N.J. Pulls Out Of RGGI, Despite Strong Public Support

Laura DiMugno, Thursday 26 May 2011 - 15:01:53

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has announced that he is pulling the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) at the end of the year, several media outlets have reported.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Christie called RGGI a "gimmicky program that does not work," adding that it is nothing more than a tax on electricity, residents and businesses.

New Jersey's participation in the initiative, a collaborative of Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states that have agreed to cap and reduce CO2 emissions by 10% by 2018, has also drawn opposition from other Republican lawmakers.

State Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington/Camden, issued a statement applauding Christie's decision to remove the state from the initiative.

"RGGI drives up energy costs for consumers at a time when nobody can afford any additional taxes," Allen said in the statement. "Businesses are hit particularly hard, and virtually invites them to pick up and leave New Jersey.

"[T]his is not a debate about whether or not we should protect our environment - we should," Allen continued. "However, I refuse to accept that good environmental policy must come at the expense of families' livelihoods."

Yet despite both Allen's and Christie's expressed concerns for taxpayers, the majority of New Jersey residents continue to support RGGI participation, all costs considered, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by Public Polling Policy and released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

According to the study, 60% of respondents would be willing to pay an additional $0.75 per month on their electric bill in order to cut carbon emissions, which the NRDC says is more than the costs attributed to the state's participation in RGGI.

In addition, while 47% of respondents said pulling out of RGGI would be inconsistent with the governor's stated commitment to clean energy, only 33% said it would be consistent.

In accordance with these results, the New Jersey State Democrats released a statement condemning Christie's decision.

"New polling data shows New Jerseyans overwhelmingly support the goals of RGGI - investing in in-state clean energy solutions, rather than lining the pockets of Big Oil," said New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chairman Bob Smith, D-Middlesex in the statement.

"Residents want us bringing about real energy independence, not just talking about it. Absent the real economic incentives that RGGI could provide, the only incentives being dangled right now are to the oil interests and their suppliers in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela," he added.



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