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Sierra Club Supports Lawsuit on RGGI

Date : Thu, 7 Jun 2012 16:51:28 -0400

For Immediate Release

June 6, 2012

Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Sierra Club Supports Lawsuit on RGGI

The New Jersey Sierra Club will be joining the lawsuit by Environment New Jersey and NRDC against the DEP and Christ Administration on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This decision made last year to remove New Jersey from the 10 state agreement that will cut carbon emissions will have detrimental impacts on New Jersey's environment and our clean energy economy. The New Jersey Legislature enacted the RGGI law and has passed resolution that found that the Governor's action of leaving RGGI violated legislative intent and also passed legislation to require New Jersey to participate in RGGI. Christie vetoed the RGGI bill requiring participation last year and this year's bill currently sits on his desk again. The Governor has taken no official action to actually remove New Jersey from RGGI other than boycotting the auctions costing New Jersey millions of dollars. This shows that Governor Christie is looking out for his rightwing national political interest instead of looking out for the best interest for the people of New Jersey. RGGI has shown to be working throughout the region and we want to continue New Jersey's participation in RGGI through this lawsuit. New Jersey Sierra Club has to go through our complicated national litigation process and we will be filing in support of this lawsuit at a later date.

"No man is above the law not even Governors. Governor Christie has violated legislative intent when he pulled out of RGGI and on his own is preventing New Jersey from participating. The Governor has not officially taken New Jersey out of RGGI because of his own arrogance he is ignoring the law and what is best for the environment and green jobs in New Jersey,"said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "We will be going to court to force the Governor to do his job, which is to protect the environment and grow our economy by keeping us in RGGI."

Governor Christie will not go through the rule making process through the Board of Public Utilities and the Department of Environmental Protection because he knows the legislature will block him. Instead Governor Christie is using the unilateral approach, which has not worked in the past with the court ruling overturning the abolishment of COAH. Earlier this year the court ruled that the Governor abolished COAH without legal authority or proper regulatory authority, the same as with RGGI. This gives us precedent because it shows the Governor cannot just do what he wants without going through the proper regulatory process.

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.

New Jersey's exit from RGGI has harmed 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.

"RGGI has worked, but Governor Christie's actions have cost New Jersey thousands of jobs, over hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for clean energy programs, and have allowed New Jersey's air pollution to get worse. All in the name of his own national political agenda," Tittel said.

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.

""If the Governor vetoes the bill again we will work to get an override. If he tries to pass rules to pull us out of RGGI we will work to get those bills blocked. We will join this litigation to make sure the Governor follows the law not ignores it. Protecting New Jersey's environment and growing our economy should be the Governor's agenda instead his agenda is to please the Koch brothers and polluters. The battle over clean air and green jobs is far from being over," stated Tittel.

On Thu, Jun 7, 2012 at 4:47 PM, Laura Lynch <> wrote:


New Jersey Is Sued Over Cap-and-Trade Reversal By MIREYA NAVARRO<>
[image: Green: Politics]<>

Since Gov. Chris Christie pulled New Jersey<>out of the multistate carbon trading system known as the Regional
Greenhouse Gas Initiative <> last year, supporters of
the program have been clamoring for a reversal of the decision.

The legislature has voted twice to return the state to the program, known
as RGGI (pronounced reggie), but the governor has already vetoed one of the
bills. Environmental groups have faulted the governor for withdrawing New
Jersey from a program that produces revenue that participating states
invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

Now, two of those groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council<>and Environment
New Jersey <>, have gone to court<>.
In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Superior Court in Trenton against the
state's Department of Environmental Protection<>,
the groups seek to reinstate New Jersey's participation, arguing that the
withdrawal was illegal because it was accomplished without adhering to the
state's administrative laws, which they say would require giving the public
an opportunity to comment.

New Jersey's withdrawal left RGGI with nine participating states,
including New York. The program caps carbon dioxide emissions<>from electric power providers and allows those that exceed their targets in
reducing pollution to sell their allotted carbon "allowances" to other
companies at public auctions as an incentive to further reduce emissions.

Governor Christie questioned the program's effectiveness, saying that New
Jersey was reducing its emissions in any case because it is relying more on
natural gas and less on coal to meet its energy needs. Critics of cap and
trade programs argue that RGGI constitutes an illegal form of taxation
because it imposes additional costs on electric utilities that are then
passed on to customers.

Officials with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection told
The Star-Ledger of Newark that the withdrawal was undertaken in
consultation with the attorney's general office and was in full compliance
with the law.

Laura Lynch
Conservation Chair
New Jersey Chapter
Sierra Club

"The good Earth -- we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and
lazy." (Kurt Vonnegut)

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Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
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Received on 2012-06-07 13:51:28

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