Christie Vetoes Bill to Return New Jersey to RGGI

Published September 7, 2012

For the second time in a year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation that would return the Garden State to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade scheme encompassing several states and provinces in the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada.

Cites Unnecessary Tax

Explaining his veto, Christie said RGGI “did nothing more than impose a tax on electricity to be borne by New Jersey’s overburdened taxpayers and ratepayers, who already pay some of the highest energy costs in the country.”

Legislature Fails AgainChristie, a Republican, withdrew New Jersey from RGGI in 2011, a move that angered environmental activists and their allies in the state legislature.

The legislature passed a bill in the summer of 2011 that would put New Jersey back in RGGI, but Christie vetoed the measure. Lacking the votes to override the veto, Democratic legislators tried again this year with nearly identical legislation that ultimately suffered the same fate.

RGGI Harms Economy

Environmental activists were quick to condemn Christie’s veto. Consumer watchdogs, however, praised the governor for standing up against unnecessarily high electricity costs.

“Gov. Christie made the right call when he pulled New Jersey out of the RGGI cap-and-trade scheme,” said Mike Proto, communications director for Americans for Prosperity, New Jersey. 

“Despite the phony claims emanating from a fringe environmentalist movement, RGGI has proven to be nothing but a wasteful, job-destroying tax which encourages Solyndra-style cronyism and corporate welfare under the guise of addressing air pollution,” Proto explained.

“With a 9.8 percent unemployment rate and some of the highest utility bills in the nation, the last thing struggling New Jersey businesses and consumers need is to be saddled with a tax on their electricity bills that will kill jobs and make our state less competitive,” Proto added. 

Created in 2005, RGGI held its first auction of carbon dioxide emission credits in September 2008.

Although the auction’s proceeds were supposed to fund various energy and environment programs, many states have used the money to cover shortfalls in their general budgets. 

Nine states currently participate in RGGI: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Pennsylvania and the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick act as observers. 

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.