New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is set on his state not rejoining a regional cap-and-trade program that New Jersey withdrew from in 2011, despite the dangers his coastal state faces from climate change.
As the New York Times reports, Christie told reporters recently that he thought the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that New Jersey formerly participated in was “a completely useless plan” and that he “would not think of rejoining it.” Christie’s statements come after New Jersey Superior Court ruled that New Jersey’s withdrawal from RGGI didn’t follow protocol because Christie’s administration failed to hold public hearings about the withdrawal. That ruling prompted New Jersey officials to hold a public hearing in August. As the New York Times notes, Christie’s refusal to rejoin the program also contradicts the opinions of the New Jersey state legislature, which has voted to rejoin RGGI before but was vetoed by Christie.
New Jersey Senator Bob Smith and Senate President Stephen Sweeney introduced a resolution in June that aimed to get New Jersey back into RGGI. The state’s Senate environment committee approved the resolution earlier this week. If passed, the resolution wouldn’t be subject to approval or veto by Christie.
“Other states have done very, very well by participating in RGGI,” Sen. Smith told ThinkProgress in June. “Their economies are up, their residents are getting better rates. In New York, from 2009–2011, 16,000 new jobs related to RGGI were created.” New Jersey, he continued, “has one of the lowest-recovering economies in the country.”
New Jersey was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, a storm that was likely made stronger and more destructive by climate change. If Sandy had hit New Jersey and New York in the year 2100, after the earth’s temperature had warmed considerably, Sandy could have caused much more damage, according to a study published this week.
But another report released this week by reinsurance company Swiss Re warned that New Jersey and other Mid-Atlantic states could experience stronger storms than Sandy in the future. The report looked at a hurricane that “decimated” the region in 1821, and found that if that same hurricane were to happen today, it would “cause 50 percent more damage than Sandy and potentially cause more than $100 billion in property losses stemming from storm surge and wind damage.” That increase in damage is due in part to the fact that the region is more developed than it was and houses far more people than it did in 1821.
New Jersey faces other climate threats too. One study found that projections for sea level rise along New Jersey’s shores are up to 15 inches higher than the global average sea level rise predictions. Despite these threats, however, New Jersey doesn’t have a statewide climate change plan; it’s the only state on the eastern seaboard, according to the Georgetown Climate Center, to not already have one in place or be in the process of developing one.