RGGI program loses New Jersey

New Jersey will withdraw from a 10-state regional greenhouse gas reduction program by the end of 2011, according to the Associated Press.

The program, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, puts a price on emissions by requiring fossil fuel-burning power plants in the 10-state region to buy credits to cover the carbon they emit. The money from the sale of credits pays for renewable energy initiatives. Gov. Chris Christie said it has not worked to combat global warming.

"This program is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future," Christie was quoted as saying. "The whole system is not working as it was intended to work. It is a failure."

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson reportedly is urging Christie to reconsider, saying the program helps reduce air pollution, promotes clean energy and creates jobs.

Christie is reported to be the latest leader to announce that his state would exit the pact. In Delaware, the Legislature recently considered a measure to withdraw from RGGI, but members refused to move the bill out of committee. Legislation is pending in New Hampshire that would make it easier for the state to leave the pact if another large New England state withdraws.

Other states in RGGI are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

"RGGI does nothing more than tax electricity, tax our citizens, tax our businesses with no discernible or measurable impact upon our environment," Christie was quoted as saying. He said other big Northeastern states such as Pennsylvania are not members.

Christie said he will increase New Jersey’s offshore wind production and make solar more affordable.

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