGGI and abandoning the funding from RGGI,” said Tittel.
RGGI is an agreement signed by the ten northeast states to cut carbon emissions from electrical generation power plants. Emissions would be cut through a surcharge on carbon pollution from the electrical generation plants as well as mandating a 10 percent cut in carbon pollution from the plants. The concept of RGGI is to give utilities and others an economic incentive to move towards cleaner power. The surcharge works out to be less than one half of one percent on our energy bills. The average household in New Jersey sees an approximately $6 a year increase on their energy bill because of RGGI, according to the Sierra Club. The money that is collected from RGGI goes out to help the environment, expand renewable energy infrastructure, and help middle class families save on their electric bills.