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Keep NJ in RGGI

Date : Mon, 6 Feb 2012 10:46:38 -0500

/For Immediate Release/
February 02, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

*Keep NJ in RGGI*

** Today the Assembly Environment Committee released a bill that would require New Jersey to continue participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a ten state regional compact to reduce climate change and air pollution and fund clean energy projects.The Governor announced last year that New Jersey would not take part in the carbon auctions but *A1998 *(McKeon/Chivukula) would prohibit New Jersey from leaving. Exiting the program, as Governor Christie has called for, will cause New Jersey to lose jobs and increase pollution in New Jersey's air. What the Governor has done is the height of arrogance.He is exceeding the legislative intent by pulling out of RGGI without the input of the public or the Legislature.

"The Sierra Club applauds the Committee for passing this important bill that will keep New Jersey in RGGI.We need the Legislature to protect New Jersey's environment and green economy and to prevent the Governor from pulling out of RGGI and abandoning the funding from RGGI," said *Jeff Tittel, Director of New Jersey Sierra Club*. RGGI is an agreement signed by the ten northeast states to cut carbon emissions from electrical generation power plants. Emissions would be cut through a surcharge on carbon pollution from the electrical generation plants as well as mandating a 10% cut in carbon pollution from the plants. The concept of RGGI is to put a fee on dirty power to get utilities and others to move towards cleaner power.The surcharge works out to be less than one half of one percent on our energy bills.The average household in New Jersey sees an approximately $6 a year increase on their energy bill because of RGGI. The money that is collected from RGGI goes out to help the environment, expand renewable energy infrastructure, and help middle class families save on their electric bills. A report by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners found that New Jersey's participation in RGGI created $151 million in economic value and 1,772 jobs in our state.Throughout the region, RGGI saved customers $1.1 billion on their electric bills and $174 million on gas bills, offsetting the $912 million paid by customers.RGGI's energy efficiency programs helped keep $765 million in regional economy instead of going to out of state fossil fuel interests, including natural gas and coal. Governor Christie has been diverting RGGI funding to close up budget gaps instead of investing in New Jersey's clean energy economy, undercutting the success of the program and using it as an excuse to pull New Jersey out of the program.Christie has diverted $63 million of the money New Jersey has received from RGGI for the budget.RGGI is successful when states use their RGGI funding to invest in services such as energy audits and rebate programs and green energy jobs and the Governor's actions hurt job creation, clean energy, and the success of the RGGI program.To replace the money that was lost from not participating in RGGI, the Economic Development Authority (EDA) is diverting BPU Clean Energy Fund monies.

 "We would have actually been able to get more done, save people more money, and create more jobs if Governor Christie didn't hijack the money that came from RGGI for the budget and if New Jersey participated in the most recent carbon allowance auctions," *said Jeff Tittel*. "Weatherization programs are the most cost effective way to save money and create jobs and Governor Christie has undercut this program by diverting the RGGI funding that finances them." New Jersey's exit from RGGI will harm our environment, economy, and clean energy jobs, the fastest growing job sector in the state. Companies that receive RGGI funds have been able to make energy efficiency improvements or build on-site clean energy projects.These projects help companies save energy and money and also support local jobs, putting people to work retrofitting buildings or installing solar arrays and other projects.RGGI has also helped hundreds of clean energy businesses starting up, expanding or moving to New Jersey.These companies employ thousands of New Jerseyans in the growing clean energy market.Since the Governor has pulled out of RGGI there have been consequences.There has been a drop in prices in the Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) market, almost causing a crash.The Governor's actions are undermining New Jersey's clean energy businesses, the fastest growing economic sector in the state.By pulling out of RGGI the Governor is stifling job creation in the clean energy field.

"Requiring continued participation in RGGI is critical to protect New Jersey's interests, economy, and environment as the Governor continues to move to the right and appease corporate polluters and the Tea Party to promote his national political profile," *said Jeff Tittel*.

*RGGI Facts:*

·New Jersey has achieved the RGGI greenhouse gas reduction goal of 10% in the first three years

·RGGI is achieving its goals and more.Due in part to its programs, global warming pollution is down 15%-30% since it launched.

·The economy in the region has grown by more than $2.3 billion because of RGGI.

·RGGI is directly responsible for creating or saving almost 18,000 jobs

·Companies that receive RGGI funds have been able to make energy efficiency improvements or build on-site clean energy projects.These projects help companies save energy and money and also support local jobs, putting people to work retrofitting buildings or installing solar arrays and other projects

·The first 12 projects in New Jersey funded by RGGI proceeds helped New Jersey businesses generate over 167,000 megawatt hours of clean energy per year -- equal to the amount of energy consumed by 19,600 households per year -- and reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 84,000 metric tons.

·RGGI has also helped lead to hundreds of clean energy businesses - both large and small - starting up, expanding or moving to New Jersey.These companies employ thousands of New Jerseyans in the growing clean energy market

·Governor Christie has eliminated the Office of Climate Change, took over $400 million in energy funds, and last year he took $63 million dollars of funding from RGGI to balance his budget.

·The Governor's revised Energy Master Plan reduces our renewable energy goals from 30% to 22.5% in favor of more fossil fuels, contributing to climate change pollution.

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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