New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced he is pulling the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) at the end of the year.
RGGI – the only cap-and-trade system in the US – has been under assault by fossil fuel interests since the midterm elections when Republicans gained more influence in the Northeast and throughout the country.
Earlier this month key legislative committees in Delaware and Maine as well as the New Hampshire Senate voted to reject efforts to pull out of the landmark carbon trading system.
Christie called RGGI a “gimmicky program that does not work,” according to a Bloomberg story. He added that it is merely a tax on electricity, residents and businesses.
But a recent survey conducted by Public Polling Policy found that the majority of New Jersey residents support RGGI participation, despite any additional costs.
The survey results, released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), found that 60% of respondents are willing to pay an additional $0.75 per month on their electric bill to cut carbon emissions. NRDC says that figure more than covers the costs associated with participating in RGGI.
47% of respondents said pulling out of RGGI would be inconsistent with the governor’s stated commitment to clean energy.
Christie’s action mirrors that of Republican Governors in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, who have backed away from commitments made by predecessors to participate in a cap-and-trade program for Western states and provinces.
The RGGI was adopted by 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states in 2005. It has been successful not only in reducing global warming emissions from power plants, but also in channeling funds to clean energy projects in those states.
Efforts to roll back RGGI are being fueled by Americans for Prosperity, a corporate front group bankrolled by leading polluters, including Koch Industries, who have been aggressively moving to eliminate regional cap-and-trade programs.