Home > Uncategorized > Legislature to Probe Christie’s Exit from RGGI

Legislature to Probe Christie’s Exit from RGGI

[Update: 6/13/11Asbury Park Press does a good set up story on today’s hearing: Hearing set on split from 10-state effort

The Star Ledger carried a brief AP piece, which means that they will cover it too. The bullshit will be flying, so I hope the reporter fact checks claims before printing them. And someone had better challenge the Gov.’s cost claims: 24 cents per month! We will keep you posted. end] 

On Monday (June 13), the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Commitee will conduct oversight of Governor Christie’s announced plan to withdraw from the 10 northeast states’ “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiaitive” (RGGI) so called emissions cap and trade program:

The Committee will take testimony from invited guests regarding Governor Christie’s proposal to withdraw the State from participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the potential consequences to the Clean Energy Program

Full disclosure: Going back to the Whitman Administration’s  failed “Open Market Emissions Trading” (OMET) program, we have been opponents of pollution trading schemes and opposed to RGGI from the outset (see Global Warming Showdown in Trenton? and Collapse of Cap & Trade Is a Good Thing – But for All the Wrong Reasons 

But, as we noted back on March 28, 2011 (see:Christie Bowing to Koch Brothers on RGGI), while RGGI was an agreement that was negotiated and signed by Governors, that agreement was meaningless without legislative enabling authority to establish and implement it. As such, legally and politically, RGGI was created and authorized by the Legislature.

RGGI policy was set by the Legislature, legal requirements were established, and market expectations and contracts were formed by that legislation.

As such, RGGI may not be unilaterally terminated by an act of the Governor. That needs to be made front and center during this legislative oversight hearing.

If legislative Democrats fail to do that and take on the Governor on these separation of powers issues, they are not serious and doing little more than engaging in Kabuki grandstanding and cheap political stunts.

But since Christie announced his unilateral RGGI withdrawal, he’s gone even further in his assault and systematic efforts to dismantle NJ’s global warming, green energy, and environmental programs.

This week, Christie released his draft Energy Master Plan revisions, which would gut NJ’s renewable energy goals while promoting new natural gas and nuclear power plants.

(see: CHRISTIE ABRUPT ABOUT-FACE ON GREEN POWER — Nuclear and Natural Gas Touted; Conservation Incentives to be Zeroed Out

So, we expect that legislative Democrats also will be scheduling oversight hearings on the Christie Energy Master Plan changes that would destroy NJ’s Clean Energy Programs.

The Christie EMP changes would have far more devastating impacts on NJ’s Clean Energy programs than RGGI withdrawal, for which they’ve scheduled oversight hearings.

Legislative hearings could parallel the formal public hearings scheduled for this summer.

And now that Christie himself has revealed the true radical anti-environmental nature of his policies, a consensus opposition from the NJ environmental community finally has emerged and begun to be organized. As I’ve previously noted, an effective model to oppose Christie is the diverse coalition that has aggressively opposed the (No) Public Accces rule.

The NJ Environmental Federation’s “transactional” political endorsement of Christie and Dave Pringle’s shilling press cover have worn thin and been exposed.

As a result, the press is not longer writing mixed message or equivocal “some enviros say” stories that portray the Governor in a favorable light and marginalize critics, like myself.

So,  as Democrats locate their spines, they need to begin legislative oversight hearings on a broad set of recent Christie DEP regulatory initiatives.

The Legislature can participate during the public comment period on these rules, and has Constitutional power to veto any DEP rule found “inconsistent with legislative intent”.

In fact, last year, the legislature held oversight hearings on a proposed DEP clean air rule, seeking to strike that rule down at the request of oil industry lobbyists (see: Big Oil Mounts Shameful Attack on Clean Air and Public Health).

Legislative oversight initially should focus on the following recent regulatory activities by DEP, all of which are moving in a radically wrong direction:

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