Both the assembly and senate tomorrow will likely pass what advocacy group Environment New Jersey says is milestone legislation to combat global warming, but Assemblyman Joseph Pennacchio has his doubts about the particulars.
The ultimate aim is fine, says Pennacchio, who doesn’t question the necessity for the state to reduce emissions that cause global warming.
The bill would put a mandatory cap on New Jersey’s global warming emissions and would require the state Department of Environmental Protection to reduce emissions by 2020 to 1990 levels, according to Suzanne Leta Liou, global warming and clean energy advocate for Environment New Jersey. The bill would also require a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050.
“After California, we would be only the second state to pass a cap like this,” said Leta Liou.
The largest source of global warming emissions in the state is carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. Transportation is the chief culprit, followed by electricity and commercial and residential heating.
“We think the bill will start to tackle transportation emissions, but no one solution does it all,” said Leta Liou.
Pennacchio voted against the bill in committee, and he says he’ll vote against it on the floor of the assembly. He said the problem in part is the bill does not spell out how the Department of Environmental Protection would make the reductions. He found the data lacking if not outright absent.
“I went through this with the Highlands Act,” said Pennacchio. “They tell you the ends but they don’t give you the means.”
The assemblyman said he is concerned about measures, including possibly nuclear power, that might replace current energy sources. He said he’s also worried about pocketbook impacts on his constituents such as increases in heating and gas bills.