Governor Christie: New Jersey’s Future Is Green
Today, Governor Christie discussed why RGGI isn’t working to help reduce C02 emissions and why we need renewable energy strategies to lead New Jersey into a Green future. May 26, 2011. (Transcript Below)
“First, a couple of preliminary things. In the past I’ve always said that climate change is real and it’s impacting our state. There’s undeniable data that CO2 levels and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are increasing. This decade average temperatures have been rising, temperature changes are affecting weather patterns and our climate. In order to best deal with climate change we have to understand its causes. That was the root of the question that I was asking at the time of my town hall meetings and it’s gotten a lot of attention. So in the last number of months since that time I’ve taken some time to develop a better understanding of the role that humans play in global warming and what impact human activity has on our climate. The last few months I’ve sat down with experts both inside the government and outside the administration in academia and other places, to discuss the issue in depth. I’ve also done some reading on my own on the topic as well. I’m certainly not a scientist which is the first problem. So I can’t claim to fully understand all of this. Certainly not after just a few months of study. But when you have over 90% of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role it’s time to defer to the experts. Climate science is complex though and we’re just beginning to have a fuller understanding of humans’ role in all of this. But we know enough to know that we are at least a part of the problem. So looking forward, we need to work to put policies in place that act at reducing those contributing factors.
Now, after extensive review with the DEP and others in my administration, our analysis of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI reveals that this program is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future.
First, RGGI allowances were never expensive enough to change behavior as they were intended to and ultimately fuel different choices. When RGGI began the industry projected that the cost of allowances would eventually be as high as twenty to thirty dollars a ton compared to the current price of less than per ton, at which point the cost would have been sufficient to affect a decision of energy producers to choose lower carbon fuels or more efficient production technologies. This is not the case. It has not happened. Trends indicate the cost of the allowance will continue to be at the floor reserve price and there will be no significant secondary market for allowances. In other words, the whole system is not working as it was intended to work. It’s a failure.
Second, New Jersey’s carbon emissions from a report the DEP will release today are already below the goals for 2020 set out in New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act, the legislation that permitted the state to participate in RGGI. According to this most recent report which was conducted before RGGI was implemented, greenhouse gas emissions are down in New Jersey. Reduced emissions have been due to increased use of natural gas, and the decreased use of coal. We’re seeing that the market and not RGGI has created incentives to reduce the use of carbon-based fuels.
Third, given that we now have laws that provide significant market incentives for wind, solar, and instate natural gas generation, any benefits that the RGGI tax may have had are miniscule. In fact fourteen laws have been passed since the Global Warming Response Act was passed authorizing us to join RGGI. These fourteen laws all accomplish the goals of promoting clean energy without the need to participate in RGGI at all. RGGI has not changed behavior and it does not reduce emissions. We’re looking for broader results that benefit all ratepayers and all citizens.
Finally and importantly, RGGI does nothing more than tax electricity, tax our citizens, tax our businesses, with no discernable or measurable impact upon our environment. Because states such as Pennsylvania are not RGGI members it’s just possible that by making the cap too stringent clean New Jersey plants would be forced to close only to be replaced by power from dirty Pennsylvania coal plants. It doesn’t make any sense environmentally or economically and the continuation of this tax makes no sense for my efforts and the Lieutenant Governor’s continued efforts to make New Jersey a more business-friendly environment and a place where private sector jobs can continue to be created.
So, we will withdraw from RGGI in an orderly fashion by year’s end…”
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