TRENTON – Two groups expressed starkly different reactions Wednesday on a report citing the economic benefits of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which enables participating states to levy a carbon tax to fund clean energy initiatives.
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners report states that New Jersey’s participation in the 10-state pact, which Gov. Chris Christie wants New Jersey to exit, created thousands of jobs and stimulated the economy.
It states that RGGI created $151 million in economic value and created 1,772 jobs. Region-wide, it saved customers $1.1 billion on their electric bills and $174 million on gas bills, offsetting the $912 million paid by customers. It helped save hundreds of millions of dollars from going to fossil fuels and toward investments in clean energy and green jobs.
“This report shows that not only was RGGI working to reduce our air pollution but the program was creating jobs and helping people in New Jersey save money,” N.J. Sierra Club Executive Director Jeff Tittel said in a statement.
Not everyone agrees with Tittel, though. Steve Lonegan, head of Americans for Prosperity, which opposes RGGI, slammed the report. In a lengthy statement, Lonegan said the report is “bogus” and biased, saying that “their assumptions are wrapped in baseless science and flimsy economic modeling.
“Among the outrageous claims in this phony report is that $1 million in tax revenue generates $1.2 million in benefits for taxpayers,” Lonegan said. “Milton Friedman must be spinning today because according to this report, RGGI is the first tax in history to actually create jobs and prosperity with no ill effects on the people and businesses being taxed.
“But that doesn’t matter to radical leftists. Logic in economics is irrelevant to them. To defend their irrational theories and ram through their far-left agenda, they attack logic and reason and substitute mystical intuition for ratiocination,” he said. “This is a totally one-sided report propped up by environmental extremists, career bureaucrats, and Obama cronies who rely on the gravy train of taxpayer subsidies in order to subsist in their do-nothing jobs.”
Lonegan ended his statement, saying, “This report gives new meaning to ‘shovel ready.’ This fraudulent study ought to be shoveled into the ground where it belongs.”
Tittel said Christie diverted $63 million from RGGI to close budget gaps, instead of using the funds for their intended purposes, like energy audits, rebate programs and green energy jobs.
“We would have actually been able to get more done, save people more money, and create more jobs if Governor Christie didn’t hijack the money that came from RGGI for the budget and if New Jersey participated in the most recent carbon allowance auctions,” Tittel said. “Weatherization programs are the most cost effective way to save money and create jobs and Gov. Christie has undercut this program by diverting the RGGI funding that finances them.”