It may take more than year for New Jersey to rejoin RGGI climate pact

(Shutterstock photo)

(Shutterstock photo)

Gov. Phil Murphy wants New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The cooperative effort among Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont is aimed at capping and reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector.

The other states in RGGI are ready to welcome New Jersey back, but it’ll take a while to negotiate the specifics of the agreement, Catherine McCabe, acting chief of the Department of Environmental Protection, told lawmakers Wednesday.

“I would hope that we could be finished with this process, frankly, within a few months. And it will take about one year for the rule-making process, with the all stakeholder outreach that we have to do,” she said. “And we cannot begin that process until we complete the negotiations with the other states.”

“We know what the program does. We know what the changes are” she said. “The first thing they should be doing is putting out a rule to repeal the rule that took us out of RGGI — and then move forward with how we’re going to spend the money and deal with it. It should only take a few months.”

There should be a rules process that allows public comment but also ensures that the state rejoins the program by early next year, said Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley.

“Over the last three years, we’ve seen increased economic growth, and we’ve seen a reduction in global warming pollution in RGGI states,” he said. “So New Jersey needs to rejoin RGGI as quickly as possible.”

Former Gov. Chris Christie pulled New Jersey out of RGGI in 2012.

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