The RGGI NJ debate ended abruptly today, when Governor Chris Christie pulled New Jersey out of the ten-state cap-and-trade program.
RGGI NJ announcement
Christopher Baxter of the Statehouse Bureau broke the story. Governor Christie pulled out under RGGI’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). According to The Hill, the legislature of New Hampshire has already voted to get out of RGGI. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pulled her state out of a similar program in the west.
RGGI NJ background
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a ten-state cap-and-trade compact. Its mission is to regulate carbon dioxide. This is the same gas found in soda pop. It comes from human and animal breathing and any form of fire. The fires of industry and transportation (especially in private cars) are the targets of RGGI. Each quarter, RGGI holds an auction of use-once “carbon permits.” Powerhouses, factories, and the like cannot operate without these permits. Many speculators buy the permits. They know that RGGI will make fewer permits available in the future.
Former Governor Jon S. Corzine set RGGI up. Since replacing him, Christie has had a hard time making up his mind about the program. New Jersey has raked in millions from the quarterly auctions. Christie has used the money to help with its budget. But RGGI has raised electric and natural-gas rates for New Jersey ratepayers. Ratepayers far outnumber environmental activists.
RGGI NJ opposition
Christie got out, he says, because RGGI doesn’t work. Bloomberg.com quoted Christie as saying that RGGI was a “gimmicky” tax program and did nothing for the environment that anyone could see.
Several New Jersey Senators and Assembly members have proposed to take New Jersey out of RGGI. But Christie could always get out. Staying in RGGI is voluntary; so says the MOU. That mans that the other nine States can’t sue New Jersey to keep it in. (No State has even talked about that.)
Furthermore, the program is unconstitutional. The US Constitution forbids any State to enter into any multi-State compact unless Congress lets it. No federal law says that any State must or even may form such a compact.
“A secretive boondoggle,” said Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose (R-25) in a piece in today’s Daily Record (Morristown). McHose faces a primary challenge from the right, specifically from Sussex County Tea Party figure RoseAnn Salanitri.
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“Better late than never,” said Salanitri of Christie. As for McHose, Salanitri said, “It’s not ‘secretive’ at all.” Salanitri has said before that RGGI is unconstitutional, and that Christie could pull New Jersey out with one word.
Baxter (above) quoted Senator Diane Allen (R-7) as saying something plainer:
RGGI drives up energy costs for consumers at a time when nobody can afford any additional taxes.
RGGI NJ support
RGGI NJ still has its supporters. All of them lamented Christie’s action. “I’m glad the governor went to global warming school but he didn’t learn his lesson,” said one. Another told The Hill that the other RGGI participants would simply cut their carbon emissions even further That expert said that the program could still work without New Jersey being in it. But she showed no proof of this.
Only Salanitri has said anything about RGGI being unconstitutional.
Featured article: Chris Christie as United States Attorney. Photo: US Department of Justice
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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