Assembly Utilities & Environment Chairmen Also Join Forces with U.S. Military Veterans to Call on Christie Not to Pull Out of RGGI

(TRENTON) Assembly Environment Chairman John F. McKeon and Assembly Utilities Chairman Upendra J. Chivukula stood with leading advocates of the environment to announce a multi-bill package to protect funding sources for clean energy and in support of New Jersey’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

McKeon and Chivukula unveiled the legislation today at a State House news conference in Trenton in response to Gov. Christie’s announcement last month that he would pull New Jersey out of RGGI.

Matt Elliott of Environment New Jersey, Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club, David Pringle of NJ Environmental Federation and Amy Hansen of NJ Conservation Foundation joined the lawmakers to support New Jersey’s continuation in the ten-state compact to curb greenhouse gas emissions and the protection of funding sources for clean energy.

Chivukula and McKeon are prime sponsors of the legislation that required New Jersey to become a part of the nation’s first market-based program to reduce global warming pollution by establishing a regional cap on emissions of carbon dioxide – the largest source of greenhouse gases, the cause of global warming pollution.

Under RGGI, entities like power plants must purchase pollution allowances. Proceeds from the auction of allowances are intended to be invested in clean energy measures that further reduce energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. The measure is intended to provide for a 10 percent reduction of emissions in the region by 2018.

“Measures like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have catapulted New Jersey to national leadership in clean energy including in renewable sources like wind and solar. It is incumbent upon us to work together in a bipartisan manner to promote clean energy and make RGGI even more effective than it already is,” McKeon (D-Essex) said.

“Today, Chairman Chivukula and I unveiled a package of measures aimed at reaffirming the Legislature’s intent to be part of RGGI and to protect funding for clean energy,” he added.

Since the measure (A-4559) was enacted into law in 2008, RGGI is credited with creating 18,000 jobs and generating $2.3 billion in economic activity in the region. The funds raised in auctions have helped deliver significant energy savings to small business, consumers and industry by financing conservation and efficiency programs.

“Staging a retreat from RGGI would be a tactical error for New Jersey,” Chivukula (D-Somerset) said. “Chairman McKeon and I were glad to stand with leading environmental advocates for clean energy today to announce a multi-bill package that would keep New Jersey in RGGI and dedicate sources of funding for clean energy with a constitutional amendment. We look forward to working in a collaborative manner with our colleagues in the Legislature and with Gov. Christie to make an already successful initiative even stronger and more effective.”

“More than ever, we need every tool available to fight global warming, reduce pollution, and to promote clean energy,” said Matt Elliott, global warming and clean energy advocate at Environment New Jersey.

“We applaud Chairmen McKeon and Chivukula for taking a strong stand for clean energy and the environment by introducing this important package of bills. New Jersey’s participation in RGGI, together with our innovative clean energy funding mechanisms, have created a clean energy economy that is the envy of the nation. We need to double down on these efforts and work to make them even stronger – that’s why the environmental community is proud to stand with the chairmen today to work toward a clean energy future for New Jersey,” he added.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  

The RGGI bill package unveiled today includes the following measures;

A-4108 – McKeonChivukulaStender – requires State participation in RGGI;

The measure would require State participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which partially implements the purposes of the Global Warming Respone Act (GWRA) by creating an emissions auction and trading mechanism to reduce the level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, namely carbon dioxide (CO2);

ACR-195 – McKeonChivukulaStender – declares withdrawal of N.J. from RGGI inconsistent with GRWA & RGGI

The measure declares the Governor’s withdrawal of New Jersey from RGGI to be inconsistent with legislative intent and affirms the General Assembly’s support for New Jersey remaining part of the initiative;

This resolution embodies the finding and determination of the Assembly that the announcement by Gov. Christie to withdraw New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is inconsistent with the intent of the Legislature as expressed in the legislative findings and declarations of the Global Warming Response Act (GWRA) and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI);

ACR-80 – ChivukulaMcKeon – urges the passage of a constitutional amendment for the dedication of clean energy funds;

The measure urges the passage of an amendment to the State Constituion that would require funds placed into the Clean Energy Fund to be used solely for clean energy purposes.

It declares that that EDECA – the Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act of 1999 authorizes the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to impose a societal benefits charge (SBC) on all electric and gas public utility customers and sets forth permissable uses for funds collected through the imposition of the SBC, which include energy efficiency, energy conservation, renewable energy programs and the Universal Service Fund.

The annual appropriations act has repeatedly authorized distributions from the Clean Energy Fund for purposes that are not provided for in EDECA and are unrelated to clean energy. 

The diversion of Clean Energy Funds for purposes not contemplated within EDECA and entirely unrelated to energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy constitutes a hidden general tax on the people of New Jersey.

The measure calls for an amendment to the State constitution to prevent future diversions from the Clean Energy Fund.

Last year, Gov. Christie zeroed out $65 million in RGGI funds when he raided an estimated $408 million in clean energy funds to balance the state budget for the fiscal year 2010 to 2011, a move that was criticized by Chivukula and McKeon and other clean energy advocates.

Defense experts say energy independence through the development of renewable sources is key to national security. While the United States is the world’s largest consumer of energy and uses 25 percent of global production, nearly 97 percent of the country’s energy needs are met by foreign oil.

Operation Free, a non-partisan nation-wide coalition of veterans and military organizations joined forces with Chivukula and McKeon last week to call on Gov. Christie not to pull out of RGGI and to declare the regional greenhouse pact key to national security. 

“We call on lawmakers across party lines to join our fight for RGGI because it a fight for American soldiers who may be deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan,” said Lt. General Norman R. Seip (ret.), a New Jersey native. “The billions of dollars we spend on foreign oil may be used by some nations to fund the purchase of guns and bullets that are fired on Americans in combat. Because we are so oil-dependent, we underwrite our own enemies. By funding sources of clean energy, RGGI helps reduce our oil-dependence and fortifies our national security as well as the safety of our men and women in the armed services.”

Out of the nearly $861 million raised in regional RGGI auctions, an estimated 63 percent have been reinvested in energy efficiency, renewable energy and other clean energy technologies.

“The development of renewable sources and clean energy technologies help free us from our billion-dollar-a-day dependence on foreign oil,” McKeon (D-Essex) said. “By pulling out of RGGI, New Jersey would be taking a giant step backwards in our march towards a clean energy economy and energy independence.”

According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, an investment of $170 billion from now through 2020 would generate savings of $900 billion annually and could also reduce growth in global energy demand by at least 50 percent.

“The first-of-its-kind Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has bolstered our energy independence by fast tracking the development of a renewable economy. By delivering energy efficiency, RGGI further reduces our dependence on foreign oil by reducing demand. New Jersey must continue its membership of RGGI in the interest of energy security as well as a responsible energy future.”



Gita Bajaj
(973) 224-4851 cellular email email