Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) sent a letter to Governor Chris Christie urging him to reconsider his decision to withdraw the State of New Jersey from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Pallone stressed that remaining in RGGI will help New Jersey comply with new regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA's proposal, announced in June 2014, seeks to cut the amount of carbon pollution produced by power plants by 30% to below 2005 levels by 2030. RGGI is a cooperative effort among nine New England and Mid-Atlantic states to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. New Jersey joined other states in implementing the program in 2005, but Governor Christie announced that he would withdraw the state from RGGI in 2011.
"We cannot wait to address climate change," said Congressman Pallone. "And RGGI allows New Jersey to make meaningful changes. If we do not start taking the prospect of climate change seriously, devastating storms like Sandy will intensify and become the new normal. Continuing to participate in RGGI will allow New Jersey to meet the new EPA carbon standards, while also spurring investments in clean energy technologies and creating jobs in our state. I urge the Governor to reconsider his decision."
In response to his withdrawal from RGGI, environmental groups sued Governor Christie, saying that he broke the law by not introducing a proposal to change or repeal the regulations regarding the state's membership in the program. A state appeals court ruled in March of 2014 that the administration had not followed the proper procedures when withdrawing from RGGI because it had not allowed for public input. A public comment period is now open until September 5th.
The full text of the letter is below:
July 11, 2014
Governor Chris Christie
P.O. Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
Dear Governor Christie,
I write today regarding our country's efforts to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. In June, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule that aims to reduce carbon emissions from existing U.S. power plants by 30 percent by the year 2030. This rule, once finalized, will be a crucial aspect of America's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and address climate change.
I am deeply disappointed with your decision to pursue withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which has been extremely effective in participating states. Investments of RGGI auction proceeds to date are projected to return more than $2 billion in lifetime energy bill savings to more than 3 million participating households and more than 12,000 businesses in the region. Once finalized, the EPA rule will require states to develop plans to meet emissions reduction goals set by the agency. Remaining in RGGI will be the most effective and efficient way for New Jersey to meet the EPA carbon standards.
The World Bank released a report in 2012 on the potential effects of increasing average temperatures by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. This type of increase is well within the range of possibility if we don't act. The impacts of this level of warming would be devastating. Sea levels would be over three feet higher, inundating coastal communities.
New Jerseyans know firsthand what the cost of climate change is. If we do not start taking the prospect of climate change seriously, devastating storms like Superstorm Sandy will become the new normal. Climate change leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, duration and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events. This increases beach erosion, storm-surge damage and flooding for the many coastal communities in New Jersey.
I urge you to reconsider your decision to withdraw from RGGI. Instead of walking away from this regional program, New Jersey should work with the other Northeast states that are members of RGGI to reduce carbon emissions and spur investments in clean energy technologies. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress