SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION No. 164

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 13, 2011

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  LINDA R. GREENSTEIN

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

Senator  BOB SMITH

District 17 (Middlesex and Somerset)

Assemblyman  JOHN F. MCKEON

District 27 (Essex)

Assemblyman  UPENDRA J. CHIVUKULA

District 17 (Middlesex and Somerset)

Assemblywoman  LINDA STENDER

District 22 (Middlesex, Somerset and Union)

Assemblyman  PETER J. BARNES, III

District 18 (Middlesex)

Assemblyman  REED GUSCIORA

District 15 (Mercer)

Assemblywoman  VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Buono, Beach, Whelan, Assemblymen Benson, Conaway, Diegnan and Assemblywoman Jasey

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Declares Governor’s withdrawal of NJ from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to be inconsistent with legislative intent; affirms support for and commitment to the Initiative.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


A Concurrent Resolution declaring the Governor’s withdrawal of New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to be inconsistent with legislative intent, and affirming the Legislature’s support for New Jersey remaining part of the Initiative.

 

Whereas, Increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are accepted by many respected scientists and members of the international community as seriously detrimental to the ecosystems and environment of the world, and, ultimately, if steps are not taken to reverse these trends, the effects on human, animal and plant life on Earth may be catastrophic; and

Whereas, In 2007 and 2008, the Legislature enacted P.L.2007, c.112 (C.26:2C-37 et al.), entitled the “Global Warming Response Act” (GWRA), and P.L.2007, c.340 (C.26:2C-45 et al.), commonly known as the “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative” or “RGGI” implementing law, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from electricity generated Statewide, or generated outside of the State but consumed in the State, through participation in regional or interstate initiatives to reduce these emissions, among other things; and

Whereas, New Jersey is one of 10 northeast and mid-Atlantic states currently participating in RGGI, which established an emissions allowance auction and trading mechanism to reduce the level of GHG emissions on a regional basis and which was agreed to by the signatory states in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed December 20, 2005 by Governor Codey; and

Whereas, Prior to enactment of the GWRA and the RGGI implementing law, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) took action toward participating in and implementing the regional initiative as early as 2004, when the DEP proposed rules in the New Jersey Register to redefine carbon dioxide as an air contaminant, as a regulatory prelude to the anticipated future regulatory adoption of a Model Rule proposed through RGGI; and

Whereas, The DEP commitment to RGGI and its mission was later endorsed by the Legislature through the enactment of the GWRA and the RGGI implementing law and the validation of the DEP’s action, pursuant to subsection b. of section 11 of the RGGI implementing law (C.26:2C-55); and

Whereas, The findings and declarations of the Legislature, set forth in section 1 of the RGGI implementing law (C.26:2C-45), assert that the State should implement cost-effective measures to reduce GHG emissions and that participation with other states is a means to accomplish this objective; and

Whereas, Section 2 of the GWRA (C.26:2C-38) declared that there are specific actions that the State could take to help attack global warming, including participating in regional and interstate initiatives to reduce these GHG emissions regionally, nationally, and internationally, and that it is in the public interest to establish a GHG emissions reduction program; and

Whereas, The Legislature would not have authorized the DEP or Board of Public Utilities to participate in RGGI if it did not contemplate or desire New Jersey to participate in a regional GHG reduction program such as RGGI; and

Whereas, The RGGI implementing law was enacted following, and to further the purposes of, the GWRA by dedicating to consumer benefit purposes up to 100 percent of the revenues derived from the auction or sale of allowances under an emissions allowance trading program and by authorizing participation with other states in the formation and activity of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; and

Whereas, In New Jersey, pursuant to the RGGI implementing law, allowance auction proceeds are deposited into the Global Warming Solutions Fund (GWSF), which is statutorily dedicated to support (1) end-use energy efficiency projects and new, efficient electric generation facilities that are state of the art, (2) programs to reduce electricity demand or costs to electricity customers in the low-income and moderate-income residential sector, (3) programs designed to promote local government efforts to plan, develop and implement measures to reduce GHG emissions, and (4) programs that enhance the stewardship and restoration of the State's forests and tidal marshes which provide important opportunities to sequester or reduce greenhouse gases; and

Whereas, New Jersey has received more than $102 million in proceeds since the first auction the State participated in, but $65 million was diverted by Governor Christie to the State’s General Fund in the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget, from the intended and statutorily dedicated uses of the GWSF; and

Whereas, On May 26, 2011, Governor Christie claimed that RGGI is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be so in the future, and announced that New Jersey will withdraw from the regional initiative by the end of the year; and

