Lawmakers Taking Steps To Get NJ To Rejoin RGGI

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. July 10, 2014

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Senators Peter Barnes, Bob Smith, and Steve Sweeney i
Senators Peter Barnes, Bob Smith, and Steve Sweeney introduce measure for NJ to rejoin RGGI (photo by Phil Gregory)

New Jersey lawmakers are planning to deploy a rarely-used legislative maneuver that would force the Christie administration to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says lawmakers will use a so-called concurrent resolution to override a Department of Environmental protection rule change and force the state to rejoin the carbon-emission reduction program.

He says Governor Chris Christie's decision to quit RGGI ignored the intent of legislation lawmakers approved. 

"We're not going to be ignored and where we can flex our muscle or our authority, we're not going to abuse it, but we're not going to be abused, and we're not going to let the people of this state be abused."

Since Christie's 2011 decision to withdraw from RGGI, Sweeney says the state has lost hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

The governor has vetoed measures lawmakers approved calling for the state to rejoin the program.

Sweeney says their new tactic will pave the way for that to happen without Christie's approval.

Senator Peter Barnes says using a concurrent resolution to achieve that goal is unusual.

“The legislature feels that in this case the administration has done something that is against legislative intent and under our constitution if we pass a concurrent resolution, back-to-back resolutions, we have the power to change that practice.”

Senate Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith says reducing carbon emissions should be a top priority.

“We have 130 miles of coastline in this state. We’ve been overwhelmed by massive storms. It’s only going to get to worse. RGGI is a major tool for dealing with man made climate change.”


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