by Staff Writers
Trenton, N.J. (UPI) May 27, 2011
New Jersey is dropping out of the United States' regional cap-and-trade program, Gov. Chris Christie said.
Started in 2008, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative aims to reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 10 percent by 2018 in 10 northeastern states.
Under the program, power plants buy emission allowances auctioned off by states for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit. Plants with larger emissions are required to buy more allowances than cleaner plants.
The money from the sale of the cap-and-trade credits is expected to be used for renewable energy initiatives.
Other states in the pact are: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
In a news conference announcing the withdrawal, Christie cited a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection report that says the state's emissions had dropped below the state limit set for 2020, which he attributed to the state relying more on natural gas and less on coal for its energy needs.
A RFFI report from February said that the states had invested 52 percent of a total $789.2 million raised in the auctions into energy efficiency, 11 percent into renewable energy, 14 percent in energy bill payment assistance and another 1 percent for other greenhouse gas reduction programs.
But the price of allowances has dropped from $3.07 at the first auction in 2008 to $1.89 at the last auction in March. Christie said the allowances "were never expensive enough to change behavior as they were intended to and ultimately fuel different choices."
New Jersey's investments included more than $29 million for 12 large-scale commercial and industrial renewable-energy and energy-efficiency projects, expected to generate enough electricity annually to power more than 19,600 typical households in the state each year.
New Jersey households pay $3.24 on average toward RGGI on their utility bills, environmental group Environment New Jersey says.
While acknowledging that climate change "is real and it's impacting our state," Christie said the program isn't effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future. "The whole system is not working as it was intended to work. It is a failure."
In a joint statement, the remaining nine states stressed their commitment to the initiative.
"With each state exercising its independent authority to achieve low-cost greenhouse gas emissions reductions, the RGGI market-based program has widespread support across the region and will continue," it said.
The next auction is scheduled for June 8.
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Report: California can reach emission goal
Berkeley, Calif. (UPI) May 24, 2011
California can reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 largely through existing technologies, a report says. The reduction is possible even as California's population is expected to surge from 37 million to 55 million and the demand for energy is expected to double in the next 40 years, a report released Tuesday by the California Counc ... read more
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