Whereas, On behalf of New Jersey, DEP Commissioner Martin sent a letter on May 31, 2011 to RGGI, Inc. declaring the State’s withdrawal from the regional initiative effective December 31, 2011, and confirming New Jersey’s participation in the three allowance auctions remaining in 2011, in which the State will only offer current control period allowances; and

Whereas, Under the GWRA, the State is directed to significantly decrease the amount of GHG emissions by establishing a “2050 limit,” a level of GH emissions equal to 80 percent less than the 2006 level of Statewide GHG emissions, by January 1, 2050, in addition to setting a “2020 limit”; and

Whereas, The State’s goals and policies, established under the GWRA and the RGGI implementing law, are effective in reducing GHG emissions, as evidenced by a DEP report, issued May 26, 2011, which indicated that the GHG inventory for 2008 shows 124.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (MMTCO2e) were generated in New Jersey, compared to 135.9 MMTCO2e in 2007, a reduction of more than eight percent; and

Whereas, Even though the DEP data for 2008 indicates the State is below the GWRA “2020 limit,” calculated by the DEP as 125.6 MMTCO2e, the State must still take considerable actions to reduce emissions by approximately 99.5 MMTCO2e from the 2008 level in order to reach, or remain below, the 2050 limit of 25.4 MMTCO2e; and

Whereas, New Jersey’s participation in RGGI is a key component of the authorization granted and affirmed by the GWRA and the RGGI implementing law, and continued participation in the regional initiative is in the best interest of the State in order to meet the emissions targets established under law; and

Whereas, Withdrawal from RGGI would disregard the spirit and intent of the GWRA, the RGGI implementing law, and the MOU signed by the signatory states, and jeopardize the State’s ability to reduce GHG emissions and meet the GHG limits established in the GWRA; and

Whereas, The announcement by Governor Christie to withdraw New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is inconsistent with the plain language of the “Global Warming Response Act” and the RGGI implementing law and would undermine the Legislature’s intent to lower greenhouse gas emissions; now, therefore,

 

     Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey (the General Assembly concurring):

 

     1.    This Legislature declares that Governor Christie’s decision to withdraw New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), announced on May 26, 2011, is inconsistent with the intent of the Legislature as expressed in the “Global Warming Response Act,” P.L.2007, c.112 (C.26:2C-37 et al.), and P.L.2007, c.340 (C.26:2C-45 et al.), known as the “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative” or “RGGI” implementing law.

 

     2.    This Legislature further affirms its ongoing support for, and commitment to, New Jersey remaining part of the RGGI agreement.

 

     3.    Duly authenticated copies of this concurrent resolution, signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the General Assembly and attested by the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the General Assembly, shall be transmitted to the Governor, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, the President of the Board of Public Utilities, and the Executive Director of RGGI, Inc.


STATEMENT

 

     This concurrent resolution embodies the finding and determination of this Legislature that the announcement by Governor Christie to withdraw New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is inconsistent with the intent of the Legislature as expressed in the P.L.2007, c.112 (C.26:2C-37 et al.), entitled the “Global Warming Response Act” (GWRA), and P.L.2007, c.340 (C.26:2C-45 et al.), known as the “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative” or “RGGI” implementing law. The resolution further affirms the Legislature’s ongoing support for, and commitment to, remaining part of the RGGI agreement.

     In 2007 and 2008, the Legislature enacted the GWRA and the RGGI implementing law to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from electricity generated Statewide, or generated outside of the State but consumed in the State, through participation in regional or interstate initiatives to reduce these emissions, among other things. The GWRA directed the State to significantly decrease the amount of GHG emissions by establishing a “2050 limit,” a level of greenhouse gas emissions equal to 80 percent less than the 2006 level of Statewide greenhouse gas emissions, by January 1, 2050, as well as establish a “2020 limit.”  At the time it was enacted, the GWRA had broad bipartisan support, receiving legislative approval by a vote of 72-8 in the General Assembly and 36-1 in the Senate.

     New Jersey became one of 10 states participating in RGGI, which established an emissions auction and trading mechanism to reduce the level of GHG emissions on a regional basis and was agreed to by the signatory states in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed December 20, 2005.  Prior to the enactment of the RGGI implementing law, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) made progress toward participating in and implementing the regional initiative, to which this State’s commitment later became endorsed by the Legislature.

     On May 26, 2011, Governor Christie claimed that RGGI is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be so in the future, and announced that New Jersey will withdraw from the regional initiative by the end of this year.  New Jersey’s participation in the regional initiative is a key component to the GWRA, and continued participation in the regional initiative is in the best interest of the State in order to meet the emissions targets established under law.  Withdrawal from RGGI would disregard the spirit and intent of the GWRA, the RGGI implementing law, and the MOU signed by the signatory states, and seriously jeopardize the ability of the State to reduce GHG emissions.