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Stop Flogging RGGI To Score Political Points

Symbolic gesture is deeply flawed and not a model for next Administration

The bill is silent on ALL these key issues and must NOT become the model for the next administration – so why are environmentalists supporting such a FLAWED symbolic empty gesture?

NJ Spotlight reports that the Senate Environment Committee heard a bill yesterday designed to restore the RGGI program, see:

I wish the NJ Democrats would stop flogging RGGI to score political points. I’m tired of the pure politics and “sending a message” with empty symbolic gestures. And flogging RGGI is not only a symbolic gesture, it diverts attention from much needed reforms.

President Trump and his EPA Administrator Pruitt do not care about RGGI or the NJ Legislature.

Furthermore, the Obama Clean Power Plan is on hold and before the US Supreme Court, so EPA Administrator Pruitt doesn’t even have to repeal it, just have the AG Sessions Justice Department not continue to litigate it, petition the Court to dismiss the case, or simply ignore enforcing it on the State’s

(BTW, few people seem to understand that the Obama EPA – following the Bill Clinton Administration’s “State Partnership” policy that effectively gutted EPA oversight of State programs to appease Newt Gingrich’s “Contract On America” “federalists” – delegated implementation of the Clean Power Plan program to the State’s via Clean Air Act SIP amendments. Sates can drag their feet, or EPA could simply look the other way in oversight of State CPP SIP amendments. Or EPA could relax compliance dates and technical requirements, effectively gutting the program in ways that environmental groups would be virtually powerless to stop.)

Worse, the NJ Senate bill – if passed in its current form and signed by the next Gov. – ignores serious flaws in the current RGGI law and would make the problems WORSE. It is NOT a model for the next administration (unless you’re PSEG or a refinery or a natural gas power plant, all of whom get huge subsidies and breaks under RGGI). Even the sponsors of the bill realize that Gov. Christie will veto it, as he has done twice before.

That’s right – the bill would allow a significant INCREASE in current emissions of greenhouse gases. Here’s why:

1. The bill is tied to the negotiated 2005 RGGI states MOA – not only has that MOA been renegotiated for, among other reasons, to ratchet down on the initial cap, but that means the NJ emissions cap would remain FAR ABOVE CURRENT NJ EMISSIONS.

If the legislature is serious, they must REDUCE THE CAP!

2. PSEG has shut down 2 fossil plants and announced the shutdown of 2 more since the 2005 MOA and NJ cap allocation.

The bill would essential grandfather old PSEG emissions, allowing PSEG to profit from the sale of non-existent emissions! That is the kind of abuse of market trading schemes that we were able to use to kill the “Open Market Emissions Trading” (OMET) program. If you doubt any of these conclusions, please read the RGGI bill:

3. The existing RGGI law has a $7 per ton “reset”. If RGGI auction allowances exceed $7 per ton, all bets are off and the program must be reviewed by the Legislature. That $7 per ton reset is FAR TOO LOW – the social costs of carbon is over $100 per ton according to EPA. Other research suggests an even higher SCC.

If the Legislature and next administration are serious, that $7 per ton “cost containment” provision must be repealed and the 2005 cap reduced and the MOA renegotiated.

4. The current RGGI law fails to address methane emissions and lifecycle emissions. That is a critical omission, because NJ has become so heavily reliant on natural gas and fracking has boomed. When lifecycle methane emissions are considered, recent research suggests that fracked gas is as bad or worse than coal from a global warming perspective.

AGAIN, if the legislature and next administration are serious, methane and lifecycle emissions must be included in NJ’s emissions baseline and part of the enforceable regulatory emissions reductions requirements.

5. The Christie DEP abandoned a greenhouse gas emissions inventory rule – so we no longer have an accurate emissions baseline – that problem needs to be remedied by the Legislature.

6. The RGGI MOA and program are too narrow in scope and are limited to the power sector.

If emissions trading is to replace command and control regulation, it MUST BE BROADENED to address all sectors.

7. The RGGI law fails to address emissions from power consumed in state but generated in another state. Those emissions must be included.

8. The RGGI law can be interpreted to serve as the market based substitute for DEP regulation of GHG emissions, and thereby effectively replace regulation.

The Legislature needs to explicitly affirm DEP’s authority to regulate emissions from all sectors and tie those regulations to attainment of specific numeric emissions reductions goals and timetables. They can look to and strengthen the Global Warming Response Act for an example of goals and timetables.

The bill is silent on ALL these key issues and must NOT become the model for the next administration – so why are environmentalists supporting such a FLAWED symbolic empty gesture?

[End Note: The hypocrisy here is stunning.

The sponsor of the bill, Senate President Sweeney, was the sponsor of several amendments that gutted the original RGGI bill.

The Sweeney amendments to the original RGGI bill were SO BAD, that environmentalists not only withdrew their support for the bill, but actively OPPOSED its passage.

We do not forget this kind of bullshit –  wonks can read the Statement on the Senate Committee substitute amendments and read the substitute bill S2976[SCS] to document that claim.

But apparently others do. ~ end]

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