Home > Uncategorized > After Gov. Murphy Repeatedly Touted The Importance Of NJ Rejoining RGGI, DEP Has Spent Less Than 1% Of Over $250 Million Collected

After Gov. Murphy Repeatedly Touted The Importance Of NJ Rejoining RGGI, DEP Has Spent Less Than 1% Of Over $250 Million Collected

DEP Weak CO2 Emissions Proposal, No Adaptation Rules, And Not Even Spending Money

Gov. Environmental Award to NJ Climate Alliance (December 10, 2018)

Gov. Environmental Award to NJ Climate Alliance (December 10, 2018)

Fulfilling a campaign promise, less than 2 weeks after his election, NJ Gov. Murphy issued Executive Order #7, which authorized NJ to rejoin the northeastern states Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). He got high praise from environmental groups and great press coverage:

Gov. Phil Murphy yesterday signed an executive order to have the state rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a step signaling the state is shifting to a much more aggressive stance on fighting climate change.

In an event in Atlantic Highlands, the governor fulfilled one of his primary environmental pledges by reentering the multistate program to reduce pollution from power plants by participating in the carbon budget-trading program.

Gov. Murphy bragged about that multiple times. For example, when DEP adopted regulations implementing Executive Order #7, the Gov. again highlighted the significance of NJ rejoining (RGGI). Here’s a June 17, 2019 press release:

“Climate change and sea-level rise affect us all, and as a coastal state, New Jersey is especially vulnerable to the impacts of global warming,” said Governor Murphy.The reckless decision to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2012 cost the state millions of dollars in revenue that could have been used to put toward initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health of our residents. New Jersey has reemerged as a national leader in fighting climate change and reentering the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will propel us on a path to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

The Gov. emphasized and prioritized the allocation of RGGI revenues to “disproportionately impacted” communities: (EO#7):

Such guidelines shall include, as a primary consideration of the State agencies charged with allocating said funds, factors that will ensure that funds are allocated to projects that will serve communities that are disproportionality impacted by the effects of environmental degradation and climate change, and which will alleviate the negative effects on human health and the environment resulting therefrom.

On a daily basis, there’s a drumbeat of media reports about the billions of dollars of investment that will be required to reduce energy demand, maximize energy efficiency, electrify buildings and transportation, upgrade the power grid, phase out fossil, and transition to 100% renewable energy to meet deep greenhouse gas reduction climate goals.

We regularly read about Gov. Murphy and DEP Commissioner LaTourette’s commitment to disproportionately impacted environmental justice communities.

Yet 4 and a half years after the Gov. issued EO#7 and 3 years after rejoining RGGI, according to recent DEP testimony to the legislature on this year’s budget, DEP has spent less than 1% of over $256 million collected.

In DEP’s response to  Legislative oversight of DEP’s budget, DEP wrote: (@page 5)

Since New Jersey’s 2020 return into RGGI, the State has received $256,290,826 in auction proceeds. To date $116,750,471 has been awarded and allocated to projects and $1,380,452 has been spent.

Did you get that?

DEP has collected over $256 million dollars and spent just $1,380,452 – that’s 0.5%!

Is DEP practicing “reckless” mismanagement that cost the people millions of dollars that could have been spent to reduce GHG emissions and improve public health? Let’s repeat Gov. Murphy’s press release:

The reckless decision to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2012 cost the state millions of dollars in revenue that could have been used to put toward initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health of our residents.

Look, I’ve long been a harsh critic of RGGI, for many reasons, including: 1) lack of a real cap on emissions, 2) the fake cap is far too lax to meet emission reduction goals, 3) the emissions allowance price is far too low; 4) RGGI applies to less than 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, 5) the cost of the program has been greatly exaggerated, and 6) the program has been politicized.

But failure to even spend the RGGI money – in the face of the climate emergency and tremendous unmet investment needs – is simply outrageous.

And I’m sure PSE&G has not waited years to receive their $300 million annual nuclear subsidies.

And while DEP is not spending available RGGI money, the Gov. has diverted and spent millions of dollars of Clean Energy Funds (even with a huge budget surplus).

(all while over 1 million NJ residents can’t pay their bills and face utility shutoffs)

Once again, the facts and substance exposes the PR of the Murphy DEP.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the NJ media to report these kind of inconvenient facts, or for NJ environmental groups – sycophants and cheerleaders all – to criticize them.

[End Note: It’s probably a very good thing that DEP has not spent the RGGI money allocated to carbon sequestration, because under current DEP “Forest Action Plan” policies and RGGI funding regulations and programs, they would conduct sham “young forest” “thinning” “stewardship” logging projects and call them sequestration.

Of course, there is a massive need and unmet demand for urban forestry projects – which DEP has failed to satisfy – and of course I strongly SUPPORT expenditure of RGGI money for those urban forestry programs.]

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