That’s the conclusion one could reach after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced the Garden State is withdrawing from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI. If he’s right, he may be on to something because he asserted there are better ways to fight global warming, which he says is real and caused by humans.
RGGI was designed to tax carbon emissions over certain limits in certain Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states (see map). Power plants and other heavy carbon emitters that exceeded their caps have need to purchase emission credits by the ton to bring their facilities into compliance. But the market has not developed as planned. It has drawn growing opposition since the bid to pass a national cap and trade program shows no signs of life in Congress.
While Christie’s acknowledging global warming but pulling out of RGGI might sound like political double-talk, it means he now has to prove there IS a better way to reduce carbon emissions. A slate of new programs he announced for energy efficiency, offshore wind and solar energy, as well as a moratorium on new coal plant permit, might just be the ticket.
No doubt Christie is pinning his hopes on relatively low-priced and low-emitting natural gas for new power generation can make this plan work. A rash of new natural gas discoveries, many economists project, should keep wellhead prices close to $4 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) perhaps for many years to come. Natural gas cost more than $10 per mcf throughout much of 2005.
Another plank of his plan — next generation nuclear plants — might help IF an operator can afford one and succeed in securing all the necessary permits.
“We have an obligation to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and we’re going to do it in the concrete ways that I’ve laid out here today,” he said. “We’re not going to do it by participating in gimmicky programs that haven’t worked. And, you know, in the end, our view is it’s better to do things the right way than to do things the politically correct way.”
Christie claims New Jersey is on a path to meet its 2020 goals for reducing greenhouse gases without participating in the cap-and-trade program.
The U.S. EPA, environmental activists and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley rebuked Christie’s decision contending RGGI is working and generating revenues for clean energy programs. “I reject his assertion that the initiative is ineffective in reducing greenhouse gases,” O’Malley said in a statement.
Delaware and New Hampshire reportedly are weighing whether to withdraw from RGGI.