Northeast Energy Program is Good for the Garden State

Written by Barbara Brummer on . Posted in Learn, The Wonk Room

Editor’s Note: This commentary from The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey’s executive director Barbara Brummer comes on the heels of a number of recent events around the Northeast U.S.’s 10-state initiative to reduce carbon pollution and promote energy efficiency and low carbon energy solutions (the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI for short). This commentary is also in The Nature Conservancy’s newsroom. Please also see our recent post on three state acknowledging the success of RGGI and voting for the state to stay in the program.

Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie indicated that he would like to suspend New Jersey’s participation in of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the successful Northeastern regional program to reduce carbon pollution. This would be an unfortunate course of action, and we hope that New Jersey’s leaders find a way to keep RGGI alive in the Garden State.

Sea-level rise and more powerful storms are increasing the threat of property and ecosystem damage along New Jersey’s shoreline, and in other low-lying areas in the Northeast due to the warming of our planet. This also means hotter summer days, with more Asthma-inducing smog, insect infestations in our forests, and other changes in our natural surroundings. New Jersey needs to stick with workable approaches like RGGI to help moderate the impacts of climate change on New Jersey.

New Jersey has a long history of being among the nation’s leaders in moving toward a clean-energy economy that reduces carbon pollution, provides new jobs and protects our health. Pulling out of RGGI would be in direct opposition to this strong legacy and mean losing millions of dollars in revenue for the state.

In fact, since RGGI was enacted, over $35 million has been invested directly into New Jersey businesses for efficient and renewable energy projects. These investments are projected to result in savings of over $90 million to consumers in New Jersey. RGGI is critical to the continuation of these types of money and energy-saving projects.

RGGI is an innovative policy approach that creates an economic incentive for electric utilities in New Jersey and nine other Northeastern states to reduce their carbon pollution. It is modeled on a successful program to reduce acid rain that was championed and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. RGGI has been notable for the bipartisan support it has generated; it started with the leadership of Republican governors George Pataki of New York and Jodi Rell of Connecticut, and was strongly supported by the governors of eight other Northeastern states.

In pulling out of RGGI, New Jersey would be turning its back on a program that has proven to be effective in helping to move our State toward a clean energy future. We urge the governor to reconsider his position, and we encourage New Jersey citizens to contact their state legislators to urge continuation of RGGI.

Barbara Brummer is the executive director of The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey

Photo by flickr user ritwikdey. Used under a Creative Commons license

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