Will NJ stay in RGGI?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The New Jersey Senate has passed a bill which would require the state to remain a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the carbon cap-and-trade compact covering the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states. The bill, S. 1322, is described as clarifying the legislature's intent regarding NJ’s required participation in RGGI.

RGGI is the first major market-based greenhouse gas regulatory program in the United States.  RGGI represents a cooperative effort by Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.  These ten states agreed to cap and reduce their electrical energy sector's greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2018.  Each state was free to develop its own implementation of the compact, including both how carbon allowances would be allocated and how proceeds from their sale would be used.  For example, Maine chose to invest its share of RGGI auction proceeds in energy efficiency, managed by the Efficiency Maine Trust.  A February 2012 report found that, for every dollar of RGGI auction revenues that was invested in energy efficiency in 2010, participating states received $1.3 to $6.8 in total energy benefits, with a weighted average of $2.3 in return on investment.

Last year, NJ Governor Chris Christie vowed to remove New Jersey from RGGI, arguing that RGGI participation represents a tax without producing any measurable impact on the environment.  Democrats in the state legislature introduced legislation (A4108/S2946) to require NJ to remain in RGGI, but in August 2011 Gov. Christie vetoed that bill.

S. 1322 now faces debate before the New Jersey Assembly.  If it passes out of the Assembly, it will then face an anticipated veto from the governor.  Will New Jersey remain in RGGI?

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