Home > Uncategorized > Senate Environment Committee Chairman Smith Introduces Legislation To Put Regulatory Teeth In The Global Warming Response Act

Senate Environment Committee Chairman Smith Introduces Legislation To Put Regulatory Teeth In The Global Warming Response Act

Bill Would Amend Global Warming Response Act And NJ Air Pollution Control Act

Authorizes DEP To Regulate Air Pollution Sources To Meet Goals Of Act

Bill Effectively Kills Murphy DEP Proposed CO2 Rule

After 15 years of avoidance, NJ State lawmakers finally have acknowledged that the greenhouse gas emission reduction goals of the landmark 2007 Global Warming Response Act (GWRA) were aspirational and the law lacked regulatory teeth to implement the goals.

For 15 years I’ve made that argument and urged lawmakers to put teeth in the law. I summarized that torturous legislative and regulatory history in these posts, see:

Senate Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith recently (on February 14, 2022) introduced legislation that would authorize DEP to regulate certain air pollution sources in order to meet the goals of the act (read the bill, S1602 (Smith/Greenstein))

Senator Smith reached out to me this week to give me a heads up that he introduced the bill. While he provided no explanation of his intent or legislative strategy or schedule for hearings on the bill, he graciously went out of his way to remind me that I had most recently asked him to draft the legislation back in December and that I pledged to support the bill.

[Note: I had no role in drafting the bill and did not review it prior to introduction.]

Since DEP proposed a CO2 emissions rule, I’ve sent Senator Smith and DEP Commissioner LaTourette a series of emails explaining the lack of legislative authority in the GWRA for DEP to regulate emissions and thus illustrate why the DEP proposal was fatally flawed legally and must be withdrawn.

Given that lack of authority, I’ve urged DEP to withdraw the rule proposal and for Senator Smith to introduce and pass legislation authorizing DEP to regulate emissions to meet the goals of the Act, similar to New York State’s climate law.

The recent decision by the US Supreme Court to review US EPA’s authority to regulate GHG emissions under the federal Clean Air Act highlighted exactly the arguments I have been making.

I urgently warned Senator Smith and DEP Commissioner LaTourette that should the US Supreme Court strike down EPA’s authority, that certainly would spawn parallel litigation attack on DEP’s CO2 rule proposal.

So, I’m glad that Senator Smith finally listened.

But, we are in a very dangerous legal and political situation.

The introduction of the bill effectively kills and will force withdrawal of the Murphy DEP’s proposed CO2 rule, because the existence of the bill – (passage not required) – makes it clear that DEP lacks legislative authorization to regulate GHG emissions under both the GWRA and the NJ Air Pollution Control Act.

The bill basically brings DEP back to square one in attempting to regulate GHG emissions to meet the emission reduction goals of the GWRA.

In order to for DEP to proceed on reducing GHG emissions, the bill – in some form – now must pass. Must pass.

Today, is our introductory note.

We hope it will spur media coverage and an aggressive campaign of support by climate activists and environmental groups.

In our next posts, we will discuss the merits of the bill, suggest amendments, and outline a strategy going forward.

[End Note: For those who think I’m just Old and In The Way or, paraphrasing Twain, who may have prematurely celebrated my demise:

This bill shows that I’m still exerting more influence than environmental groups with large staffs and multi-million budgets and out-smarting corporate lobbyists who make big money (from 2,500 miles away in the desert with an intermittent and extremely slow internet connection!).

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