BURLINGTON CITY – A trio of conservative lawmakers made their case Monday against the clean-air effort known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Sen. Diane Allen, (R-7), Edgewater Park stated that one of the reasons Ocean Spray recently announced it was moving its processing operation to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania was because of the burdensome RGGI-related utility taxes.
She said that Bill Haines, a company board member and cranberry farmer and former Burlington County freeholder, told her that the RGGI tax contributed to the company’s relocation decision.
Allen has signed on as a co-sponoser to legislation introduced by Sen. Michael Doherty, (R-23), Washington Township, to repeal the law.
The two state legislators and Americans for Prosperity leader and former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan criticized the initiative Monday and pushed for action on Doherty’s bill that would repeal certain portions of RGGI.
The idea behind RGGI is that 10 Northeastern states are to use an auction system – selling emissions allowances and investing the proceeds in renewable energy – but its opponents claim it actually hurts economies.
The Doherty bill would keep the language of the state’s Global Warming Response Act that allows for discretionary funding of renewable energy efforts and would transfer to the general fund any unencumbered money in the Global Warming Solutions Fund established under RGGI
The bill, S2250, was introduced last fall and referred to the Environment and Energy Committee. The companion bill in the Assembly is A3147.
Lonegan, who as head of Americans for Prosperity has been waging a campaign for RGGI repeal for some time, contends that states don’t use the auction proceeds for renewable energy but instead use it to close budget gaps.
In addition, Lonegan contends speculators have purchased the so-called RGGI permits to later resell them to power plants for profit, thus forcing the power companies to charge customers more.
Allen said she supports efforts to cap greenhouse gas emissions but by law, not done in secrecy as she contended RGGI encourages.
Addressing the media in front a shuttered restaurant business in downtown Burlington, Allen and Lonegan both said businesses are closing or leaving the state and new ones are choosing not to come to New Jersey because of the RGGI tax. Pennsylvania is not one of the 10 states that signed on to the RGGI effort.
“We absolutely have got to get rid of RGGI,’’ Allen said.
Americans for Prosperity plans on holding additional anti-RGGI press conferences this week, including one in Cape May with Sen. Jeff Van Drew and one in Sussex County with the freeholders there.