TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey’s new Democratic governor ordered the state to rejoin a regional environmental pact on Monday, reversing a decision by former Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order to put New Jersey back in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It mandates that the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities begin negotiations with the initiative’s nine current member states to determine how the New Jersey should re-enter.
The RGGI is a cap-and-trade program of nine New England and mid-Atlantic states whose aim is to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. The money it raises is distributed to participating states to finance clean energy programs.
Christie had announced in 2011 that the state would leave the initiative, saying the pact didn’t effectively reduce greenhouse emissions and amounted to a tax on utility customers.
Murphy said Christie’s decision led New Jersey to fall behind on the critical goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impacts of global climate change. By withdrawing from RGGI, Murphy said New Jersey has foregone an estimated $279 million in revenue that could have been realized by participating in the pact’s carbon budget trading program.
“New Jersey has not been a partner to our neighbor states in advancing the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions since pulling out of RGGI,” Murphy said. “Pulling out of RGGI slowed down progress on lowering emissions and has cost New Jerseyans millions of dollars that could have been used to increase energy efficiency and improve air quality in our communities. With this executive order, New Jersey takes the first step toward restoring our place as a leader in the green economy.”