State withdrawing from RGGI by year’s end

Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday the state will withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and that he believes in manmade climate change to some degree.

As reported Wednesday on State Street Wire, the governor said that “climate change is real and impacting our state” and that there is undeniable evidence of rising temperatures and it’s necessary to understand its causes.

He said in the last few months he has met with experts to discuss the issue and done reading on his own.  “I’m certainly not a scientist,’’ he said and does not pretend to understand it all.

He said it is time to defer to experts and that we as a society are just having an understanding of humanity’s role in the problem.

“Our analysis of RGGI reveals that this program is not effective.’’

He said trends indicate there will be no significant secondary market for allowances and the whole system is not working as intended.

Carbon emissions are already below goals set for 2020, he said. Greenhouse gas emissions are down in the state, he said.  Markets, and not RGGI, are working to reduce emissions, he said.

Any RGGI tax benefits are minuscule, Christie said.  Laws already exist to promote clean energy.  “We need broader results to benefit ratepayers and citizens,” he said.  RGGI has no discernible impact on the environment, and because Pennsylvania is not an RGGI member, cleaner plants in N.J. may close while dirtier Pa. plants may stay operating, he said.

RGGI is a northeastern alliance of ten states that levy a surtax on carbon-emission power plants – a tax conservatives say is passed onto small businesses and other consumers – and dedicates the funds to clean energy development. It’s also the nation’s first carbon trade system that was intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2018, but in New Jersey and other states the dedicated funds have been used to fill budget gaps.

In addition, opponents see RGGI as a problem because governments are selling off the credits at a much reduced cost from what  credit purchasers will likely sell them for in the future. State withdrawing from RGGI by year’s end