Hey, Garden Staters, New Jerseyans, residents of Paterson, Princeton, Newark, Millville, Atlantic City and all of New Jersey’s beautiful cities and towns:
The country’s first and most successful program for cleaning up global-warming pollution from power plants, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) needs your support today. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) is holding a public hearing in Trenton on Governor Christie’s plan to pull the state out of RGGI – the wildly effective, pollution-cutting, clean-energy investment plan that 10 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states adopted five years ago. Because the courts recently forced Governor Christie to follow the law and give the public a say in this decision, today we all get to offer reasons New Jersey should again be a part of this clean energy program. (That includes NRDC; we'll be submitting written comments as well.) You can make a difference in our kids’ future and their and our own economic well-being by speaking up for this pioneering program.
In support of efforts to keep New Jersey in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, our friends at Moms Clean Air Force are organizing a play-in for climate action today in Trenton, beginning at 10:30. Check out their Facebook page for details. (These photos are from Moms' recent play-in in Washington DC. photo credit: Ted Fink)
How successful are we talking about? Well, since it came into being in 2009, RGGI has:
- Helped cut climate-change pollution from power plants in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic by more than 30 percent.
- Created more than 23,000 job-years in our region.
- Put in place energy efficiency measures that will save consumers more than $1.8 billion on their energy bills.
According to an analysis by Regional Economic Models, Inc., over the next 10 years, the recently strengthened RGGI cap on carbon pollution will likely bring states an additional $4 billion in revenue. That, in turn, will generate $8.7 billion in economic growth, and 132,000 job-years of employment. Talk about a win-win-win for everybody!
RGGI not only does great things for our atmosphere and our economy, it’s also an ideal tool for helping New Jersey comply with its new obligations under President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). That plan requires states to reduce their total power-plant carbon emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels. Governor Christie and a NJ DEP spokesperson have mistakenly stated that New Jersey needs to do nothing further to comply with the CPP. But EPA modeling suggests the state will have to cut emissions significantly below business-as-usual scenarios to meet its targets. Should the state fail to come up with its own compliance plan, such as re-entering RGGI, the EPA can require the state to implement the generic one EPA devises for every state in the country. New Jersey’s past involvement in RGGI, from 2009 to 2011, shows the program works for the Garden State. Why not go for the one you know succeeds on many fronts?
Taking a step back into Jersey’s history on RGGI, here’s a review of why today’s hearing is taking place. This spring, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that NJ DEP broke the law when it told power plants in the state, in late 2011, that they no longer needed to comply with RGGI regulations limiting dangerous climate-changing pollution. The court ordered the NJ DEP to hold public hearings; here we are. (NRDC and the advocacy group Environment New Jersey initiated this suit.)
Had NJ DEP started hearings two-and-a-half years ago, the agency and its ultimate boss, Governor Christie, might have heard about how widespread support for RGGI is across the state. (In fact, since Christie illegally pulled New Jersey out, both houses of the state legislature have twice voted to require the state’s participation in RGGI. Not surprisingly, Christie vetoed that legislation both times.)
Had hearings been held already, perhaps Governor Christie and the NJ DEP might have heard from constituents who are benefitting directly from the state’s budding clean-energy industry, an industry RGGI can spur further, through investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. They could have heard from residents whose kids have asthma and who want Governor Christie to help make New Jersey a healthier place to live, as well as a hotbed of clean-energy jobs. Governor Christie might have understood more fully how to prepare the state for the climate-related disaster that was Hurricane Sandy, which killed 34 state residents and caused billions of dollars in damages. A state with that legacy should not blithely dismiss a carbon-emissions-reduction program with such a track record of success.
To bring home the message of how important New Jersey’s participation in RGGI is for our kids’ future, our friends at the Moms Clean Air Force are organizing a play-in for climate action today in Trenton. They want to hammer home the message that RGGI is not only good for the state; it’s good for their families’ health and their children’s future.
So, come along to the hearing and the play-in. Make your voice, and your kids’ voices, heard. New Jersey needs RGGI. Your voice can help keep it in place.