TRENTON – Lawmakers defending the state’s continued partnership with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative said today they are introducing three bills designed to ensure that goal.
One seeks a constitutional amendment to prevent the administration from ever again taking RGGI funds to plug general fund budget holes.
Another would declare that withdrawing from RGGI is inconsistent with the Global Warming Response Act.
A third would require the state’s participation in RGGI.
The bills are sponsored by the architects of the original RGGI law, Assemblymen Upendra Chivukula, (D-17), Somerset, and John McKeon, (D-27), South Orange.
In announcing the state’s withdrawal from RGGI by years’ end, Gov. Christie said last month that he did not need the Legislature’s approval.
Even if the bills are approved and make it to the governor’s desk, a veto is not unexpected, and the question will become whether the Democratic-controlled Legislature can override it.
McKeon, in recounting New Jersey’s long history of bipartisan support for environmental efforts such as RGGI, said, “Maybe this will be the one time they (the GOP lawmakers) will step out of lockstep. This will put them to the test.’’
McKeon said RGGI helped make New Jersey a national leader in the pursuit of a better environment and clean energy, and pulling out of the 10-state initiate to reduce emissions is a giant step backward.
At a press conference to announce the bills, they said that Sen. Bob Smith, (D-17), has expressed support for the bills but has not yet made a commitment toward introducing companion bills in the upper chamber.
Earlier in the day, Chivukula chaired a committee hearing into the pros and cons of the RGGI decision.