New Jersey to Rejoin Northeast Climate Program

Statement by Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Dec 17, 2018

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (December 17, 2018)—Today, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a proposal requiring the state to re-enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multistate, market-based “cap and trade” program that has helped dramatically reduce carbon emissions from the power sector in the Northeast. Under DEP’s proposal, emissions would be capped at 18 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, declining 3 percent annually until the 2030 cap of 12.6 million tons per year. Power plants would be required to purchase credits allowing them to emit carbon dioxide.

This announcement follows an executive order that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued in January directing DEP to initiate re-entry to the program, after former Gov. Chris Christie withdrew from the pact in 2014. Nine states, from Maine to Maryland, participate in RGGI.

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Kimmell, the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, was also former board chair of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“With today’s move, New Jersey is an important step closer to rejoining RGGI. RGGI is an excellent example of how states working together can cut power sector emissions, clean the air, boost energy efficiency and renewables, and lower electric bills. 

“As it has been in neighboring states, RGGI can be a key component of a suite of policies for addressing carbon emissions. New Jersey should continue to adopt additional, complementary policies that tackle emissions beyond the power sector.

“The state should also engage with community stakeholders through the re-entry process. A crucial component of participation in RGGI will be ensuring the proceeds go to projects that support New Jersey’s communities disproportionately burdened by power plant pollution.

"While the Trump administration rolls back national climate policies, New Jersey and other forward-thinking states are taking matters into their own hands to move the nation down the carbon reduction path. The just-released U.S. National Climate Assessment, and other recent landmark climate reports, underscores the urgency of this climate action. And a recently released analysis by UCS shows that about 70 percent of New Jersey’s homes that are currently at risk of chronic flooding could be spared by 2100—if global emissions are curbed to keep the planet below 2 degrees Celsius.   

“In rejoining RGGI, New Jersey is taking a smart step toward a lower carbon future.”