Governor Phil Murphy is beginning his administration on a high note by making good on his campaign promise to direct New Jersey to reenter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI as it is often referred to. New Jersey’s entry back into the nation’s first regional market for CO2 will benefit the state, directly reducing its contributions to global climate change while generating tens of millions in annual revenue that can be invested back into programs that improve energy efficiency and further reduce emissions.
Now that the Garden State is on a pathway to rejoin RGGI, it’s time for the Governor and State legislature to start thinking about how RGGI could do even more.
RGGI has been around for nearly a decade now, and has created a solid track record of helping to curb emissions from the power sector in each of the nine (now back to 10) participating states, which have seen reductions by an average of 40 percent. RGGI has also helped consumers save money on energy bills thanks to the investments in efficient energy and renewals the proceeds from RGGI have enabled. These investments have also created new jobs and stimulated the regional economy.
But by focusing solely on large power generators, the program leaves the other sources of emissions free to pollute.
In particular, transportation is the state’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about 41 percent of emissions statewide.
It’s not just about the pollution. By not pricing emissions from transportation we are also leaving a valuable stream of revenue on the table, one that could help New Jersey locally pay for much needed upgrades to NJTransit or to bond against for the Gateway program.
This is why RPA has called for the expansion of the region’s greenhouse gas market to include all sectors of the economy, including transportation, in its Fourth Regional Plan. Much of the groundwork has already been completed by Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a consortium of states and organizations dedicated to reducing transportation emissions in the Northeast.
As New Jersey re-enters the greenhouse gas emission market, and considers investments in offshore wind, it can lead by example by working closely with neighboring governors to advance a regional market for transportation emissions.