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Climate Change Focus of Assembly Committee Hearing
Date : Thu, 10 Oct 2013 12:55:30 -0400
For Immediate Release
October 10, 2013
Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100
Climate Change Focus of Assembly Committee Hearing
Today the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committees will hear
testimony on how climate change impacts New Jersey and how implementing
energy efficiency, demand response, carbon reduction programs, and other
strategies can help New Jersey counter the climate crisis.This Committee
Meeting is especially important as Gov. Christie has denied any link
between Sandy and Climate Change and his administration has weakened
policies and programs that would better protect New Jersey by reducing
our carbon footprint.
"Sandy was a wake call that shows climate change is real.The state of
New Jersey has failed to lead when it comes to the climate change.The
Governor has called the problem 'esoteric' and refused to address
it.Unless we take action to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt and
mitigate to climate change, we will waste money rebuilding while
continuing to put people and property in harm's way," said Jeff Tittel,
Director, NJ Sierra Club.
Implementation of President Obama's Historic Climate Change Action Plan
In June President Obama announced his administration's next steps for
building a legacy of action to fight the climate crisis. The plan
includes new energy efficiency standards for federal buildings and
appliances, scales up responsible clean energy production on public
lands with an ambitious new commitment to power 6 million homes by 2020,
and uses the full authority of the Clean Air Act to cut dangerous carbon
pollution from power plants.The President is also calling for sea level
rise adaptation planning.
Last month the HUD Sandy Rebuilding Strategy Taskforce released its
final report, which follows the President's Action Plan. If New Jersey
doesn't make these changes we can lose federal money now and in the future.
As outlined in the HUD plan, New Jersey should require the latest
building codes.To date the Governor's administration has refused to
adopt the latest building codes as part of rebuilding and a letter from
the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding addressing the subject simply
notes that "New Jersey adopted the 2009 version of the model building
code."The codes New Jersey is using are about 15% less efficient than
current codes and new standards are being drafted this fall.We were
under the impression this updates would be happening but the letter
seems to indicate otherwise.
We need legislation requiring the DCA to minimally require the adoption
of the 2012 International IECC codes and the ICC Green Building
Standards.And legislation requiring DCA to require all buildings meet
Energy Star tier three New Jersey Climate Choice Standards.
"They are avoiding their responsibility and failing to do their job of
helping New Jersey rebuild in the most efficient and responsible
manner," said Jeff Tittel."Energy efficiency will help reduce
pollution and save people money.It is the way to rebuild smarter and
better and we need the Legislature to move these updated standards forward."
HUD is calling for not just hardening the grid, but making it more
resilient including distributive generation, microgrid, combined heat
and power, smart grid, renewable energy and energy efficiency.They are
also calling for developing a backup system of power for communications
and data such as cell towers.The BPU is not requiring this in the
ongoing rate increases requested by utilities for grid hardening
projects. We need action in the Legislature to implement these
As we rebuild from Sandy and plan for future climate change impacts we
need to invest in energy efficiency.Energy efficiency can reduce the
need for new expensive transmission lines, substations, and other
distribution infrastructure, making the grid less vulnerable to falling
trees and flooding.Smart grid and distributed generation technology make
the grid less vulnerable to circuit outages.Clean energy mitigates the
impacts of future storms by reducing carbon pollution in our atmosphere,
lessening the future impacts of climate change.Distributed generation
can be tied to energy storage systems such as battery backup systems and
renewable systems.Focusing only on physical protection does not address
the broader problems with our energy delivery system, but reducing
demand begins to work on those issues.
The Legislature can support energy efficiency by requiring the BPU to
adopt an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard.
The HUD plan calls for climate and sea level rise adaptation
planning.Instead of moving forward with sea level rise and climate
change adaptation planning, the Governor cut the DEP Office of Climate
Change and has stopped progress under previous administrations to
implement hazard planning to address sea level rise. He has not required
programs and mapping to deal with sea level rise, climate change, and
adaptation and mitigation for those impacts.
We need legislation that would require state agencies to mandate
mitigation and adaption planning for sea level rise.
RGGI Creates Jobs, Improves Economy While Combatting Climate Change
Governor Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas
Initiative (RGGI) and has vetoed legislation passed by both houses that
prohibits New Jersey from leaving the program. 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
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.
While participating in RGGI, NJ reduced its greenhouse gas usage by 10%
and RGGI has helped the regional economy grow by $2.3 billion while
creating or saving almost 1800 jobs.
The Legislature should constitutionally dedicate New Jersey's
participation in RGGI or other such climate compacts.
Governor Christie Policies Make NJ More Vulnerable
Instead of implementing adaptation and mitigation planning and reducing
carbon pollution, the Governor is rolling back policies that reduce
climate change pollution and promote clean energy alternatives.Governor
Christie has diverted almost $900 million from different clean energy
funding and his 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.
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.We went from first
in the nation in installed solar to third and are heading to
fourth.Legislation was needed to save the solar market.
We were eighth in the nation in energy efficiency and are now sixteenth.
Governor Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act
The Legislature can take action against the rollbacks we have seen
under the Governor.We need the Clean Energy Funds to be constitutionally
dedicated to prevent further raids.We need legislation establishing a
funding mechanism for offshore wind projects. The Legislature must
require state agencies to actually implement the Global Warming Response
Act.Action must be taken to expand the Renewable Portfolio Standard for
"While other states are planning for climate change and adaptation, New
Jersey has dismantled programs it previously had in place.We were once a
leader in adaptation planning and the Governor may deny the science but
he cannot deny the facts.New Jersey one of the most vulnerable places to
climate change and sea level rise and the Governor's policies are more
about his national political ambitions than protecting our coast and
communities from future storms," said Tittel.
-- Kate Millsaps Conservation Program Coordinator NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club 609-656-7612Received on 2013-10-10 09:55:30
New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
Sierra Club is a registered trademark.
Page URL: http://NewJersey.SierraClub.org/PressReleases/0517.asp
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