US

New Jersey could be next state to pull out of regional cap-and-trade system

New Jersey could become the next state to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced “Reggie”), a system in the northeast that environmentalists until recently pointed to as a cap-and-trade success story. Earlier this month, the New Hampshire state house voted to repeal its membership, and now Gov. Chris Christie is hinting at doing the same thing.

At a town hall meeting in Nutley last week, Christie said he was re-evaluating his state’s membership in RGGI – a commitment that can be attributed to Christie’s predecessor, Democrat Jon Corzine. “[…] Within the next two months, I’ll give you a definitive answer on whether we are going to continue it,” said Christie.

“Is there enough of a benefit to the state to keep it going, or is it too much of a detriment on business? And the thing I’m most concerned about is that it doesn’t seem to be working in the entire region,” said Christie. “The value of these credits is getting less and less as we continue to go further and further out, and so the value of the program is becoming less and less.”

Christie said he is particularly concerned about competing with Pennsylvania, which does not participate in RGGI, and that he is developing a new energy plan for New Jersey.

While Christie’s announcement is drawing fire from environmental groups, conservative organizations such as Americans for Prosperity (AFP) welcome the state-by-state dismantling of RGGI. Christie had criticized for failing to act sooner to end New Jersey’s participation in RGGI, with conservatives labeling it a blemish in the governor’s conservative credentials.

In mid-February, in fact, AFP launched a media blitz of radio and television ads campaigning against New Jersey’s membership in RGGI.

In the past, Christie has not taken a hard line on New Jersey’s participation in RGGI. Last year the governor floated a plan to use program funds to balance the state’s $29.3 billion budget.