New Jersey Sued For Pulling Out Of Climate Initiative

By Amir Khan on June 8, 2012 11:39 AM EDT

Chris Christie
Environmental groups filed suit against Governor Chris Christie and the state of New Jersey on Thursday over the state's decision to pull out of a 10-state greenhouse gas reduction agreement (Photo: Creative Commons)

Environmental groups filed suit against Governor Chris Christie and the state of New Jersey on Thursday over the state's decision to pull out of a 10-state greenhouse gas reduction agreement, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

"Governor Christie unilaterally made his decision to leave RGGI - without taking any input from stakeholders or the public," Matt Elliott, a spokesman for Environment New Jersey, one of the plaintiffs, told Reuters "As we contend today, his actions are not only bad public policy, but also illegal."

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The 10-state program includes New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland, along with other New England and Mid-Atlantic states. The agreement aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent by 2018, but Christie said in November that the state would drop out of the agreement effective Jan. 1 due to its ineffectiveness.

"We need to work to put policies in place that act at reducing those contributing factors," Christie said, according to Businessweek. "Our analysis of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI reveals that this program is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future."

Environmental groups, however, contest Christie's statement that the plan is not working.

"Study after study has shown RGGI is a success on all fronts," Dale Bryk, Director, Air & Energy Program for the National Resources Defense Council, one of the plaintiffs, said in a blog post. "Across the region, it's generated 16,000 job-years worth of work in fields such as energy efficiency and renewable energy, jobs that have helped buoy our ailing economy during the three-and-a-half years RGGI's been in business."

Bryk went on to say that the program has cut carbon dioxide emissions by 23 percent since it was instituted in 2003, and said Christie backing out of the deal was illegal.

"Despite RGGI's successes in bringing clean energy and energy efficiency to the state, in creating jobs and cutting pollution, the governor directed the state's Department of Environmental Protection to withdraw from RGGI without the public discussion that proper legal procedure requires," she said.

However, Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie's office, told Reuters the state was able to pull out of the deal at any time.

"There was nothing illegal about our withdrawal from RGGI," he said. ""Participation in the RGGI consortium was via a contractual arrangement with provisions for any state to pull out with notice and without penalty."

The groups filed the suit in the Superior Court, Appellate Division in Trenton, N.J.

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