TRENTON – Two bills to keep Gov. Chris Christie from pulling New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative narrowly passed in the Senate today.
One bill, S2946, requires the state to participate in the 10-state cooperative effort to cap emissions. It passed, 21-18.
Another piece, SCR164, declares the state’s withdrawal from RGGI inconsistent with the Global Warming Response Act. It also passed, 21-18.
In announcing the state’s exit from RGGI by year’s end, Christie said last month that among other things, market forces were accomplishing what RGGI cannot. He said that even with RGGI’s existence, Pennsylvania’s non-membership hurts New Jersey’s air quality, while keeping the neighboring state’s taxes lower for businesses.
The measures to keep the state in RGGI are sponsored by Assemblymen John McKeon and Upendra Chivukula, among others. Chivukula and McKeon sponsored the original legislation establishing the so-called cap-and-trade pact under which utilities purchase pollution “allowances’’ in auctions with the proceeds being invested in renewable energy.
In the Senate, the sponsors include state Sens. Steve Sweeney, Bob Smith, and Linda Greenstein.
State Sen. Diane Allen said again that the cap-and-trade program is chasing business from the state and maintained that was the case with Ocean Spray’s plant in Burlington County that recently left for Pennsylvania.
Christie has said that he does not need legislative approval to withdrawal the state from the RGGI program. The Assembly will consider the bills on Wednesday.