Governor Christie has placed polluting fossil fuels above clean energy in the revised New Jersey Energy Master Plan (EMP). Two weeks after pulling out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Governor released an EMP that guts renewable and clean energy targets in favor of expanding fossil fuel and nuclear power. New Jersey was on track to meet the aggressive clean energy goals outlined in the 2008 EMP and these cuts will cost the state green jobs and economic stability, critical pollution reductions, and energy independence.
The EMP, which was one of the most visionary in the country, is now being used to further the Governor’s national profile. He is taking the side of the Tea Party and the Koch Brothers over New Jersey’s economy and environment.
Christie is slashing our clean energy target from 30% of our energy generated by renewable sources by 2020, as outlined in the previous EMP, to 22.5% by 2021, a target required by BPU regulations. New Jersey is currently on track to meet the 30% goal and should be striving to go beyond it. New Jersey is second in the nation in solar installations with 300 MW added in new generation each year. There are currently proposals for 2500 MW of offshore wind with a goal of 3,000 MW by 2020. A recent study by American Security Project found New Jersey could easily exceed the 30% goal. The only thing stopping us is Governor Christie undermining our targets and changing the programs.
The EMP calls for the expansion of natural gas, continuing our dependence on polluting fossil fuels. The Governor signed legislation calling for more natural gas plants earlier this year. The law will subsidize the construction of four new natural gas generation plants. This is a handout to corporate polluters and a $2 billion energy tax on the residents of New Jersey. The EMP also promotes incinerators to burn waste, another polluting form of energy.
The Governor is calling for the end of our successful clean energy programs. One program he is eliminating is rebates to average New Jerseyans and businesses for solar panels and energy efficient products such as furnaces, hot water heaters, and appliances. This program will be transformed into a revolving loan program for businesses only. Residents will continue to pay into the loan fund but instead of rebates going to consumers the money will be going to subsidize big oil and gas companies, most of them out of state.
Despite the ongoing tragedy in Japan, the revised EMP calls for more nuclear energy in the state, including an expansion of PSEG’s Salem plant. Nuclear technology is unsafe and undermines investment in clean, safe energy sources and the creation of green jobs. The cost of constructing new nuclear is overwhelming and these costs will be forced onto the ratepayers. Christie claims renewables are too expensive but is promoting nuclear energy which is much more expensive. One new plant can cost more than $15 billion.
The plan promotes more transmission lines that will bring in dirty coal power from the Midwest. The plan will allow gas pipelines to expand to transport gas from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania, helping promote the use of hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania which threatens the Delaware River Basin and the drinking water for 15 million people, 3 millions in New Jersey. Gas pipeline expansion projects are under way in the Highlands region and more are being proposed in densely populated and environmentally sensitive areas.
The Governor’s EMP will cost New Jersey jobs. There are over 2,000 businesses in the clean energy sector that employ over 25,000 people in New Jersey. The EMP states 80 long-term jobs will be created through the construction of the new fossil fuel plant called for by the plan versus 1,556 that will be created by solar and the 1,850 by energy efficiency programs. These job growth numbers would be much higher if New Jersey met its 30% renewable energy goal. By cutting the renewable targets and promoting fossil fuels, Christie is sending clean energy jobs and investments out of New Jersey and into environmentally-friendly states that offer more incentives to set up shop such as Maryland and Massachusetts. The renewable energy industry will continue to grow in America and by reducing our renewable energy goals Christie is sacrificing in-state jobs and investment dollars to promote his national political profile.
New Jersey had some of the most robust goals for clean energy in country. The revised EMP not only undermines these goals but also clean energy programs, and will not only hurt the environment but the economy and jobs as well. New Jersey went from being a national leader on solar and wind and this EMP jeopardizes that leadership. We are meeting or exceeding our clean energy goals and Christie is jeopardizing our state’s clean energy future.