It’s been more than eight months since Gov. Chris Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, but that doesn’t mean lawmakers are letting the issue die.
The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee is scheduled to consider a bill today that focuses on the intent of earlier laws, making the case that state law requires New Jersey to participate in a cap-and-trade program.
RGGI is a multistate compact requiring the state to cap its emissions. In taking the state out of the compact, Christie said it was ineffective at achieving its environmental goals and harmful to the state’s economy.
The decision was supported by the state’s business community, which is averse to revisiting the issue.
Michael Egenton, senior vice president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said it doesn’t make sense for New Jersey to participate in RGGI when Pennsylvania — a major contributor toward air pollution in the state — is not a member.
“We don’t see any environmental or economic benefit to the business community’s continued involvement” in RGGI, he said.
But bill sponsor Assemblyman Upendra J. Chivukula (D-Somerset) said even if the state isn’t in RGGI, previous state laws require the state to impose a cap-and-trade system.
“That’s fine, if that’s what he wants to do,” Chivukula said of Christie. “But you still have to follow the law.”
Chivukula said that earlier administrations had said the law didn’t need to specify that the state was part of RGGI. “We could have made the law much tighter,” he said.
The hearing on the bill is scheduled for 2 p.m.