WEST ORANGE, NJ - Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex/Morris), Assembly Environment Vice-Chairman, announced on March 31 that he would continue advocacating for the State of New Jersey's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). His announcement follows the recent verdict by the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court noting that Governor Chris Christie broke the law when he pulled New Jersey from under the regulations governing RGGI and disregarded the need for public input and a legislative response.
Environment New Jersey and the National Resources Defense Council prevailed in a court challenge that "the Christie administration unilaterally and illegally removed New Jersey from the regulations governing RGGI, a regional program to reduce carbon pollutions limits".
The ruling requires that the administration must seek public comment on the decision to withdraw the state from RGGI regulations and that it has 60 days to start the process.
McKeon issued a statement on the verdict, saying:
"We commend the recent verdict of the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court that Gov. Christie broke the law when he pulled New Jersey from under the regulations governing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and disregarded the need for public input and a legislative response. The Christie administration violated the state's Administrative Procedure Act when it halted the need for power plants to comply with pollution limits by simply posting an announcement on the New Jersey Department of Environment Protection (NJDEP) website;
"The court ruling reinforces that Gov. Christie's decision to withdraw New Jersey from RGGI in 2011 was a giant step back in our march towards a clean energy economy and set us back in our fight against climate change. In the first three years since its enactment and while New Jersey was a member, RGGI generated thousands of clean jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity for the region, delivered significant energy savings to ratepayers and funded major renewable energy projects throughout the State. RGGI also helped catapult New Jersey to become a national leader in clean energy including in both solar and wind. We were at the apex of progress. We must stand up and fight to protect the environment and our state’s clean energy economy from the misguided decision by Gov. Christie to pull New Jersey out of RGGI. The environment must not be mortgaged for a quick-fix or to partisan politics."
McKeon was a the lead Assembly sponsor of legislation (measure A-1763/S151) recently approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, clarifying the intent of P.L. 2007, c 340 and requiring the State's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). He is also the lead Assembly sponsor of a measure that declares Gov. Christie's withdrawal of New Jersey from the RGGI to be inconsistent with legislative intent.
McKeon was a prime sponsor of the original measure (A-4559) facilitating the state's participation in the multi-state greenhouse compact, which was enacted into law in January 2008.
McKeon is currently sponsoring constitutional amendment (ACR-140), that would require New Jersey to participate in RGGI and go to the polls in November, 2014.