NJ Looks to Rejoin Climate-Change Group It Help Found

Feb 28, 2018

Officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities are ambitiously working toward rejoining a consortium of states committed to reducing carbon emissions in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions after Gov. Phil Murphy put fellow governors on notice he wanted a seat at the table. His commitment effectively reverses the 2012 withdrawal by his predecessor.

“As a founding member of RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative), New Jersey is eager to rejoin your state as a partner in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the health of residents, and growing the economy in our region,” Murphy said in a letter sent earlier this month to the governors of Delaware, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The 2005 memorandum of understanding that established the initiative requires member states to agree to the admission of another member state.

“As a recognized national leader on environmental protection and as a coastal state, it is imperative that New Jersey resume its rightful place as a leader in combating climate change and sea-level rise,” Catherine R. McCabe, acting DEP commissioner, said. “At the DEP, we are moving forward aggressively with the necessary steps to rejoin RGGI as soon as possible. This process will fully engage all stakeholders and the public and will be conducted with ample outreach and public education.”

Murphy has set a goal of 100 percent clean energy for New Jersey by 2050, shifting from reliance on fossil fuels and other production methods that contribute to climate change toward renewable energy that will strengthen the state’s economy.

“BPU is happy to be a part of the process of rejoining RGGI and ensuring cleaner air in New Jersey and throughout the region,” BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso said.

RGGI is the nation’s first multi-state, market-based cap-and-trade program designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants. Participants allot, grant and transfer carbon allowances through an auction process as an annual carbon-dioxide cap declines. This bolsters more market efficiencies, growth of renewable energy, and technological improvements for power plants.

Proceeds from the auctions are divvied up to states for a variety of programs including energy efficiency assistance for consumers, renewable energy, greenhouse gas abatement and electricity bill assistance. Murphy’s executive order dictates the disbursement of auction proceeds put an emphasis on projects serving communities that are disproportionetly impacted by the effects of environmental degradation and climate change.

In addition to beginning the negotiations for New Jersey’s re-entry into RGGI, the DEP has assembled a team to develop the regulations needed to move the state back into RGGI. The DEP will also schedule a public information meeting in the near future to gather input on state funding priorities for proceeds generated by RGGI auctions. —G.G.S.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.