Pallone slams Christie’s decision to withdraw state from RGGI

Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, highlighted the severe environmental and economic consequences of Governor Chris Christie’s (R-NJ) decision to withdraw the State of New Jersey from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

At today’s hearing to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new Clean Power Plan, Pallone made clear that participation in the RGGI program is the most effective way for states like New Jersey to meet the standards set forth in the Clean Power Plan.

Congressman Frank Pallone

Congressman Frank Pallone

He also pointed out that, just last week, under RGGI, the sale of 15.3 million carbon dioxide allowances netted $82 million and set a record high price.

One witness testifying at the hearing, Commissioner Kelly Speakes-Backman of the Maryland Public Service Commission and Chair of the RGGI Board of Directors, highlighted the fact that, in the program’s first three years, RGGI has grown the regional economy, created jobs, helped low-income families in Maryland pay their energy bills and allowed the state’s small businesses install energy efficient upgrades.

“It seems that the program has been tremendously effective in Maryland and other participating states, and that these states will have a leg up when it comes to meeting the EPA standards,” said Pallone.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, announced in June 2014, seeks to cut the amount of carbon pollution produced by power plants by 30% to below 2005 levels by 2030.

RGGI is a cooperative effort among nine New England and Mid-Atlantic states to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. New Jersey joined other states in implementing the program in 2005, but Governor Christie announced that he would withdraw the state from RGGI in 2011.

“According to an analysis by Environment Northeast, since New Jersey withdrew from the RGGI program in 2011, the state has passed up more than $114 million in potential revenue and the state could miss out on an additional $387.1 million through 2020,” Pallone said.

“That’s money that could be used to support energy efficiency upgrades and job creation like it’s doing in Maryland and other participating states,” Pallone said. “New Jerseyans deserve to reap the benefits of this successful, economically efficient program that is reducing carbon emissions and creating jobs in the Northeast.”

Pallone sent a letter to Governor Chris Christie last July urging him to reconsider his decision to withdraw New Jersey from the program. Pallone stressed that remaining in RGGI will help New Jersey comply with new regulations proposed by the EPA.

In response to his withdrawal from RGGI, environmental groups sued Christie, saying that he broke the law by not introducing a proposal to change or repeal the regulations regarding the state’s membership in the program.

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