New Jersey’s new governor says his state will rejoin climate change pact

Governor Phil Murphy wants New Jersey to get back in RGGI program. (Governor’s office photo)

Governor Phil Murphy wants New Jersey to get back in RGGI program. (Governor’s office photo)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed an executive order directing the state to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Former Gov. Chris Christie pulled New Jersey out of the multi-state program in 2011. Murphy said that was a retreat from a collaborative effort to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. He said getting back in will restore New Jersey’s place as a leader in the green economy.

“Rejoining RGGI is about much more than cutting emissions and strengthening the our defense against climate change,” Murphy said. “It’s about investing in our future.”

Murphy said the state has forgone $279 million in revenue that could have resulted from participation in RGGI. Money, he says, that could have been used to invest in solar and wind energy and improve air quality.

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Senate Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith said re-entering the program would have other benefits.

“The states that went into RGGI also have a decrease in morbidity and mortality,” Smith said. Less people die of, and have aggravated symptoms due to, air pollution, because there’s less of the fossil fuel products in the air.”

Smith is urging that legislation be enacted to prevent future governors from unilaterally withdrawing the state from the program.

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