June 24, 2018 | ° F

NJ?legislators look to pass bill to enter green initiative

New Jersey Democratic lawmakers announced last Thursday their revived attempt to pass a bill that would re-enter the state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

RGGI is a multi-state anti-pollution deal Gov. Chris Christie opposed last May.

The bill was introduced with the intentions of combating global warming through the use of a “cap and trade system” that would involve the auctioning of emission allowances by participating states, according to the bill’s official website. Nine other states have joined the initiative as well as several Canadian provinces.

Christie wanted New Jersey out of the pact last year and is expected to veto a second attempt to introduce the bill if it passes the New Jersey Assembly, a move that has brought disapproval by New Jersey lawmakers such as Sen. President Steve Sweeney, D-3. “The effects of greenhouse gases on the environment are really indisputable at this point,” said Sweeney in a press release. “That makes Governor Christie’s action all the more short sighted and without merit. For the governor to withdraw New Jersey from RGGI was a bad move.”

Christie said he pulled out of the initiative because he felt it was simply a “gimmick” to appeal to the environmentalists while in fact, it was not able to solve any of the problems it addressed.

“The program is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future,” Christie said at a news conference according to an article on nj.com. “The whole system is not working as it was intended to work. It’s a failure.”

Yet Sen. Bob Smith, D-17, said Christie has taken a flawed view on the initiative, claiming that the pact is indeed useful in improving the future of the environment.

“Participation in RGGI is really a matter of common sense. That is why the Legislature made it clear five years ago that New Jersey was to be a participant. Being part of RGGI is the right, responsible thing to do,” Smith said in the release.

The new bill would require Christie to re-enter the initiative by altering the original legislation to make it mandatory — instead of simply recommended — for the state to cooperate with the RGGI. The bill is on its way to the Assembly to be voted upon, according to the press release.

Christie told nj.com his refusal to join similar federal projects should not be interpreted as an unwillingness to support other protective measures for the environment.

Instead, he said his administration hopes to solve the pollution issues through their own strategies.

“It is a priority of this administration to achieve improved air quality for all residents of New Jersey, and we are taking decisive action to hold out-of-state polluters accountable when they violate the Clean Air Act,” Christie said in the article.

In a speech Thursday, President Barack Obama stressed a need to adopt new strategies and ideas to fight global warming, something he said some other politicians will not embrace.

“There will always be [those] who just want to keep on doing things the same way that we’ve always done them,” Obama said to a crowd in Largo, Md. “They want to double down on the same ideas that got us some of the mess that we’ve been in.”

Obama said the American public is ultimately responsible for bringing the changes they want to see in environmental policy and urged them to contact their representatives.

“I need all of you to make your voices heard,” Obama he said in his address. “Get on the phone, write an email, send a letter [and] let your member of Congress know where you stand. Tell them to do the right thing. Tell them you can win this fight.”

Environment New Jersey issued a report last month about concerning the potential benefits New Jersey would reap from the bill. The results showed that the state would receive between $340-$380 million to invest in programs that support clean energy, according to nj.com.

“We wanted to take a step back, clear the air and set the record straight,” said Matt Elliot, an advocate for the organization in the article. “This report really proves once and for all that RGGI is a win-win, both for NJ’s economy and the environment.”

By Giancarlo Chaux

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