Trenton — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has taken a wrecking ball to the state’s touted Global Warming Response Act, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In recent weeks, the Christie administration has blocked required reporting from greenhouse gas sources, diverted $300 million in Clean Energy Funds dedicated to energy efficiency and proposed to zero out the state’s Office of Climate Change and Energy.
“New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act is now a dead letter,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe, referring to 2007 legislation regarded as the crowning environmental achievement of the Corzine administration. “Whatever progress on climate change we can expect will have to come from Washington, because Trenton has gone AWOL.”
Apparently by mutual agreement of the ongoing Corzine and incoming Christie administration, a proposed rule to require monitoring and reporting of emissions of greenhouse gases was allowed to quietly die on January 20, 2010 – one year after it was first proposed. This emission monitoring regime is a key mandate of the state’s Global Warming Response Act. Without monitoring and reporting, New Jersey cannot track emissions or develop a regulatory program to meet the reduction milestones set forth in the Act.
On October 30, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted its first federal greenhouse gas monitoring requirements. Compared to EPA rules, however, the New Jersey law (and its now abandoned monitoring plan) is broader, covering more gases, more emissions sources and with lower thresholds. Ironically, in its public comments this fall, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) urged the EPA to integrate more stringent state rules into its proposal.
Sweeping executive orders imposing a regulatory moratorium, cost-benefit analysis requirements, and a policy of rolling back to minimum federal standards in the first weeks of the Christie administration make it unlikely that any new plan for greenhouse gas monitoring will ever emerge again from DEP. Several other major environmental and public health policies, such as the recently shelved drinking water standard for perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel, are apparently also destined for the scrap heap.
This Christie anti-regulatory stance is compounded by diversions of $300 million in Clean Energy Funds dedicated to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. In addition, Governor Christie’s proposed budget for FY 2011, beginning this July, will eliminate funding for the Office of Climate Change and Energy--the office responsible for implementing the Global Warming Response Act--even diverting revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) emission credit auctions to the General Fund.
“The current governor has decided that investment in a clean energy future for New Jersey is a luxury that we can no longer afford,” added Wolfe. “In terms of public health and welfare, New Jersey will soon start to resemble states like Mississippi that can only provide minimal state services.”
New Jersey PEER is a state chapter of a national alliance of state and federal agency resource professionals working to ensure environmental ethics and government accountability