TRENTON – The legislature’s challenge to a move by Gov. Chris Christie to pull New Jersey out of a “cap and trade” emissions program made further headway today when the Senate Environment and Energy Committee affirmed that the withdrawal of the state from the initiative stands as a violation of legislative intent.
The Senate Oversight Resolution (SCR-125), co-sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Environment and Energy Committee chairman and state Sen. Bob Smith (D-17), would prevent Christie from formally pulling New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional program by northeastern states to reduce green house gas emission from power plants and factories. The state entered RGGI in 2005 under then-governor Richard Codey (D-27) but was pulled out in 2011 by Christie, who called the initiative “gimmicky.”
“This would make it clear that the legislature wants New Jersey in RGGI and that the pullout was unproper,” said Smith in response to questions about the aim of SCR-125, adding that the measure “by itself does not force [the state back into RGGI], but puts us in the situation where it can be litigated and allow the state to do the right thing.”
Proponents of the state’s involvement in RGGI argue that the program helps New Jersey create jobs and maintain its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the wake of climate change and under legislation like the Global Warming Response Act. Pulling out of RGGI hinders the state’s efforts in meeting those goals, argued Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, at today’s hearing.
“This initiative is critical for job creation and in reestablishing New Jersey’s role in leading green initiatives,” Potosnak said, adding that the governor’s removal of New Jersey from RGGI “violated the public trust.”
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