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Westfield Record-Press - "Global Warming Bill Draws Local Support"

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Location: Trenton, NJ

Westfield Record-Press - "Global Warming Bill Draws Local Support"

Global warming legislation sponsored by local lawmakers passed both the state Senate and General Assembly by wide margins last week and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Jon Corzine.

The Global Warming Response Act, also known as S-2114/A3301, would require the level of greenhouse gas emissions in the state to be rolled back to at least 1990 levels by the year 2020. It also would require greenhouse gas emissions not to exceed 80 percent below 2006 emission levels by 2050. These limits mirror requirements previously set forth by Corzine through an executive order.

The measure would direct the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to establish an inventory of the current and 2006 statewide greenhouse gas emissions and an inventory of the 1990 levels of statewide greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the bill would require the DEP to prepare a report recommending the measures necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the 2020 and 2050 limits.

This bill mandates the inventorying and capping of six greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulfur hexafluoride, as well hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) and polyflurochemicals (PFCs) - products commonly found in household cleaners, water-repellant sprays, insulation, air conditioning units and even inhalers

The measure requires the DEP to report at regular intervals to the governor and Legislature on the status of the reporting and monitoring program, the current level of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and the progress that has been made toward compliance with the 2020 and 2050 limits. The DEP would also be required to prepare a report that evaluates the ecological, economic and environmental factors and the technological capability affecting progress toward the goals.

Finally, the measure authorizes the Board of Public Utilities to adopt a greenhouse gas emissions portfolio standard applicable to all generators of electric power consumed in the state.

Solutions to cut pollution levels are expected to focus on reducing the state's energy consumption and shifting to clean, renewable sources of energy in the transportation and electricity sectors - the two largest sources of global warming pollution in the state. The billpreviously was modified to eliminate a schedule of fees and assessments that critics said would have been harmful to the state's business community.

When the bill becomes law, New Jersey will become the first state in the nation to require a mandatory 2050 limit on global warming pollution. Emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are contributing to rising global temperatures, which have wide-ranging environmental consequences including rising seas, severe flooding, pest infestation and species decline.

The bill was sponsored in the Assembly by Linda Stender, a Union County Democrat and former candidate for Congress, and in the Senate by Thomas H. Kean Jr., a Union County Republican and former candidate for U.S. Senate. The other local lawmakers - Democratic State Senator Nick Scutari, Democratic Assemblyman Jerry Green and Republican Assemblymen Eric Munoz, M.D. and Jon Bramnick - all signed on as cosponsors.

"It is proper and necessary that New Jersey takes this important step to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases on our climate," Kean said. "Due to inaction at the federal level, we must pay immediate attention to this critical issue in order to safeguard and preserve our children and grandchildren's future and quality of life."

"This bill is an important step forward in controlling the effects of greenhouse gases on our climate, and I am hopeful that in the face of opposition and even hostility at the federal level that other states will adopt this approach to an issue that would adversely affect the global eco-system," Kean continued.

"Our state and country have come to a critical juncture on global warming: We can take action now to protect public health and our environment, or we can dawdle and pay a steep price later for failing to act," said Stender. "New Jersey has a unique opportunity to be a crusading force in curbing global warming and promoting new technologies and strategies to counteract greenhouse gas emissions."

"I have received overwhelming support for the passage of this bill from constituents, businesses and community groups throughout my district," Stender added. "The tremendous support I have received from my colleagues in the Legislature echo the same sentiments they are receiving everyday - that New Jersey can no longer afford to wait and we must take action now."

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