TRENTON – State officials cited a weak market for carbon dioxide allowances to support the Christie Administration’s decision to pull out of a regional program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but an environmental group blasted the governor for undermining the market.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a multi-state program that aims to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment by limiting the amount of emissions from electric power plants and selling “allowances” through periodic auctions.
Less than 18 percent of the carbon dioxide allowances offered for the current compliance period and none of the allowances for the next compliance period were sold at last week’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction, continuing a downward trend for demand according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. In four of the last five quarterly auctions, not all of the allowances offered were sold; in June, less than 30 percent sold.
“Climate change is real and it’s impacting our state, but RGGI is not the answer,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.
The cost of RGGI allowances was never high enough to change behavior and drive different choices, according to the Christie Administration.
The New Jersey Sierra Club argues that the program has been effective and blames the governor’s decision to pull out for undermining the market for allowances.
“The Governor is deliberately undermines the RGGI market and then he says RGGI does not go far enough,” said Jeff Tittel, director the New Jersey Sierra Club. “There is only one word to describe this ‘Chutzpah’ because this is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy.”
According to the New Jersey Sierra Club, the state has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent and is well on target to meeting the longer-term goal of 25 percent reduction by 2030. RGGI is achieving its goals with global warming pollution down 15-30 percent since RGGI was launched, due in part to its programs, according to organization officials.
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